Rights groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Center for Democracy and Technology maintain that CISPA's ambiguous wording can cause serious problems.
For instance, there's nothing in the language of the bill that would prohibit companies from monitoring private email messages, chat messages and Facebook postings simply by claiming a cybersecurity purpose to the monitoring. They can then share that information with any other entity, including the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency, without judicial oversight. The bill affords Internet companies a great deal of immunity for conducting such information monitoring and sharing.
The bill affords Internet companies a great deal of immunity for conducting such information monitoring and sharing and offers little opportunity for Internet users to sue companies for unfairly collecting and sharing their information with the government, according to the rights groups.
They also note that while the bill is designed to enhance cybersecurity, government agencies will be able to use information provided by Internet companies for a variety of other reasons, including national security reasons. An early version of the bill contained language that would have allowed law enforcement to go after copyright infringers using the data gathered by Internet companies.
A coalition of rights groups has organized a weeklong protest against the bill this week in the hopes of stirring up broad public opposition to the bill. Similar public protests derailed two equally unpopular pieces of legislation -- the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act--a few months ago.
Despite the growing opposition to the bill, many technology companies including Google, Facebook, and AT&T and trade associations such as TechAmerica support CISPA.
TechAmerica, which was hit with a sustained denial-of-service attack recently over its support of the bill, this week, reiterated its position.
"The inability to share information is one of the greatest challenges to collective efforts toward improving our cybersecurity," the trade group's president Shawn Osborne said in a letter to Congress. "Unless there is cooperation between government and business, cyber-criminals will continue stealing money and cyber-spies will continue walking away with ideas and innovation," Osborne said..