• United States



Contributing writer

Does Mozilla coming out against CISPA matter?

May 02, 20123 mins

Mozilla joins privacy advocates in criticizing the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, but Microsoft is apparently back on the supporter list

Enterprise sector support for the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, is hardly crumbing. But there is a crack in the wall.

The nonprofit Internet company Mozilla came out against CISPA late Tuesday in an e-mail to Forbes’ Andy Greenberg, saying: “While we wholeheartedly support a more secure Internet, CISPA has a broad and alarming reach that goes far beyond Internet security. The bill infringes on our privacy, includes vague definitions of cyber security, and grants immunities to companies and government that are too broad around information misuse.”

[Bill Brenner on Salted Hash: CISPA fight far from over. Don’t fall asleep]

For those keeping score, Mozilla’s stance was countered by software giant Microsoft quashing reports that it had withdrawn its support for the bill. CNET reported last week that Microsoft had issued a statement saying it would support the law only if it would allow it, “to honor the privacy and security promises we make to our customers.”

While CNET’s Declan McCullagh stressed that this was “not a complete reversal” from Microsoft’s position when the legislation was introduced in November 2011, numerous others took it that way.

Over the weekend, RT reported that, “CISPA has just lost a powerful backer, with Microsoft withdrawing its support for the controversial cybersecurity bill …”

But Microsoft responded in a statement reported by The Hill, saying, “Microsoft’s position remains unchanged. We supported the work done to pass cyber security bills last week in the House of Representatives and look forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders as the Senate takes up cybersecurity legislation.”

Still, Rainey Reitman, activism director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says the organization is, “doing outreach to the tech community, trying to explain how vital it is that they take a role in privacy on the Internet. We want to create ecosystem where everybody feels safe.”

That will be impossible with a law that U.S. Representative and Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul has described as, “Big Brother writ large, putting the resources of private industry to work for the nefarious purpose of spying on the American people,” Reitman said.

EFF and other civil liberties and privacy advocates are especially focused on the fact that CISPA would allow information sharing with the National Security Agency, instead of being controlled by the civilian Department of Homeland Security. Reitman says putting personal information into the hands of NSA will not be good for individuals or businesses.

“In a long relationship with NSA, we’ve found them unusually difficult for public accountability,” she says. “We don’t want them controlling cybersecurity structures because there is no oversight. We never have a good idea of who has the data and how it’s being used.”