I’m hearing a lot of people make the comparison of cybersecurity legislation’s coming fate and the beat down that was taken recently by SOPA/PIPA (two pieces of legislation meant to strengthen protections for intellectual property – and mainly championed by the movie industry).
Now that Congress is considering legislation to address the perceived threat to our infrastructure posed by cybercrime, a lot of people are suggesting that the grassroots opposition to SOPA/PIPA will rise up against CISPA. (Note: when I refer to CISPA, I am speaking broadly about cybersecurity legislation, and not specifically about the House version carrying that acronym.)
If you expect online activism to save us from bad legislation in this case, you need to rethink your world view. The difference between the two is quite simple, but makes the likelihood of passage almost certain, even in the face of opposition.
Cybersecurity legislation is likely to pass regardless because all the power and authority that stems from the bill will accrue to government. SOPA/PIPA largely benefited private industry. The content creators would get a great deal more from the legislation, but it would create a hedache for ISPs, content aggregators, and others. Not even the inclusion of anticounterfeiting provisions could address the fact that this was largely MPAA’s bill. Even most of those urging passage were generally fairly tacit in their support.
CISPA is nothing like that. Most of the ISPs don’t like it. Most of the web’s big players don’t like it. The people that are really excited about it are those that want more power to watch you – the Justice Department.
If you look at the provisions in the bill that concern people the most, they are the provisions most vague. They also are the provisions that deal with your rights.
If you think that the same people who brought you the Patriot Act are going to cower in the face of opposition to usurping more of your rights, or turn to run from the challenge, you are mistaken.
Make no mistake, cybersecurity legislation will pass. It will pass in a form that makes most sensible people nervous, and it will be misused by our guardians. That’s the nature of this type of legislation, and no Internet blackout will stop it.