The CISPA blackout protest and Earth Day 2013 both are taking place on April 22, 2013. Each seeks to remind us of precious things we don't realize we would miss until they are gone...
When I woke up this morning I became vaguely aware that it was Earth Day as Google Doodle did its always-so-awesome job of creating the perfect doodle to commemorate an important day. For some, however, Earth Day 2013 wont be remembered as a day to celebrate our precious resources like water, but rather a day to stand for another kind of resource: the resource of a right to privacy. According to those supporting the CISPA blackout protest today, the right to privacy may be a resource we need to think about more carefully as they believe CISPA, if passed in Congress, could threaten this valuable resource.
Earth Day 2013: Anonymous' Stop CISPA Protest Rallies 300 Websites To Blackout
Supporters of STOP CISPA blackout which is taking place today across 300 websites are taking this Earth Day venture quite seriously though, unfortunately, not so many businesses and websites shared their sentiments. The protest was largely organized by members of the Anonymous Hacktivist group, and called on websites to join the STOP CISPA protest and black their screens. Indeed, at one point Anonymous was hoping Google might not feature its Earth Day 2013 doodle but rather a blackened screen signifying its support.
Though in the past Google has taken a stance against privacy encroaching bills such as SOPA -- the Stop Online Piracy Act which was brought to vote in January 2012 -- this year and at this time, the company seems to have gone silent on the issue of CISPA and has moved on to its happy Earth Day 2013 doodle.
The Earth Day 2013 Google Doodle shows a peaceful mountain meadow, with a lake complete with a school of fish. As users click around the scene the habitat comes to life with fireflies, lighting, and a bear emerging out of a cave. And for the wishful dreaming type the dandelions can be "blow out." Yes, such a pleasant Earth Day scene. Meanwhile, darkness fills the screens of 300+ websites and a lively discussion of CISPA and its possible implications rages on Reddit.
What is Cispa? What Is The Problem With CISPA?
So why are opponents of CISPA so adamantly against it? And what is the reason for the blackout? Well, with CISPA comes the ability for government to receive information from private businesses and corporations, which potentially could be used against individuals on the Internet without their knowledge.
Many businesses however support this bill because it lifts from them a huge burden they currently carry--the burden of monitoring the actions of users on their sites. According to LifeHacker, if CISPA passes, sites would have the power to give potentially threatening information to the government, and the government would deal with it.
So soon all your favorite websites and mine can become government informants. Informants who are informing without your knowledge, blurring the lines of privacy and stepping into the territory of unreasonable search.
Though I have always been one who believes that if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear, still this law does give some cause for concern.
You see if CISPA passes, private businesses would have free reign to obtain and review your or my sensitive data - data like heath records, banking and online activity. All these things could be shared without your knowledge and without a warrant. Also, you can expect the anonymity you enjoy on the Internet would soon disappear as Twitter, Facebook and Google and other major online corporations would not be able to protect your privacy.
In addition, lawmakers recently struck down amendments to the bill which would protect us from undue search. As the bill stands now employers could also delve deep into your personal information, demanding the passwords to your social media accounts as a pre-requisite to receiving a job. If you ever heard the expression "big brother is watching you", CISPA has that one written all over it.
Learn More About About Cispa
To learn more about just how CISPA could affect your privacy rights, I would encourage you to pop over to the "CISPA is Back" webpage and just take a look with an open mind. Consider the information provided and think about the implications presented. Then if you feel compelled to join in the protest, there is plenty of information available for how you can get involved.
I am so happy to see organizations like Google, using their innovative talents to put us in mind of things that are important. Things like Earth Day and preserving our resources. But, somehow I wish they had considered presenting another message, or a different doodle. Something that might highlight the importance of what is happening in congress and the vote on CISPA. For now though, we just have to be satisfied with blowing out dandelions on Earth Day 2013, as our right to privacy doesn't seem to be something the online giant wants to address. Of course as the saying goes, you don't know what you have until you've lost it. My hope is, this will not be the case with our rights to privacy.