CISPA Vote: Will Congress Decide to Badly Wound Internet Privacy?
The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) is terrible legislation that will hurt the average Internet user and destroy the incredible beauty and complexity of the Internet. Many of us take the Internet for granted, but not only is our world completely defined by it, but it is literally improving the world we live in day-by-day. It is not just that CISPA gives the government privilege to any and all user information and they can decide what information to censor, but that they make it illegal for companies to respect peoples' privacy and absolves them from any guilt if they release private information to other private companies. The Electronic Frontier Foundation says that "CISPA is written broadly enough to permit your communications service providers to share your emails and text messages with the government, or your cloud storage company could share your stored files."
Facebook and the Internet more broadly works well not because there is one group deciding all the the content and dictating who should and shouldn't interact with each other, but rather because people get on it and start groups and pages where they meet people who have as odd interests. This can be as specific as "Brony Ponies" or something like that, to extremely common interests. Facebook is only one of many, many, examples of where we benefit from keeping the Internet free and your data secure.
Moreover, we tell countries like China, North Korea, and Iran to stop censoring their Internets, and then we turn around and pass censorship legislation in the U.S. Not only does it makes us look hypocritical and potentially hurt the possibility of true Internet freedom in these countries, where they are in dire need of it, but it also sets a terrible precedent for countries who, for the time being, have free Internet.
There are some deleterious effects of Internet, but for every fault of the web, there hundreds of other good aspects that more than make up for those faults. Could people be using the Internet to cause us harm or hurt others? Certainly, but the Internet has done much more good for the people of the world than the bad people could ever imagine inflicting harm on others through it. Our culture of freedom, although decaying, has been broadcast for the entire world to see. Horrible atrocities and brutal governments are caught, red handed, on handy little phones and watched by Americans in the comfort and safety of their own homes. Polls even suggest that although in the U.S. social media is predominantly used to share memes and cultural references, in the Middle East, it's largely used to promote social issues. People are interacting and exchanging, goods, ideas and services with people they would have otherwise never known.
No one could have ever imagined the immensely positive impact of the Internet on the world and nothing is risk free —but when the benefits greatly outweigh the costs, the last thing we want is for the government to step in and hurt the incredible progress we have made.