Is Cispa the New SOPA?

Groups harness social media to battle cyber-security bill in Congress

The same groups that fought off the anti-piracy bill SOPA are now rallying the Internet community against Cispa, a cyber security bill introduced Thursday during a hearing of the House Intelligence Committee.

Like all good advocacy groups these days, Internet activist groups Demand Progress and Fight for the Future are employing social media in a big way in the campaign to put added pressure on lawmakers. On the same day the Cyber Security Sharing and Protection Act was introduced, Demand Progress and Fight for the Future delivered to the Hill a petition with 300,000 signatures opposing the act. The groups also set up a dedicated Twitter account (@CISPApetition) that automatically tweets (under the hashtag #NoCISPA) a portion of the signatures every hour to Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), the chairman of the committee, and Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), the ranking member of the committee who reintroduced the bill.

Other organizations, including Free Press and the Electronic Frontier Foundation are also collecting signatures for online petitions opposing the bill. In total, the groups have amassed more than 1 million signatures to date.

Opponents of the bill argue it violates consumer privacy because it would allow companies to share users' private data with the government in unprecedented ways. Aaron Swartz, co-founder of Demand Progress, who died in January, had said, "It sort of lets the government run roughshod over privacy protections and share personal data about you."

Cispa ran into some of the same criticism from civil liberties groups and privacy advocates last year when it passed the House. President Obama said he would veto it.

Opponents of the reintroduced version remain skeptical that changes to the bill will include better privacy protections, especially since no civil liberties groups were asked to testify at Thursday's hearing.

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