CISPA is ba-aack!

CISPA is back, looming over your online privacy.  Beware!

Last April CISPA,  (the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act) proposed allowing the US government and private corporations to bypass normal privacy protections and view all information being exchanged by US citizens.  The law made it very easy for private companies and the government to see your online activities, spy on your mobile messages, and also block access to social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Gmail or YouTube.

The proposed act passed the House of Representatives, but died in the Senate after a threatened veto from President Obama and widespread protests organized by privacy advocates and civil rights organizations. Now, less than a year later, CISPA has been reintroduced to Congress. Even more ominous, Congress is discussing this Act behind closed doors.

The New CISPA, like the old CISPA, would save social networking companies like Twitter, Facebook, or Microsoft from official liability when they pass your personal online data to the government, without considering your privacy. This bill empowers the government to utilize that data for purposes unrelated  to cyber privacy.

Critics say that the new CISPA is almost unchanged from last year’s version,  giving the government unrestricted access to data without requiring personal information such as names or ID numbers to be stripped out.

Advocates say they need the ability to share information on emerging threats without liability or anti-trust concerns. One positive example they cite is the anti-virus industry exchanging information on new malware.  But unlike CISPA, anti-virus companies don’t  share information that includes  private data from individuals.  In addition, CISPA came into existence because the government thinks that you might have misused copyrighted content on the internet.  With the help of CISPA they can easily tag you as a “cyber threat” and force a particular website to send your personal information, which could range from your Gmail history, the sites you have visited on the internet, the videos you have watched, etc.

If CISPA turns into law, it will represent a major risk to your online privacy.  And it could undermine your online freedom. You will no longer feel free  while browsing the internet

With Congress about to start debate on this Act, it is time for you to make your voice heard. You can contact your elected representatives or join other groups such as the ACLU, the Center for Democracy and Technology (www.cdt.org) or the  Electronic Frontier Foundati (www.eff.org) to oppose this bill. Of course, using Hotspot Shield VPN can also lessen your concerns about online security.  Hotspot Shield maintains your online privacy and allows you to browse with complete anonymity. It replaces your original IP address with a new US IP address. In this way no one—not a company nor the government–can see your online activities.

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