Cyber Intelligence and Sharing
In late April of this year, the House passed HR 3523, also known as the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011 (CISPA). The purpose of the legislation is to allow for the sharing of information related to cyber threats. It defines "cyber threat intelligence" as information in the possession of an element of the intelligence community directly pertaining to a vulnerability of, or threat to, a system or network of a government or private entity, including information pertaining to the protection of a system or network from: (1) efforts to degrade, disrupt, or destroy such system or network; or (2) theft or misappropriation of private or government information, intellectual property, or personally identifiable information.
In the end, the legislation grants no new rights to any government entity to collect information in any way not already authorized. However, what it does do is "establish procedures to allow intelligence community elements to share cyber threat intelligence with private-sector entities," and "encourage the sharing of such intelligence." What's one of the ways that this information sharing is encouraged? Well, for starters, the legislation also exempts coorporating companies from being civily or criminally liable from any information sharing done under this legislation. So if you sign a contract with an ISP or email providor to keep your information private and the give it to the government anyway, you can't sue.
Of course, the government can't force companies to give information to them without a warrant. However, given revelations a few years ago that AT&T and other companies had willingly participated in giving information to the government and were later protected by Congress, there can be no doubt that almost all companies will go along with whatever the federal government demands of them. If not, they just might be given an impromptu IRS audit.
The CISPA vote is being tracked under both the internet freedom and security tab and the civil liberty tab for each representative.