Your internet browsing privacy is in jeopardy

Hours of our days are spent browsing the Internet. Web pages are accessible with the simple click of a button. Now, imagine how your browser history would change if someone were able to keep an eye on all of your online activity. CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act would prefer the government have access to everyone’s browsing history.

Security is vital to a functioning, safe country and precautions should be taken. However, when does security trump privacy?

CISPA is a proposed law that allows the government access to Internet traffic information between companies. The enforcement would prevent cyber attacks and allow for investigation of cyber threats. This bill comes at a time when concern is quickly growing over cyber threats from abroad.

Herbert Gooch, political science professor at CLU, explains how members of the public are the ones affected, but don’t have a say in the matter.

“The big keepers, providers seem to like it because they are guaranteed immunity from prosecution from sharing, but you and I are the losers because our privacy is potentially easier to breach,” said Gooch in an email.

The government would be allowed to research any private or public information provided on the Internet without judicial oversight.

There are sites out there that could send a red flag, but this should be treated with a different method. Our privacy should not be breached, and we should not allow companies legal access to our personal information.

“They can download thousands of PDF files and determine who to keep an eye on. The government can use that large amount of information to determine trends and make actions that are not good or democratic,” said Jose Marichal, political science professor at California Lutheran University.

This is when people start to defend their right to privacy. This was acknowledged back in 2012 when CISPA was first passed by the House of Representatives but vetoed by the Senate. This time, the Senate refused to vote on CISPA, and instead it is in the process of writing its own similar legislation.

CISPA had many people concerned about their privacy and the sharing of their personal information.

“But the costs are high. Specifically erosion of Fourth Amendment due process rights since once the government has the information, there doesn’t seem to be an adequate set of safeguards against sharing and using your private information, certainly no warrants need be justified and issued,” said Gooch.

People are fearful that this law will not be focused only on companies’ exchange of information but will monitor civilians. This is due to the bipartisan bill granting private corporations, like Facebook, the ability to share information.

According to U.S. News and World Report, Senator Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the committee, explained that passage of the law is important, but clarified how the bill’s “privacy protections are insufficient.”

Sophomore Ashley Marten thinks CISPA was designed for a legitimate reason.

“The intention isn’t to revoke rights, but to provide more protection to the American people,” said Marten. “The basic idea has positive intentions.”

The idea of CISPA isn’t necessarily dead just because Senate didn’t vote on it. It is possible that whatever legislation the Senate creates will be similar. Both pieces of legislation are an infringement upon our personal rights to privacy.

 

Holly Dunn
Staff Writer
Published May 1, 2013