Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Breaking News: What CISPA Means for Your Business

Remember SOPA and PIPA?  Well, they were vetoed a few months back, so now they’re no longer a concern.  However, the “Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), has passed in the House of Representatives and will be taken up by the Senate in May,” according to an article from Inc.  Why should this concern you?  Well, if passed, CISPA would allow businesses and the government to share information so they could collectively “combat, investigate, and prosecute cyber attacks; protect people from threats of death or injury; and protect minors from harm and protect national security.”

This sounds like a great idea, but here’s the problem:  businesses would become immune to Internet privacy laws.  This means that they can simply “hand over such data, effectively opening a backdoor through which the government can profile Internet users.”

With all the things that we can and do use the Internet for, the privacy we maintain over a digital environment is perhaps just as valuable as the privacy we have while away from our computers.  In other words, there’s a reason why our front doors have locks, and our computers, emails, social media accounts, and more, have passwords.  If we weren’t using our houses and computers to store valuable material and information, we probably wouldn’t care.  However, this is not the case.  Similarly, browsing in a store is no different than browsing on the Internet; each allows you to buy something, and therefore, display your credit or debit card information.  The only difference is that an in-store purchase can also be paid with either cash or check.

If you own a small business, then you owe it to your customers to do whatever it takes to make sure that their information stays private.  However, should any information be obtained without your knowledge or consent, you must alert your customers immediately.  Perhaps suggest that they cancel their credit cards and/or change their pin codes.  You can never be too careful when it comes to private information.