Wednesday, April 18, 2012

They can’t all be SOPA: Are webizens ready to fight with nuance?

From the opinion: It’s hard to be a web user these days, especially since the government has gotten so interested in what we’re doing online. Bills and proposed regulations that target web activity and user data are popping up all the time, and it’s hard to keep track of what any of this actually means. It gets even worse when we can’t figure out who — if anyone — is actually on our side, and when compromise has to take the place of all-out war.

Occasionally, things are easy, like SOPA. It was a ridiculous bill for the myriad reasons cited between its rise to prominence in October 2011 and its eventual shelving in January 2012. It would have led to absurd lawsuits and would have proved to be an incredible burden for many web service providers. But that bill clearly targeted web users’ favorite web sites and the users themselves — if you were in one of those two camps, it was easy to pick a side.

I admit I have been somewhat taken aback, however, by the outrage over the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA — namely, the allegations that it’s little more than SOPA 2.0. As I explained in a post yesterday, although the bill does mention intellectual property, it doesn’t aim to target illegal downloading. It targets actual breaches of corporate networks in an attempt to steal files, and that’s a good thing. Read more