Friday, February 17, 2012

Newt, SOPA, and the Cybersecurity Act of 2012


Much of the hoopla regarding SOPA, the “Stop Online Piracy Act” has died down during the past month and half.  Why?  The huge outcry by just about everyone ranging from Facebook, Google, Wikipedia, petition drives, (one by Google claiming it received 7 million signatures), and on and on, has effectively drove the message to Congress that SOPA was something that people were not happy with, even my buddy Newt and his GOP comrades were all against it. (The exceptions were with many of the large entertainments studios and some other surprising SOPA proponents).  Towards the end of January, Reuters reported that Congressman Lamar Smith, one of the originators of the bill, retracted the measure “until there is a wider agreement on a solution.”  So is it dead?  Everyone thinks it is but there is some grumbling that it has evolved into an ugly version created by Department of Homeland Security, called the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 just introduced on February 14th.  So has SOPA simply done a makeover with a new name?  Not really.  The bill introduced by Sen. Joseph Lieberman, calls for DHS to “monitor” privately owned networks and systems for “disruptions” that “would cause mass death, evacuation, or major damage to the economy, national security, or daily life”.  At least for now, it appears that it aims to go after real bad actors, especially from hackers and foreign soil from committing cyberattacks, in spite of some of the Orwellian language as interpreted by opponents of bill.  SOPA/PIPA on the other hand was interpreted as giving a means to one industry to attack another or censoring it without due process.

So will SOPA come back?  I would expect so.  Although, on January 14, 2012, the Obama administration stated that while it would not support legislation with provisions that could lead to Internet censorship, squelching of innovation, or reduced Internet security, it encouraged “all sides to work together to pass sound legislation this year that provides prosecutors and rights holders new legal tools to combat online piracy originating beyond U.S. borders…”