People of Color: Beware of Proposed Cybersecurity Laws

ColorLines' Jamilah King talked to an expert about why online-security bills like CISPA (the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act) cause anxiety among many people, and for good reason.

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ColorLines' Jamilah King talked to an expert about why cybersecurity bills like CISPA (the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act) cause anxiety among many people, and for good reason.

The Internet’s been ablaze this week with news about CISPA, a new cybersecurity bill that’s set to be introduced on the House floor next week. Vocal critics have likened it to SOPA, the doomed anti-piracy bill that caused widespread outrage and protests earlier this year. Even though the two bills are markedly different, they both touch on very sensitive topics for people: just how public is the private information we share? And who has the right to share it?

It’s a concern that’s uniquely important to communities of color. First, there’s the offline reality that black and brown bodies are surveilled, followed, and monitored at extraordinarily high rates. And then there’s the way in which race plays out online, from the how and if we get there to what we do and how much we pay once we’re plugged in.

Those facts make CISPA especially worrisome for communities of color. Whereas SOPA became a point of outrage because of its threat to shut down websites suspected of illegal piracy, CISPA makes it easier for private companies and government agencies to share information about so-called “perceived threats.” That would mean giving a formal go-ahead to a type of spying that’s already put people on edge. The New York Times recently published an investigation into law enforcement’s widespread practice of tracking cell phones, and there have been several high-profile instances in which private companies like Google and Facebook have been forced to hand over private user data to law enforcement.

Read Jamilah King's entire piece at ColorLines.

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