CISPA Passes House – Is it Time For Gamers To Panic?
Despite claims made by Representative Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) that CISPA enjoyed almost universal support – he crudely slurred opponents of the bill as nothing more than uninformed children – the fact is that a wide swath of tech industry entities and citizen advocacy groups opposed the law. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is an excellent resource for keeping track of those who oppose this legislation.
The good news, at least theoretically, is that while passage of the bill in both houses looks like a good possibility, President Barack Obama has issued a stern threat to veto the bill in its current form. Considering Obama’s record on certain civil rights issues, we should at no point take his veto for granted, but the White House’s official statement does appear to make his approval unlikely, even if the bill passes the Senate. The White House, according to the statement, “remains concerned that the bill does not require private entities to take reasonable steps to remove irrelevant personal information when sending cybersecurity data to the government or other private sector entities. Citizens have a right to know that corporations will be held accountable – and not granted immunity – for failing to safeguard personal information adequately.”
This is heartening, but we must note that one of the bill’s most ominous provisions – the inclusion of forms of copyright infringement in the definition of cyberterrorism – is not singled out for criticism by the Obama Administration. While recent amendments to the bill have stripped it of language that would have defined any copyright violation as cyberterrorism, the EFF notes that the bill’s current language allows for provisions that would protect “authorized restrictions on access.” This includes “proprietary information,” which would seem to enshrine DRM and other similar schemes under the banner of “national security”.
Now would be the time to contact your senators to let them know how you feel about CISPA. A full list of contact information can be found here. Thanks to the theater presented by the House of Representatives, we already know what to expect on the Senate floor: bad faith arguments and fearmongering. Knowing that fact in advance should be enough to convince you to remain polite and reasonable at all times when talking to your senator or their representatives. The more incensed and angry you sound, the easier it will be to write you off as merely another disgruntled citizen, and disregard whatever point you’re trying to make.
Given President Obama’s veto threat and the dysfunctional state of the US Senate, today’s passage of CISPA by no means guarantees the bill will become law. But even if it ultimately fails, we must remember that a CISPA defeat won’t make the problem go away. Our would-be informational overlords carry a quiver that is absolutely teeming with arrows. Fortunately, we’re dealing with the same legislative body that produced senator Ted “series of tubes” Stevens. Gamers and other tech-aligned citizens are obviously working with a serious advantage. That, if nothing else, gives hope we’ll eventually succeed.