House Cyber Legislation: Debunking the SOPA Myth

In January, an Internet phenomenon never experienced in D.C. before lead to the presumed death of two bills: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House and the Protection IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate.

In January, an Internet phenomenon never experienced in D.C. before lead to the presumed death of two bills: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House and the Protection IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate. The two bills, which pitted content providers (e.g. Hollywood) against tech companies (e.g. Silicon Valley), were designed to counter the online trafficking of intellectual property and counterfeit goods. Instead, the widely perceived overreach of the bills led to a grassroots campaign that resulted in a number of congressmen and senators retracting their support for the bills and withdrawing them from consideration.

Ever since the SOPA/PIPA defeat, pundits have searched for the next bill that would suffer a similar fate. Some have even postured that any Internet-related bill had little chance of passage as members were scared of tech bills and the uproar they saw during the SOPA saga.

In the past few weeks, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, H.R. 3523, has been compared to SOPA, with many calling for the bill to be shelved because of privacy and civil liberties concerns. The bill, which will be on the House floor this week, was said by detractors to violate the Constitution and there was a call for a protest of the bill.  Among the headlines making the net in an attempt to drum up opposition to the bill:

"Say 'hello' to CISPA, it will remind you of SOPA"

"SOPA mutates into much worse CISPA, the latest threat to internet free speech"

"Spreading CISPA Awareness (Similar to SOPA, But Worse), Anonymous Initiates Tweet Bomb"

"The Ghost of SOPA Has Congress Spooked"

Yet, even civil liberties and privacy groups have admitted that CISPA is not SOPA. They have raised issues but note that that they are more concerned about the 4th Amendment than the 1st Amendment this time around. And, what looked like a groundswell of opposition to the bill because of the privacy concerns seems to have fizzled to traditional D.C. policymaking with lots of amendments being offered to correct the bill's perceived lack of privacy and civil liberties but none of the 100+ co-sponsors is pulling their names off the bill. Few have called for the bill to be pulled off the calendar and the grassroots movement seems to be largely led by the traditional privacy interest groups within the Beltway, not the netizens empowered by SOPA.

To be fair, the bill will not come to the House floor until later this week, when we will know for sure how it fares. But, even then, should the bill unexpectedly fail, it will do so by regular order and not in the face of protests or grassroots activism.

So, what does this mean for the SOPA myth of a new world order for Congress and its attempts to legislate tech? Maybe nothing. Or, maybe it is really a lesson of civil society in the innovation era. The CISPA-SOPA comparison was a false one to begin with as SOPA did not involve privacy or what the government could do to your ability to function on the Net. Rather, the debate over CISPA is one of privacy and our level of comfortability with our information being gathered and used by both the private sector and the government. As we've seen by the recent social networking phenomenon, privacy doesn't motivate us the same way that threatening to limit our ability to do something does. We share our information freely and while we would like to think that we support privacy, what we say does not always correspond with our actions, especially as we use the net to communicate and socialize. And that is why CISPA will make it to the House floor this week.

That's not to say we are not concerned about "big brother" watching us. One need only see the dozens of amendments offered by both Republicans and Democrats to CISPA that attempt to limit the government's ability to collect certain types of data, puts restrictions on how the government can use any data shared by the private sector, or require stricter privacy and civil liberties. The co-sponsors of CISPA, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), have already agreed to take some of these amendments.  

In the end, though, the exercise this week may show that SOPA was an anomaly that is not easily replicated just because a bill references tech, the Internet, or innovation.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.