The Week to Stop Cyber Spying Starts…Now

Electronic Frontier Foundation leads the charge against the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) this week with its Stop Cyber Spying week of action. Proponents of H.R. 3523 are describing the bill as facilitating  information sharing.  EFF, joined by the ACLU, Constitution Project and others, are countering by warning of violations of individual privacy rights.

This seems to be shaping up as a trade-off between privacy and information sharing, with CISPA opponents arguing the balance has been poorly struck. Philip Bump at the Daily Beast puts it this way:

You probably don’t want to be stuck on a train in a tunnel under a river because hackers have shut down your city’s infrastructure. But you also probably don’t want Facebook sending the information it has about you to the National Security Agency.

PCWorld thinks the problem is that the wording is vague or broad in places and ways that could be abused. Privacy advocates would like to fight cybercrime as well–they’re just not willing to surrender personal liberties to make it happen.

Will Oremus points out on Slate why its unlikely tech companies that lined up to fight SOPA will show up for this round.

Without the drama of Wikipedia et al blacking out their sites, how will this battle between privacy and information sharing play out?  Probably not very well for privacy.  A conversation between Evgeny Morozov, Chris Soghoian, the FBI’s Deputy General Counsel, and Jane Yakowitz (author of Tragegy of the Data Commons) took place at the Open Society Foundation earlier this month, asking Is Privacy Overhyped?  As a matter of policy points, so interesting. As a matter of raising our blood pressure about real world impacts on real people, meh.* Same response to this talk on privacy by one of my favorite writers Cory Doctorow. Probably why EFF’s is pushing the phrase “cyber spying” – let’s see if it catches on.

*not meh at all: listen around the 1:30 mark (it’s marked in time remaining) when the FBI counsel talks about “going dark” and frames the problem as “there is a widening gap between having the authority to collect [data/information] and having the technical capability to do so.”  And then she gives the “I cannot say” – twice – when pushed to say what kind of communication she’s talking about.

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