Congress Just Passed A Bill That Gives Companies Unprecedented Access To Your Online Activities

hackers computer

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Remember SOPA, the anti-online piracy act people freaked out over a few months ago?Now there’s a new bill the House passed today that is designed to prevent hackers from getting ahold of personal or government information stored online. It’s called the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, or CISPA. While CISPA isn’t causing as big of an uproar as SOPA did, it still has a lot of people worried.

CISPA gives private companies freedom to share your personal online information with the government as long as its under the name of national security. That’s the “sharing” part of the act’s name.

It’s easiest to think of CISPA an online version of the Patriot Act. 

So why are people worried about CISPA?

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a great breakdown of privacy concerns with the bill. But it boils down to this:

Some are afraid CISPA’s definition of “cybersecurity” is too vague and may give the government access to a bunch of personal information it doesn’t need to combat hackers and cyber threats. Companies can look at digital information that’s either stored or in transit as long as they do so for cybersecurity purposes. This information can then be shared with the government.

As Lifehacker explains, a lot of big tech companies like Facebook and Microsoft are actually in favour of CISPA. That’s because the act would put some of the burden of protecting against hackers on the federal government. CISPA gives companies protection from being sued by users.

CISPA passed the House today.

Is that good?

On one side there are those who believe cyber attacks are the next biggest form of terrorism and CISPA helps prevent that. On the other side, there are those who believe private companies and the government will use the vague definition of “cybersecurity” to obtain personal information they don’t need. 

For those who are worried, there’s a good chance President Obama will veto the bill if Congress doesn’t add more privacy protection.