The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA H.R. 3523 (112th Congress), H.R. 624 (113th Congress)) is a proposed law in the United States which would allow for the sharing of Internet traffic information between the U.S. government and technology and manufacturing companies. The stated aim of the bill is to help the U.S government investigate cyber threats and ensure the security of networks against cyberattacks.
The legislation was introduced on November 30, 2011. It was passed in the House of Representatives on April 26, 2012, but was not passed by the U.S. Senate. In February 2013 the House reintroduced the bill and it passed in the United States House of Representatives on April 18, 2013, but stalled and ultimately was not voted on by the United States Senate.
CISPA has been criticized by advocates of Internet privacy and civil liberties, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union, Free Press, Fight for the Future, and Avaaz.org, as well as various conservative and libertarian groups including the Competitive Enterprise Institute, TechFreedom, FreedomWorks, Americans for Limited Government, Liberty Coalition, and the American Conservative Union. Those groups argue CISPA contains too few limits on how and when the government may monitor a private individual’s Internet browsing information. Additionally, they fear that such new powers could be used to spy on the general public rather than to pursue malicious hackers. CISPA had garnered favor from corporations and lobbying groups such as Microsoft, Facebook, AT&T, IBM, Apple Inc. and the United States Chamber of Commerce, which look on it as a simple and effective means of sharing important cyber threat information with the government.
Some critics saw CISPA as a second attempt at strengthening digital piracy laws after the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act both met huge opposition. Intellectual property theft was initially listed in the bill as a possible cause for sharing Web traffic information with the government, though it was removed in subsequent drafts.
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is a United States bill introduced by U.S. Representative Lamar S. Smith (R-TX) to expand the ability of U.S. law enforcement to combat online copyright infringement and online trafficking in counterfeit goods. Provisions include the requesting of court orders to bar advertising networks and payment facilities from conducting business with infringing websites, and search engines from linking to the websites, and court orders requiring Internet service providers to block access to the websites. The law would expand existing criminal laws to include unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content, imposing a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
Proponents of the legislation state it will protect the intellectual-property market and corresponding industry, jobs and revenue, and is necessary to bolster enforcement of copyright laws, especially against foreign-owned and operated websites. Claiming flaws in present laws that do not cover foreign-owned and operated websites, and citing examples of active promotion of rogue websites by U.S. search engines, proponents assert stronger enforcement tools are needed.
Opponents state the proposed legislation threatens free speech and innovation, and enables law enforcement to block access to entire internet domains due to infringing content posted on a single blog or webpage. They have raised concerns that SOPA would bypass the “safe harbor” protections from liability presently afforded to websites by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Library associations have expressed concerns that the legislation’s emphasis on stronger copyright enforcement would expose libraries to prosecution. Other opponents state that requiring search engines to delete domain names violates the First Amendment and could begin a worldwide arms race of unprecedented Internet censorship.