Big Internet Companies Back CISPA

Big Internet Companies Back CISPA

By: Qichen Zhang on 13 April 2012

This week, media outlets reported that major software and technology companies have come public with their support of the CISPA proposal recently laid out on the Congressional table, which would increase the power of the US government to monitor online communications. Facebook, Microsoft, IBM, and other Silicon Valley heavy hitters wrote to the Committee on Intelligence to commend them for developing the act. In Facebook’s letter, the firm wrote:

Your thoughtful, bipartisan approach will enhance the ability of companies like Facebook to address cyber threats. Effective security requires private and public sector cooperation, and successful cooperation necessitates information sharing. Your legislation removes burdensome rules that currently can inhibit protection of the cyber ecosystem, and helps provide a more established structure for sharing within the cyber community while still respecting the privacy rights and expectations of our users.

Fred Humphries, the Vice President of U.S. Government Affairs at Microsoft, also wrote positively in response to CISPA:

I want to commend Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers and Ranking Member Dutch Ruppersberger for the introduction of the CISPA of 2011. The legislation would seek to eliminate barriers and disincentives that currently prevent effective information sharing to guard against cyber-attacks.

Lifehacker reports that most of the support is due to the transfer of liability and responsibility for cybersecurity that the bill would provide. Currently, the private companies themselves must keep track of user activity on their websites. But CISPA would give that responsibility to a separate government agency, relieving companies of the burden.

However, this has led to certain consumers revolting against companies due to their concern over the implications on user privacy. A number of Netflix users have already canceled their accounts due to the company’s support of CISPA and Netflix’s creation of a political action committee to work toward passing CISPA. In response, Netflix said, “[The PAC] was not set up for the purpose of supporting SOPA or PIPA. Instead, Netflix has engaged on other issues including network neutrality, bandwidth caps, usage based billing and reforming the Video Privacy Protection Act.”


Discussion Questions

Hi Everyone,

We hope you enjoyed our presentation tonight!! We were very excited to share our work with you. Unfortunately due to time constraints we did not have enough time to get to our discussion questions, but to get the conversation going, we will post them here:

Question 1: How do governments frame the narratives around their policies within the context certain communication models i.e. public service model, development model, etc.?

Question 2: What are new models for intellectual property rights?  As in, moving from communication control to democracy and open source? And how would this affect developing countries?

So we’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions. If you have comments not related to our questions, we’d like to hear those too! Thanks everyone!

Topic Guide on Communication and Governance, CommGap

Topic Guide on Communication and Governance, CommGap

This guide serves as a current and thorough literature review of the role of communication in development, governance, major debates surrounding the relationship between communication, government accountability and responsiveness, and state-society relations in developing countries.

It highlights practical guidance, lessons learned and case studies on supporting the development of independent and plural media systems, increasing access to information, and using communication tools in development in a variety of contexts.

Happy reading!!

U.S.- Uruguay Bilateral Investment Treaty



Section: Annex 1

Characteristics: restricts ownership and management of the media to Uruguayan nationals. It’s really interesting because communications is the only industry singled out to protect national culture.

Model: Nationalist-Cultural

Strengths: Tries to preserve the national cultural heritage and collective national interest.

Weaknesses: Restricted ownership might result in a lack of diversity in media content.

Effectiveness: This policy is reactionary and protectionist. It’s an extreme reaction to a fear of a loss of culture. It devotedly keeps out foreign investment. It shows extensive state intervention in content regulation and infrastructure regulation. The collective identity interests take precedence over individual rights in this case. 

CAFTA – Central American Free Trade Agreement



Section: 10 – Investment and 13 – Telecommunications

Characteristics: Opening up state-run telecommunications industry to establish a free market. Expansion of NAFTA

Model: Liberal model

Strengths: Opens the U.S. market to Central American products.

Weaknesses: The U.S. is imposing its policies and values on the Central American countries.

Consistency/coherence: Mixed. Some countries are adhering to it, but others are not. Costa Rica has a separate annex for telecommunications because it refuses to give up its government monopoly.

Effectiveness: The telecommunications industries must open up to U.S. investors and service suppliers. Companies shouldn’t get special treatment just because they’re owned by the national government, and foreign companies should get national treatment. If granted national treatment, foreign investors must be treated no differently than domestic investors. If such agreements become a reality, developing countries will be prevented from taking the very same actions that developed countries took in their early stages of industrialization. Because of the natural advantages of the multinational corporations, the result will be unfair preferences for foreign investors.

Recommendations: Developing countries must be able to pursue strategies that ensure that foreign investment contributes in a positive manner to the realization of national goals. Additionally, developed countries should pursue trade positions that will benefit the public welfare rather than the bottom line of a few large multinational corporations.

HADOPI – Creation and Internet Law/France 3 Strikes Law


Link to Document:

Characteristics: Utilizes a graduated response system to protect copyrighted material. Internet users who violate copyright protections will receive warnings and on their third strike may have their Internet shut off by their Internet Service Provider (ISP). Meant to stimulate creativity by protecting creators and encouraging them to create more in the future.

Model: Tilts towards the Liberal model because it focuses on property rights. And the State acts as the facilitator of property. And it maximizes the provision of information through market mechanisms .

It’s also the Public Service model because the Internet, an information service, is treated as ‘public service’ and not a market commodity. And the State sets the policies surrounding that public service.

Strengths: Encourages the legal buying and selling of copyrighted material. It also protects the property rights of individuals. And it stimulates creative development and encourages artists and creators to create more, with the promise of financial reward.

Weaknesses: Law denies the accused Internet users of due process because of the fast-tracked procedure of account suspensions. Disconnecting Internet access is a drastic measure that has wider implications beyond fighting piracy. It violate free speech rights by keeping people from participating in the Information Society. It also puts pressure on intermediaries, such as the ISPs.

Effectiveness: Has stopped some copyright infringement in France. Peer-to-peer file-sharing of copyrighted material was down. And itunes sales of music were up, indicating more people were buying their music than illegally downloading it, which is also a stimulus for creativity. But there has also been lots of controversy over the law and how it has the possibility to shut people off from the Internet unfairly, with an after-the-fact appeals process. Many feel it is a violation of the right of free speech by keeping people from participating in the information society. Others feel access to Internet is a human right that France is taking away. So while it has provided copyright holders with more rights, it has taken away the rights of Internet users.

Recommendations: If the Internet is going to be regulated, it needs to be regulated in a way that gives people more rights and some kind of due process before punishing them. Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google said “before we decide there is a regulatory solution, let’s ask if there’s a technological solution.” So perhaps a better solution lies in the realm of programmers and engineers.