Anonymous calls for Internet blackout to protest CISPA

The planned blackout is similar to a widespread campaign last year to protest SOPA but appeared to have far less traction

Hacking group Anonymous asked websites to black out their front pages on Monday, in protest against legislation in the U.S. that would allow online companies and government agencies to more easily share personal information.

The protest against the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), meant to start from 6 a.m. GMT, appeared to have little traction early. Anonymous-related accounts called for action on Twitter using the hashtag "#CISPABlackout" and a spattering of minor sites blocked access, including the popular "Funny" category on Reddit.

CISPA is meant to encourage better sharing of information during active cyberattacks. It allows U.S. intelligence agencies to share classified data on cyberthreats with private firms, something that is currently prohibited. It also protects firms that voluntary share cyberthreat information with other firms or the government from privacy lawsuits by users.

Critics say it would allow private companies to share a broad range of customer data with each other and the government. Privacy advocates have also pointed out that it doesn't require such companies to scrub unnecessary customer information from what is shared. The bill was approved last week in the U.S. House of Representatives, though it must still be passed by the Senate, and advisors to President Barack Obama have promised a veto.

"It's the online equivalent of allowing a police officer to enter your home and start rummaging through your personal files without the permission of a court," the message from Anonymous said.

CISPA has been linked to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a bill introduced to combat copyright violations in January 2012. Major websites including Reddit and the English version of Wikipedia stopped services to protest SOPA, with many others voicing their opposition, and it was eventually abandoned.

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Jay Alabaster

IDG News Service
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