Cyber-spying law gets tech giant support

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Cyber-spying law gets tech giant support

After SOPA comes CISPA.

Several of America's largest technology companies have formally swung behind the proposed Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act or CISPA, a new law deemed controversial as it is thought to bypass existing privacy protection measures such as court warrants to allow data to be intercepted.

In a letter to to the drafters of the proposed law, TechNet, a policy forum for chief executives of major United States technology corporations, expresses its support for CISPA.

"The bill recognises the need for effective cybersecurity legislation that encourages voluntary, bi-directional, real time sharing of actionable cyber threat information to protect networks," the chief executive of TechNet, social justice entrepreneur Rey Ramsey wrote.

TechNet counts Apple, Cisco, Dell, Facebook, Google, HP, Intel and Microsoft as members, part of a group that includes more than seventy of the largest technology companies in the United States.

The bill before the US House of Representatives proposes a law "to provide for the sharing of certain cyber threat intelligence and cyber threat information between the intelligence community and cybersecurity entitities, and for other purposes" as drafted currently.

CISPA has been criticised by privacy and civic rights advocates such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation for creating "a gaping exception to existing privacy law while doing little to address palpable and pressing online security issues."

The EFF also says the bill as it stands allows for companies under attack to "hack back", as long as it's done in good faith.

As it is, the United States government is not backing the proposed new law saying its privacy protection provisions are insufficient, according to a report from GovInfoSecurity.

The White House is possibly also being mindful of the uproar caused by previous internet legislative efforts, such as the Stop Online Piracy Act or SOPA and its companion, the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA). 

Many large internet organisations such as Wikipedia joined vociferous mass protests against SOPA throughout last year, but the bill is still before the US House of Representatives.

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