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Facebook clarifies its CISPA stance. Will the web care?

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The latest tech policy debate, over the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA has put Facebook, a supporter of the law, in the web’s crosshairs. For a company that waited until the last-minute possible to take a stance on the Stop Online Piracy Act, and has in general stayed quiet on the legislative front, the backlash from the Web can’t be comfortable.

Demand Progress has been circling an online petition asking Facebook to withdraw its support from the bill, citing concerns from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Center for Democracy and Technology about how the bill would allow online services to share a user’s private information with the government. However, in a blog post Friday Facebook’s Joel Kaplan, Vice President-U.S. Public Policy argues that the legislation and Facebook’s support is far more nuanced:

That said, we recognize that a number of privacy and civil liberties groups have raised concerns about the bill – in particular about provisions that enable private companies to voluntarily share cyber threat data with the government. The concern is that companies will share sensitive personal information with the government in the name of protecting cybersecurity. Facebook has no intention of doing this and it is unrelated to the things we liked about HR 3523 in the first place — the additional information it would provide us about specific cyber threats to our systems and users.

Essentially Facebook is asking users to trust it and its intentions with regard to its support of the bill as it goes to the table to negotiate in D.C. There are a lot of issues this entire debate over CISPA brings up, including the one my colleague Derrick Harris covered when he asked if the Web was prepared to fight with nuance. But Facebook’s response also asks citizens to trust that a corporation and lawmakers can together find common ground that will protect users’ privacy and still let Facebook retain the advantage knowing about security threats via CISPA.

It’s a PR campaign of course –aimed at those reading about the petition and outcry — and one that blatantly assumes that the power in government doesn’t rest with individuals and their power to sway Congress, but individuals and their power to sway corporate interests. That’s a cynical view, but things like the Occupy movement and these online petitions suggest that cynics have decided activism done hand-in-hand with corporate backing is better than activism alone.

11 Responses to “Facebook clarifies its CISPA stance. Will the web care?”

  1. nuno coelho

    yes trust me …said the spider to the fly
    & yes trust Facebook to properly manage your data, trust banks to properly invest your money & boost the economy, trust the government & special interest groups NOT to trample citizens rights &..ooops, wait…suddenly it smells fishy in here, any idea why ?

  2. WinFree

    The problem with even a ‘voluntary’ information sharing bill is that the government is in a position to make life very easy or very difficult for any given company, especially small ones. It is part of the JOB of law enforcement agencies to use whatever means (that are not illegal) they believe will solve cases. Would YOU be comfortable with all of your business and personal communications being available as leverage, used to pressure you because you were a WITNESS to a crime, and they believe (rightly or wrongly) that you are not volunteering enough information about the situation?

    The job of law enforcement agencies is to enforce the law.
    It is the job of the laws themselves to decide the parameters within which they do their job.
    A law enforcement officer that is not using the tools they have at their disposal to solve crimes is not doing their job to the best of their ability.
    This is why the rules, the bounds, and the limits of police powers MUST be clearly and explicitly outlined, and all exceptions or broad powers MUST have rigorous and aggressive oversight, online or otherwise.

  3. The only thing that will stop these bills is a united American people. Don’t buy a cd, dvd, movie ticket, song or anything related to Hollywood or the Music Industry and see how long before they back away. If a movie that cost 50 million to make nets 20K they’ll understand. Too bad it will never happen in this country. People – get together and say no to MPAA and RIAA for just a month and see the fallout.

  4. Robert Babak Rowshan

    We could blame facebook and zuck or we could recognize that congress will continue to push for something like this as long as they are being lobbied to do so