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12 April 2012, 10:07

Proposed US cyber security bill criticised

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A proposed bill concerning the sharing of intelligence to combat cyber crime in the US has been criticised by civil rights campaigners and journalists. The "Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act" (CISPA) sets out to to regulate which potentially confidential information can be shared between government agencies – such as the intelligence services and investigative authorities – and the private sector.

The House of Representative's Intelligence Committee approved the controversial bill by a large majority in December, but the chamber's representatives still need to vote on it. Critics fear that the bill in its current form could have even more severe consequences than the SOPA and PIPA bills that caused much controversy and which have been shelved for the time being.

The "Center for Democracy and Technology" (CDT), for example, thinks that the proposal far oversteps the mark, saying that the bill has a very broad definition of the information that can be shared between private companies and government agencies. The non-profit organisation is concerned that this could undermine privacy regulations and shift the control of cyber-security efforts from civilian institutions to military ones.

Reporters Without Borders, a non-governmental organisation advocating freedom of the press, warns of a "draconian cyber security bill". According to the organisation, the bill intends to establish a blanket monitoring system that could include web blocking and centralised filtering. The organisation said that the definition of potential threats is not limited to attacks on networks or IT systems and includes the "theft or misappropriation of private or government information, intellectual property, or personally identifiable information".

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) believes that "We need to stop this bill in its tracks", as it fears that the bill's language is so vague that it could be used as an instrument against web sites such as The Pirate Bay or WikiLeaks. At, an online petition that considers the bill a warrant for spying on every Internet user has already attracted more than 600,000 signatures.

(Stefan Krempl / fab)

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