Mozilla Opposes CISPA As Google Stays ‘Silent’

Posted by · May 2, 2012 4:24 pm

On Monday, privacy advocates cheered as they heard what seemed to be an unequivocal disowning of CISPA by Microsoft. After telling CNET over the weekend that it would not support a cybersecurity bill that did not allow companies “to honor the privacy and security promises” made to its customers, word quickly spread that the once-outspoken supporter of CISPA had changed its mind.

Mozilla Opposes CISPAAll such celebration came to a screeching halt, however, when Microsoft made it clear in a statement that same day making it clear that the company’s stance on the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act “remains unchanged.”

Not to be lumped in with Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Oracle and other CISPA supporters in the tech world, Mozilla announced Wednesday that it stands opposed to the cybersecurity bill.

In a statement sent to Forbes, the company’s Privacy and Public Policy had the following to say about CISPA:

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 cybersecurity, and grants immunities to companies and government that are too broad around information misuse. We hope the Senate takes the time to fully and openly consider these issues with stakeholder input before moving forward with this legislation.

Mozilla’s announcement marks the first voice out of Silicon Valley to criticize the bill. Meanwhile, most companies in the tech industry have remained either completely silent or supportive of CISPA, as noted above. Noticeably absent from that list, however, has been Mozilla’s neighbor Google. Despite “working behind the scenes” in the revision process the House passed CISPA, the web giant is yet to take an official stance on the bill.

And considering the latest statement out of Google, it does not appear that one is coming anytime soon.

“We think this is an important issue and we’re watching the process closely but we haven’t taken a formal position on any specific legislation,” a Google spokesperson commented.

Such a comment is sure to be particularly disconcerting to privacy advocates who found themselves fighting alongside Google during the protests against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA)—action that ultimately led to the demise of both bills. And to an extent, they have good reason to be. Commenting on Google’s involvement in the process, CISPA author Rep. Mike Rogers said Google had been “helpful and supportive” in determining the “right language” to get the controversial bill through the House. Since its passage, the new version of CISPA still falls terribly short of the expectations expressed by privacy advocates and the White House alike.

Although particularly troublesome language concerning “intellectual property” theft was removed from the bill, the new CISPA has retained its particularly broad provisions on personal information sharing—including email content and web search history—between private institutions and the NSA, as well as its nonexistent limitations on how such information can be used once it’s been shared.

And as the bill makes its way through the Senate, privacy experts warn that prospects aren’t looking much better.

However, now that Mozilla has made its oppositional stance known, it remains to be seen if others will follow the company’s lead—in which case we just might be right around the corner from another SOPA-like movement.

What do you think? Will Mozilla’s announcement lead to others in the industry speaking out against CISPA?

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