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New Microsite from Fight for the Future Raises Alarm Over Cybersecurity Legislation

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, August 1 2012

Fight for the Future has launched a new campaign related to the Senate's Cybersecurity Act of 2012, suggesting that passage of the bill could end up allowing online services to hand over user data to the government, let the government spy on searches, e-mails, chats, photos, social behavior and real-time location and use it as evidence against users.

For Fight For the Future, this campaign grows to a large degree out of concern over measures in the House bill, CISPA, which was passed in April and strongly criticized by privacy advocates.

"The Senate bill seems to fix some of those problems, but amendments being proposed would weaken those privacy protections, and we still don't know how that's going to be reconciled with the House bill," said Holmes Wilson, co-founder of Fight for the Future. The group is especially concerned about provisions that would strengthen liability provisions, making it harder for people to sue online services over their use of online data, and amendments giving the NSA oversight over cybersecurity issues.

"Online privacy issues are pretty hard things to talk about, the harm done usually happens to very specific people," and the sense is "it's not going to happen to me," Wilson said. "One of the things we're trying to get across is that people all over the world have been unjustly prosecuted using information collected from the use of online services."

To that end, the group has launched doyouhaveasecret.org, where it outlines its opposition to the bill through a long, vertically scrolling graphic set to an ominous soundtrack.

In one screen-size cell of the site, equating the U.S.'s stance on online surveillance with the pervasive cybersurveillance of the Chinese government, Fight for the Future asks, "Where will the government draw the line?"

Urging supporters to "protect" their friends and family "from being unfairly prosecuted by the government," the group asks people to contact their senators to vote against anti-privacy amendments to the bill, support a a privacy amendment proposed by Senators Al Franken and Rand Paul, and ultimately vote against the bill as a whole.

According to the Hill, even though the bill has significant support from Senate Democrats and the White House, further movement on it may be blocked by Senate Republicans, who are concerned about new regulations for companies. Other Senators have also been trying to add unrelated amendments to the bill, such as ones concerned with gun control or abortion. In terms of the amendments Fight for the Future is concerned with, Wilson says from what the group has been hearing from Senate staffers about calls and contacts, "we're within reach of tipping the scales on these amendments."