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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said that he wants to bring up a cybersecurity vote this month. What exactly that vote will be is unclear, now that the House has passed the Cyber Information Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), a bill that would do more to strip away the privacy rights of the nation's internet users than protect critical infrastructure.

Whatever the Senate is going to do, the White House wants it to remember that it really doesn't like the House bill. White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt appeared on C-SPAN's The Communicators, and reiterated that the bill is not acceptable, specifically calling out the problematic privacy issues. That's what's happening on Capitol Hill.

In another very encouraging development, one of the heavyweights in social media, Reddit, has announced its opposition, not just to the House bill, but to the counterparts the Senate has been working on. They will oppose any bills that "don't precisely define what information can be shared between private companies and the government, how that information can be used, and adequate safeguards to ensure these protections."

And Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian takes it further. Appearing on CNN Monday, he announced that he will not be investing any of the company's earning in the upcoming Facebook IPO specifically because Facebook is supporting CISPA, telling host Soledad O'Brien:

"I understand the business value to what Facebook is doing. We’ve never seen a company like this before–ever. And it knows things about our private lives that no one else does. And one of the big issues that a lot of us in the tech community have had of late has been their support for bills like CISPA that make it really easy for companies like Facebook to hand over private data about us without any due process. So that’s why I’ll be holding off."
Every tech company should be taking that position. So far it's just Mozilla and Reddit, with Microsoft hemming and hawing and deciding to be non-committal after making some positive sounding noises. These companies undoubtedly see real potential here for exploiting their customer base in new and unprecedented ways, since the House version of the bill would grant them blanket immunity if they did something that could violate a user's privacy.

The biggest of them all, Google, is still being coy about its position now. Given how many people are using Google, and the vast amount of information from email to web searches to data held in the cloud that could be revealed to the government by CISPA, Google has a lot to lose if its users decide they'd rather not be sold out.

Tell Google: "Don't be evil. Take a public stand in opposition to CISPA."

You can also contact your Senators and tell them to oppose the House CISPA bill and any version of it that would gut existing privacy laws.


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