Hacktivists Call For Internet Blackout Today To Protest CISPA
April 22, 2013

Anonymous Wants A Dark Internet To Protest CISPA

Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

The group of hackers which acts as part troublemaker and part watchdog is calling for an Internet blackout today to protest CISPA, a bill which passed last Thursday. If this bill is signed into law, companies and websites could legally hand over user information to the US government upon request. Anonymous has persuaded over 300 websites to “go dark” as a sign of protest today and is using the #CISPABlackout hashtag on social networks to draw attention to their cause. True to their form, Anonymous has written their own manifesto and put together a montage to explain their stance.

“Greetings United States gov, We are the Internet,” reads the beginning to the Anonymous protest letter posted on one of their websites.

“Again, you are trying to pass this ridiculous CISPA law in order to control and censor the people. This will not stand. You already control the media, the economy, the criminal underworld, your national plots and our energy. YOU WILL NOT GET OUR INTERNET!”

There are over 300 websites which have committed to go dark today in protest. This means sites like imusicplayer.com and run2help.org will replace their content with a message asking visitors to call their Senators, sign a petition and learn more about CISPA. Anonymous also claims several other popular Facebook and Twitter feeds have promised to go silent today.

A similar protest was carried out early last year as other Internet privacy bills SOPA and PIPA went to Congress. Internet heavy hitters such as Google and Wikipedia joined the 2012 protest, replacing some of their content with a plea for action from their users. So far today´s protest looks as if it will be much smaller and contained within Anonymous´ inner circle of hacktivist groups and other outspoken opponents to Internet regulation.

CISPA passed a House vote on Thursday with 288 for and 127 against. If passed into law, this bill could make the flow of information between corporations and the US government even easier. Also known as the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, this bill is meant to help the US government and military ward off looming cyberattacks from foreign nations. Those who oppose the bill have criticized its broad language which could give the US government the right to access user data over “any other provision of law,” reports the Huffington Post.

"Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a self-protected entity may, for cybersecurity purposes ... share such cyber threat information with any other entity, including the Federal Government,” reads one particularly troubling section of the bill. Even those companies which have vowed to their users to never share their information will be able to give the US government access to this data and remain immune to any lawsuits.

There is a large opposition to this bill as represented by the more than 100,000 signatures to an online petition to the White House as well as more than 300,000 signatures to an online petition to the House Intelligence Committee. What separates this opposition from last year´s SOPA and PIPA protests, however, is the lack of corporate support. Companies like AT&T and Intel have said they approve of this bill. Facebook once supported this bill, but later withdrew after facing pressure from privacy advocacy groups. Google has taken no public position on this bill.

Just as this bill was moving to the Senate, an amendment was tacked on which would allow US employers to ask their employees for their Facebook and Twitter passwords.