Congress to Vote on Internet Bills During Cyber Week



WASHINGTON D.C. – During the upcoming Cyber Week, Congress may vote on numerous so-called cyber security bills. Here are details on several bills that Congress may be debating soon:


Cyber Security Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA)


CISPA  would encourage private companies such as Google and Facebook to share your private information with the federal government. If it becomes law, the National Security Agenda (NSA) could be reading your emails or looking through your Internet browsing history—without a warrant. You will not be notified that a company has given your private information to the federal government.


This bill appears to violate the fourth amendment right to privacy. The language of the bill says that companies must only share “cyber security threat information.” But it does not clearly define what that means.


There is possibility that a company could—accidentally or intentionally—send your extremely personal details to federal agencies. CISPA protects companies from any lawsuits for monitoring, storing, and sharing private information with the federal government.


The new version CISPA is slightly less invasive than last year’s version but it still limits constitutional rights.


Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CFAA)


The CFAA is an anti-hacking law that was originally passed in 1984 and has been amended multiple times. Congress is set to vote on a new version of the law soon that would criminalize everyday Internet activities. The new CFAA proposal makes up new crimes, and increases penalties for violations.


The law may have had good intentions of protecting U.S. networks against malicious attacks, but the broad and vague language of the bill is problematic. Under the law, it would become illegal to create a fake social networking profile (even for your pets), give someone else your Facebook password, not tell the truth about your weight on dating website, or break the Terms and Conditions of a website.


Do you always read the Terms and Conditions before agreeing to them? Likely not—but it could cost you if the new CFAA becomes law.


Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA)


ECPA is a technology privacy law that was originally passed in 1986. Technology has changed significantly since the 1980’s and the law is drastically out of date. Under the ECPA, emails that are older than 180 days or have been opened, can be read by the federal government with just a simple subpoena. That means that the IRS can read your private messages without even needing a warrant.


According to Slate, “ECPA 2013, authored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, would ensure authorities have to obtain a search warrant to get access to emails no matter how old. It would also require the government to notify an individual whose electronic communications have been disclosed within 10 days of obtaining a search warrant.”