Web

Oppose CISPA? Act now, or forever hold your peace

Stop CISPA

Following the House of Representative’s passage of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) late last month, things have been fairly quiet on the opposition front. But that changes now — it must, or it will be too late to stop it.

CISPA — a bill that allows for extensive sharing of information between the Federal government and private businesses — has been wrapped into the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 (CSA), also known as the “Lieberman-Collins bill” for its two primary sponsors in the Senate, and officially known as S. 2105 (full bill text).

While CISPA was fairly short, at just around 20 pages, CSA is a sweeping, 200-page piece of legislation that includes many of the privacy problems inherent with CISPA. Namely, it allows for private companies to share vast amounts of data about you with the Federal government, and allows the government to use that information to go after nearly any crime, whether it’s related to cybersecurity or not. (This last bit is far worse in CSA than it was in CISPA’s final text.) Like CISPA, CSA allows the Department of Homeland Security to pass your information to shadowy military organizations like the National Security Administration, which has little to no public oversight. These are the main problems with CSA.

In addition, CSA establishes a government regulatory framework that would require businesses that run critical infrastructure networks (like electric grids and air traffic control systems) to meet certain security standards, which they would have to report to the DHS. This part of the bill is greatly opposed by Republicans in both the Senate and the House who don’t want greater government regulation. But it is also one of the primary requirements set by the Obama administration of any cybersecurity legislation that makes it to the president’s desk.

See a detailed rundown about CSA here.

CSA is opposed (pdf) by many of the same groups that fought against CISPA, for many of the same reasons. And now a new coalition, which includes Fight for the Future, Democrats.com, The Liberty Coalition, and the Entertainment Consumers Association, have created a new website, Privacy Is Awesome, which provides a number of easy-to-use tools for contacting your senators to inform them that you oppose CISPA/CSA, and want them to vote no when the bill goes up for a vote sometime in early June.

Privacy Is Awesome makes it easy to find out who your senators are (if you don’t already know), and delivers both their phone numbers and email addresses. However, sending an email really isn’t going to do much. So you’re going to have to call. This might be intimidating to many of you, but don’t worry. Your call will almost certainly be answered by an intern or another staff member, not your senator, so you don’t have to worry about fumbling your words while speaking to a Member of Congress. And here is a short script you can use, if you are struggling for what to say:

Hi. My name is _______. I am a [student/employee with _______ / mom/ dad, etc] and I oppose the Senate Bill S. 2105, or the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, because I believe it invades my privacy and would be harmful to the open Internet. I hope you will join me in opposition to this legislation if or when it comes up for a vote before the full Senate. Thank you so much for your time.

Of course, feel free to say whatever you feel comfortable saying. Just remember that the person answering the phone is only the messenger — no need to go into a diatribe with whomever has the unlucky job of answer the phone all day. And, as always, be respectful and courteous throughout your call.

The truth of the matter is that a large majority of the bills that make it all the way to a full vote on the Senate or House floor already have enough votes to pass. So the goal here, really, is for enough people to express opposition so that it never makes it to the Senate floor. Unfortunately, the Senate is on recess all next week, so you need to make your calls today and tomorrow, or the chance to stop the bill may have already passed.

Cars

Michigan OKs digital license plates with Rplate’s connected car platform

The state of Michigan approved the use of digital license plates on motor vehicles registered in the state. Reviver Auto, the manufacturer of the Rplate connected car platform, worked with Michigan's Department of State to pass the bill.
Computing

Worried about your online privacy? We tested the best VPN services

Browsing the web can be less secure than most users would hope. If that concerns you, a virtual private network — aka a VPN — is a decent solution. Check out a few of the best VPN services on the market.
Computing

Delete tracking cookies from your system by following these quick steps

Cookies are useful when it comes to saving your login credentials and other data, but they can also be used by advertisers to track your browsing habits across multiple sites. Here's how to clear cookies in the major browsers.
Mobile

Having trouble logging in? Here's how to reset your Apple ID password

To use any of Apple's services, you need to have an Apple ID and know your password. Thankfully, there are ways to deal with forgotten passwords and regain access to your account. Here's how to reset your Apple ID password.
Computing

Reluctant to give your email address away? Here's how to make a disposable one

Want to sign up for a service without the risk of flooding your inbox with copious amounts of spam and unwanted email? You might want to consider using disposable email addresses via one of these handy services.
Social Media

YouTube to crack down on dangerous stunts like the ‘Bird Box’ challenge

YouTube already bans content showing dangerous activities, but new rules published by the site go into greater detail regarding potentially harmful challenges and pranks, including certain blindfold- or laundry detergent-based stunts.
Social Media

Nearly a million Facebook users followed these fake Russian accounts

Facebook purged two separate groups behind more than 500 fake accounts with Russian ties. One group had ties to Russian news agency Sputnik, while the other had behavior similar to the Internet Research Agency's midterm actions.
Computing

Pinning websites to your taskbar is as easy as following these quick steps

Would you like to know how to pin a website to the taskbar in Windows 10 in order to use browser links like apps? Whichever browser you're using, it's easier than you might think. Here's how to get it done.
Computing

Want to save a webpage as a PDF? Just follow these steps

Need to quickly save and share a webpage? The best way is to learn how to save a webpage as a PDF file, as they're fully featured and can handle images and text with ease. Here's how.
Web

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. With so many subreddits, however, navigating the "front page of the internet" can be daunting. Here are some of the best subreddits to get you started.
Smart Home

Amazon Prime members number more than 100 million in the U.S., survey says

Consumer Intelligence Research Partners estimated there were 101 million U.S. Amazon Prime members as of December 31, 2018. Last April, CEO Jeff Bezos wrote there were more than 100 global million Prime members.
Computing

It's not all free money. Here's what to know before you try to mine Bitcoin

Mining Bitcoin today is harder than it used to be, but if you have enough time, money, and cheap electricity, you can still turn a profit. Here's how to get started mining Bitcoin at home and in the cloud.
Computing

Need a free alternative to Adobe Illustrator? Here are our favorites

Photoshop and other commercial tools can be expensive, but drawing software doesn't need to be. This list of the best free drawing software is just as powerful as some of the more expensive offerings.
Computing

Always have way too many tabs open? Google Chrome might finally help

Google is one step closer to bringing tab groups to its Chrome browser. The feature is now available in Google's Chrome Canady build with an early implementation that can be enabled through its flag system.