Late last Thursday, April 26, 2012, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Cyber Intelligence Security Protection Act (CISPA). CISPA is a cybersecurity bill that allows the government and U.S. companies to share confidential and classified information regarding potential cyber attacks. The purpose of the bill is to strengthen U.S. infrastructure and protect it from hackers who steal valuable information, including prized trade secrets. 

We previously blogged about the Department of Justice’s support for an expansive reading of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to strengthen national security and protect critical infrastructure.

CISPA is highly controversial and opponents argue that the exchange of confidential and private information between the government and U.S. companies threatens the privacy rights of U.S. citizens who use those companies’ services. President Obama also threatened to veto the bill due to these privacy concerns.

CISPA comes off the heels of two extremely controversial, but failed, anti-piracy bills: SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act). These two bills sought to empower U.S. intellectual property rights holders to take action against foreign infringing websites that are located outside of the U.S., and, thus outside the scope of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Both SOPA and PIPA suffered from wide public protests and substantial criticism this past January, with opponents arguing that SOPA and PIPA would lead to a censored and restricted Internet and cause Internet service providers to monitor users’ computer activities.

CISPA previously contained an “intellectual property” component, but that language was rewritten to distance the bill from the negativity and increasing criticisms surrounding SOPA and PIPA.  Proponents of CISPA wanted to emphasize that the bill primarily seeks to protect against cyber attacks and not copyright or trademark infringment.  The developments of this bill merit attention.

On Thursday, Robert Milligan and I will be presenting this week at the 2012 ITechLaw World Technology Law Conference & Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., to discuss recent developments in online anti-piracy initiatives in the U.S. and Europe. While the U.S.’ attempts to pass SOPA and PIPA proved unsuccessful, several countries such as Ireland and Spain have already introduced their own anti-piracy legislation. Further, the European Union is currently attempting to enact ACTA – an international treaty that would establish a global standard for intellectual property rights.  The outcomes from these foreign legislations may help the U.S. tailor its own anti-piracy legislation.

We will post our presentation materials later this week.