Web

CISPA battle heats up, as both sides fight to control the message

CISPA-1

The Cyber Sharing Intelligence and Protection Act (CISPA) is going to pass the House, and pass easily, unless those who oppose this bill can gain control of the conversation in the next few days. And the supporters of CISPA in Congress are doing everything they can to make sure that does not happen.

CISPA opponents push back

On Monday, a deep coalition of Internet and civil liberty advocacy groups, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT), Reporters Without Borders, Fight for the Future, and others, launched the “Stop Cyber Spying” campaign, which seeks to spread the word about the dangers of CISPA, and ultimately kill the bill.

According to these groups, CISPA poses a grave threat to individual privacy by allowing companies to share private information with the government without judicial oversight or any consequence for mistreating private data. They also warn that the National Security Agency (NSA), a military organization with little public oversight, would potentially have access to the information.

The anti-CISPA campaign urges concerned citizens to contact their representatives, through Twitter, or any other means possible. The groups have set up resource pages, and systems for easily contacting representatives. They have created a hashtag (#CongressTMI — as in “too much information”) to help coalesce the conversation. They are reaching out to the press to spread the word even further, and urging other CISPA opponents to extend the anti-CISPA message however they can.

Since the anti-CISPA campaign launched early Monday morning, some of those in favor of the bill have already begun to respond. The Business Software Alliance (BSA), a pro-CISPA trade organization that represents a wide variety of technology companies including Intel and Microsoft (both of which have also voiced explicit support for CISPA), met with the CDT late Monday, in an attempt to find common ground on the bill. While neither side wavered on their position, the BSA did say that the bill “could benefit from sharpening.”

Pro-CISPA camp moves ahead

The campaign has already managed to make a ripple in the conversation — but it needs to make a tsunami. Unfortunately for CISPA opponents, the signs of such a monumental shift happening are currently nonexistent. For example, Reddit, a community that is both informed about CISPA and ready to jump at any chance to voice its righteous indignation, has responded to the campaign with a resounding “meh.” And while many people are making use of the #CongressTMI hashtag, not a single company or representative has wavered in their support for the bill.

At the same time, Rep. Mike Rogers (D-MI), chief sponsor of CISPA, is taking the CISPA opposition very seriously — something supporters of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) failed to do, until it was too late. Since the anti-CISPA faction began to gain steam a few weeks ago, Rogers and company have done everything in their power to get ahead of the wave. They reached out to critical press (your author included) to try to explain away concerns with the bill. They launched a House Intelligence Committee Twitter feed to help promote the bill. And they have made every attempt to appear reasonable, going so far as to make (or consider) changes to the bill (PDF) in an attempt to appease critics. They also have enjoyed the reiterated support from companies like Facebook and Intel, both of which have released statements in support of CISPA this week.

CISPA supporters say the legislation provides necessary changes to the current rules and regulations to allow for greater sharing of “cyber threat intelligence” between the government and the private sector as a way to combat cyber threats and threats to national security. They argue that the legislation is needed to protect both individuals and business from malicious actors, who seek to steal private information, as well as trade secrets and valuable research and development information. Unlike SOPA, CISPA enjoys vast support from all sectors of the business community, including many of the nation’s leading technology companies. CISPA also has the support of 106 Members of the House — more than twice the number SOPA ever had.

What happens next

Over the next few days, both sides of the CISPA debate will do everything in their power to control the conversation. Rep. Rogers has indicated that he plans to counterattack any serious criticism that arises. And the anti-CISPA campaign will continue to spread the word as quickly as it can. As it stands now, however, it does not look like CISPA can be stopped, at least not before the full House votes on the bill. The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) today formally filed CISPA, a necessary step before proceedings can take place on the House floor, which is expected to happen next week.

In other words: If the CISPA opposition wants to win this fight, they have precious little time to do so.

Social Media

Facebook expands fact-checking net to try to catch doctored photos and videos

Facebook is now fact-checking images and video along with articles, using third-party organizations. New A.I. helps flag potential fakes for human review, but user flags and comments still help recognize what content might not be accurate.
Movies & TV

September brings 'The Dragon Prince,' an animated war series, to Netflix

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in September 2018, from 'Spotlight’ to ‘Black Panther’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, subdued humor, or anything in between.
Gaming

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Gaming

These are the best Xbox One games out right now

More than four years into its lifespan, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From 'Cuphead' to 'Halo 5,' the best Xbox One games offer something for everyone.
Emerging Tech

Stay up-to-date on Hurricane Florence’s path with these apps and websites

Looking to track Hurricane Florence's path towards the U.S. coast? This list of the best hurricane apps and websites with help you stay ahead of this or any future storm, and stay safe.
Web

Firefox Reality wants to bring the ‘whimsical web’ to VR

Mozilla launched a VR-powered web browser today called Firefox Reality. But just what does browsing the web in VR feel like? We went hands-on with this new browser to see how Mozilla imagines the future of virtual reality content.
Computing

How to easily record your laptop screen with apps you already have

Learning how to record your computer screen shouldn't be a challenge. Lucky for you, our comprehensive guide lays out how to do so using a host of methods, including both free and premium utilities, in both MacOS and Windows 10.
Mobile

From true crime to comedy, here's our list of the best podcasts around

When you aren’t in the music mood, podcasts can be your ear candy. Whether you love to stay up-to-date on the latest news or want to know what’s happening in sports, you’ll find something on our must-listen-to podcast roundup.
Social Media

How to run a free background check

There are plenty of legitimate reasons for carrying out a background check, and not all of them are creepy. Here are several methods that allow you to run a thorough background check on someone online, whether you need to vet a potential…
Computing

Is your Wi-Fi screwing up again? Here's our list of the best wireless routers

Check out the best wireless routers for a variety of homes and apartments. We've collected the top routers for wireless management, 4K streaming, professional gaming, Wi-fi on a budget, and much more. Take a look at our top pick, then check…
Computing

Need to convert video in a flash? These free apps and services will do the job

Devices that are capable of playing video can be a picky bunch to say the least. Fortunately, the best free video converters can render format issues a thing of the past. Here are our current favorites.
Gaming

YouTube has a new destination for gamers as it plans to shutter gaming app

YouTube is shuttering its gaming app early next year and turning its attention to developing a brand-new gaming destination on its main site. The app launched in 2015 as part of efforts to take on video-gaming platform Twitch.
Smart Home

Is Amazon tweaking its search algorithms with a new A.I.-driven shopping site?

Amazon is testing a new shopping site, Amazon Scout, which combines a visual aesthetic with customers' ability to like and dislike products, collecting more data on users' habits and preferences.