Arguably the hottest topic in cyber intelligence is the highly contested Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) that is currently making its way through the legislative process in the United States.

Major Internet icons like Facebook, IBM, Intel, Microsoft and Oracle, to name a few, have come out in support of the bill and now find themselves under fire for that position.

Critics are claiming that the cybersecurity legislation is far too broad and as written could result in some type of control(s) over what is on the Internet as well as the sharing of personal information.
Privacy and protection on personal information has been at issue for over a decade.

In fact I testified before a congressional body on this topic back in the spring of 2001 shortly after leaving Netscape. This is a very complex issue given that according to the CIA World Fact Book there are now 231 countries connected to the Internet and most of them have their own rules around personal information and the rights of those individuals.

Consider this, an individual visiting in the United States using a technology provider in France to connect to the Internet goes on an eCommerce site that is hosted in Brazil and purchases a product from a company located in Bolivia. What laws apply to that transaction?

There are some that believe every country in that chain has a say in the regulations covering that purchase. Now consider the implication of CISPA on that example.

As some see it, CISPA’s broad language would allow the government and private companies to exchange private information so long as the exchange has something to do with “cybersecurity” that could have “devastating effects on the Internet and the people who hang out and do business there.” A variety of media reports are also fueling claims that CISPA is similar to, and some ways could be more harmful than other recent bills, including SOPA, that came under intense fire for threatening Internet freedoms.

This debate is far from over and I am sure that it is certain to heat up even more before all is said and done. Cyber sit-ins, DDoS attacks and good old fashion boycotts may be just over the horizon!

Kevin G. Coleman is a long-time security technology executive and former Chief Strategist at Netscape. He is Senior Fellow with the Technolytics Institute where he provides consulting services on strategic technology and security issues. He writes a weekly blog for Breaking Gov on the topic of cyber intelligence.