CISPA Passes House – Is it Time For Gamers To Panic?

By a vote of 288 to 127, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, which could have serious consequences for online privacy, both for gamers and the Internet at large. The overwhelming victory for CISPA demonstrates legislators’ frightening support of the erosion of constitutional liberties and legal protections against the abuse of copyright laws.

Though this is the second time the House has passed CISPA legislation, this latest vote happens after support for the bill has actually increased among elected officials, and represents a disappointing success for the movement to securitize and privatize the Internet after the failures of SOPA and PIPA in early 2012. The bill will now go to the Senate, where passage is not guaranteed but enjoys disturbing, widespread support.

Related: Beware: CISPA Gets Closed-Door Hearing Tomorrow

CISPA, an update to the 1947 National Security Act, is meant to facilitate greater sharing of critical information between intelligence organizations and corporations involved in the technology sphere, in order to more quickly respond to the growing threat of cyberattacks. However, the bill contains vague language that doesn’t fully protect the privacy of law abiding citizens, and also subtly defines many forms of copyright infringement under the banner of ‘cyber terrorism’. (Read a dispassionate breakdown of the bill here.)

As online activists have been making clear now for more than a year, CISPA seems to represent not actual necessity, but a wish list handed to Congress by copyright holders and the national security apparatus. Perhaps that’s why arguments in favor of passing CISPA have bordered on the absurd. One Congressman, Republican Mike McCaul of Texas, went so far as to conjure up the Boston bombings in order to frighten representatives into voting the ‘correct’ way. “Recent events in Boston demonstrate that we have to come together as Republicans and Democrats,” he said, adding that “in the case of Boston, there were real bombs. In this case, they are digital bombs — and these digital bombs are on their way.”

Naturally, the fact that the Boston attacks were completely unrelated to cybersecurity in any form escaped the distinguished gentleman’s attention, or at least the attention of his colleagues. The obfuscation of the realities of the Boston Tragedy is even more offensive when one considers how similar arguments were not employed when an attempt to reform certain gun laws died in the Senate only yesterday. This is noteworthy because in each case, the opinion of Congress was known in advance of the vote, a fact I will cynically note suggests that the justifications are purely ex post facto. Make of that what you will.

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18 Comments on CISPA Passes House – Is it Time For Gamers To Panic?

Kman

On April 18, 2013 at 1:03 pm

This means War.

gasmaskangel

On April 18, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Absolutely disgusting. The invocation of the Boston tragedy in particular makes the bile rise. I sometimes wonder how these people live with themselves, then I realize that many of these people have no understanding of how the real world works as they’ve demonstrated time and time again.

JawaEsteban

On April 18, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Write letters. The paper kind. The internet makes it so easy to create petitions and email campaigns that Congress pretty much ignores all electronic correspondence. However, it’s a rare congresscritter who’s not painfully aware that an individual willing to take the time to write a letter is an individual who cares enough about the issue to vote on it, and bring friends.

As always, polite and intelligent wording is essential. If you sound like a high school dropout with a Twitter addiction, expect to be ignored. Harsh/violent language will also get your letter circular-filed immediately, and may result in a visit from a representative of your local FBI office who will take a very uncomfortable interest in your personal affairs.

Paper, pens, and stamps, people. Let’s get on it.

Derek

On April 18, 2013 at 3:51 pm

The goal of increased communication for security is great and important, and yes it will obviously affect privacy. The only way around it is to get more granular in the rules, which one would think that means balancing privacy versus security. However it is impossible to keep such granular rules/laws up to date with technology without being vague or covering broad scopes, My experience in IT has taught me that.

But still, any mention of copywrite in a cyber security bill is bull and the bill should be scrapped. The fact that copywrite is in there just further proves how corrupt politicians really are. ing corporations should have no say what the . Their concerns of profits combined with corrupt politicians are causing a split on a bill that would otherwise help secure our critical computer controlled infrustructure.

Evernessince

On April 18, 2013 at 7:14 pm

Not much has changed. If you want to encourage companies to share data with you, why not take a more active stance toward such a goal instead of destroying what little privacy we have left while also opening the door to more corporate BS. This bill is going to allow companies to NOT guarantee your information will be safe with them and allow them to share personal information without any consent. Ad companies will like it, identity thieves will like it, the average joe will not.

This bill is beyond bad and I don’t think these representatives understand the gravity of what this bill bows in. This is an american speaking and I am tired of my government sticking it’s hand in everyone else’s “pot”, the era of big stick politics is over. Time to move on to issues that actually have a positive impact, like a civil works bill.

mwallek

On April 19, 2013 at 7:07 am

Our national “leaders” are simply self serving fleshbags that look to benefit themselves while betraying the citizens, at least those citizens without offshore accounts.

Sickening

On April 19, 2013 at 8:24 am

The US was already in terminal financial, moral, and liberal decline. The passing of this act, coupled with the defeat for tighter firearms checks, has merely increased the morphine dose.

I feel sorry for the majority of Americans who are being unfairly repressed by this pathetic corporate climate.

Robyn

On April 19, 2013 at 9:23 am

America, leaders of the ‘free’ world. lol.

oldschool

On April 19, 2013 at 10:26 am

This isnt law yet. Theres been a lot of crazy stuff that has passed in the house over the yrs. It still has to go through the senate and obama said he’ s favoring a veto if it even gets to him. I personally feel it going no where.

KiriONE

On April 19, 2013 at 11:20 am

Always like Ross’ articles.

I would say that this sort of political behavior isn’t surprising (legislation based on misguided understanding), after all this is the same country that banned alcohol 100 years ago. This is a bought congress it’s been that way for years. Seeing at how-shockingly anti-consumer this bill is, is perfect evidence of that. I’m not one to don the tinfoil hat, but I mean come on. Quite honestly with how easy reddit and 4chan and Anonymous drag up “evildoer’s” information, the U.S. government and their vast amount of resources can’t spot “cyber threats” in a way that doesn’t involved infringing on our rights as netizens?

Sadly, the younger ‘digital’ generation will respond simply by posting facebook and twitter statuses believing that it will actually bring about change.

Sishark

On April 19, 2013 at 11:47 am

I can’t believe that this bill has gotten this far again, it feels like last year’s fight all over again. This is seriously the time for people to start standing up and telling their senators just how strongly they oppose CISPA. If you go to this site http://www.senate.gov/pagelayout/senators/f_two_sections_with_teasers/states.htm you can find the number and email address for your states senators. If you want to fight back against this mess of a bill then you should really consider calling up your senators and telling them why your so opposed to the CISPA bill and then send them an email. Many representatives never received a single phone call about this monstrosity. Even if making these phone calls doesn’t work we could least say that we tried to stop this thing.

lol

On April 19, 2013 at 6:08 pm

Who cares, your information is all over the internet for anyones use whether you like it or not. And if it’ll stop another Boston Marathon, Sandy Hook, VT, Columbine than all the better.

Diet Croak

On April 20, 2013 at 2:51 am

‘lol’ – your attempts at trolling have lost all impact because you don’t show any subtlety or restraint. Nobody on here even believes that YOU believe this crap anymore. It’s time you found another site to attempt to irritate if you’re not willing to provide intelligent debate on this one. Either that or go outside.

Red Menace

On April 20, 2013 at 5:27 pm

Call your Senators.

David

On April 22, 2013 at 7:28 am

Gosh. Terrible thing, isn’t it, to invoke an actual terrorist attack, by, y’know, actual terrorists, when debating an anti-terrorist bill?

Certainly nothing like the two months we’ve spent listening to The Usual Suspects waving the bloody shirt of Sandy Hook in a doomed effort to pass civil-liberty-infringing laws that–by the admission of their own authors–would have done absolutely nothing to stop that event.

Live by the bloody shirt, die by the bloody shirt. Get over it.

Lee

On April 22, 2013 at 8:55 am

Why even bother writing to your congress. They have been out of touch with the people for a very long time. Example at least 86 percent of Americans wanted universal background checks but Congress turned them down. If they can’t listen to 86 percent of Americans then what makes you think they will listen to us?

JawaEsteban

On April 22, 2013 at 9:51 am

@Lee
If you consider that polling data shows the average NRA member is over 5 times more likely to have written a letter to or called their congresscritter than the average gun control supporter, you can answer your own question.

Congress works on cold election math, ethics has absoutely nothing to do with it. The average American voter has the attention span of a gnat, historically, and an extremely short memory. Congress doesn’t care if a majority of the public is screaming about an issue right now, they care about how many of those same people are A) still going to be screaming about it in November 2014/2016 and B) will be upset enough at the time to vote on it even if offered some other distraction.

For the issue you mentioned (without taking a position myself, as that’s a topic for a different forum), consider that it’s only been a few months since the Newtown shooting and overall public support for gun control (overall, not specific provisions) has already dropped more than 20 points. Like I said, really short memory. Now, extrapolate that trend a year and a half forward, and you’ll understand why Congress voted the way it did.

Compound that further by the fact that NRA members, through their very high rate of letter-writing/calls, have made it very clear to their respective congresscritter that they are single-issue voters. By ‘single-issue’, I mean that the voter uses one issue (gun control, abortion, immigration etc. etc.) as the overriding factor when they actually vote. Single-issue voters have long memories, and they can’t be bought off (generally). A single issue voter would elect Attila the Hun as long as he agreed with them on, say, abortion for example. Now, you take a room full of democrats and offer them immigration reform or rights in exchange, and support for gun control absolutely splinters. Plenty of polling data to back that up, by the way. On average, they’re much more of a multi-issue voting block.

In this case, we as gamers should take a page from the NRA’s playbook. Make it known to your congresscritter that you are a single-issue voter on electronic privacy/freedom. The best way to do that is to write.

lee

On April 22, 2013 at 10:33 am

The reason why I feel that we should not bother trying is because I have lost faith in congress to get anything done. Not to mention they are out of touch for nearly a hundred years. Don’t believe me just look up some views congress made about rape.