Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The big brother of the world wide web: US wants to breach your internet privacy

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Look, who wants to watch you surfing, trending,
emailing, searching, downloading, torrenting and chatting on the
Internet! If the US government has its way, your every click of the
mouse on the web and your private chat with a friend on social media
as also the live videos you watch in the privacy of your home will
come under the Intelligence scan.

Though it is purely US legislation, it will affect almost every
netizen in the world as most of the internet servers and major online
service providers and social network companies including Google,
Twitter and Facebook are located there, and governed by American laws.
If the proposed Bill is adopted, Internet companies are bound to share
confidential data from their users with the Pentagon.

“Right now, the US Congress is sneaking in a new law that gives them
big brother spy powers over the entire web. And they are hoping the
world won't notice. We helped stop their Net attack last time, let's
do it again,” said writer and lawyer Emma Ruby Sachs, who also works
as a coordinator of Avaaz, a global web movement fighting for pressing
global, regional and national issues.

After failing to move through two similar legislations earlier, the US
government has now proposed what it calls the Cyber Intelligence
Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). This is the third attempt to
control the Internet world over after its unsuccessful attempts
through the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA).

 “Over 100 members of Congress are backing the CISPA that would give
private companies and the US government the right to spy on any of us
at any time for as long as they want without a warrant. This is the
third time the US Congress has tried to attack our Internet freedom.
But we helped beat SOPA, and PIPA -- and now we can beat this new Big
Brother law,” Sachs said in an email message to this correspondent.

Avaaz has launched a web signature campaign against the proposed
legislation and plans to submit the protest to the US Congress once it
gets 2.5 lakh online signatures. It has thus far secured the support
of about 1.75 lakh netizens.

She said global outcry has played a leading role in protecting the
Internet from governments eager to monitor and control what people do
online. Under the CISPA, if a cyber threat is even suspected,
companies people use to access the Internet will have the right to
collect information on their activities and share that with the
government. The service providers can refuse to notify the users that
they are being watched and then use a blanket immunity clause to
protect themselves from being sued for violation of privacy or any
other illegal action.

“It is a crazy destruction of the privacy we all rely on in our
everyday emails, Skype chats, web searches and more. But we know that
the US Congress is afraid of the world's response. This is the third
time they have tried to rebrand their attempt to attack our Internet
freedom and push it through under the radar, each time changing the
law's name and hoping citizens would be asleep at the wheel,” she added.

Already, Internet rights groups like the Electronic Frontier
Foundation have condemned the bill “for its interference with basic
privacy rights”. The online petition can be signed at this address:
http://www.avaaz.org/en/stop_cispa/?vl

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