Action of the Week: Do You Know Where Your Personal Information Is?

You know those "Terms & Conditions" you agree to every time you sign up for anything online? You read those, don't you? Yeah, that's what I thought. According to a 2011 study from Great Britain, only about 7% of you read the terms and privacy policies of websites and online products before signing up.

This can't come as much of a shock. Web terms of service can easily run thousands of words long. But, what exactly are we agreeing to, and do companies and individuals have any say in what they are required to share with government agencies in certain situations?

That's what raises so many eyebrows about the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protect Act (CISPA). According to the bill's co-sponsor, Congressman Mike Rogers (R-MI), CISPA is intended to help strengthen national security by enabling government agencies to gather personal information from companies in the event of a cyber-attack.

A coalition of non-governmental agencies, including Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Technology & Democracy, aren't convinced. The way CISPA is currently worded, they argue, allows for government agencies to demand private data that you may have shared with a company with little oversight. All they would need to do is drop the words "national security" or "cyber threat," and your name, phone number, email address, home address, and even Social Security number, could be in their hands.

 

 

CISPA was just approved by a House panel on Wednesday, and could hit the House floor as early as next week. If you support the efforts of Electronic Frontier Foundation, the ACLU, and dozens of other organizations, sign the petition to stop CISPA and keep your online privacy secure.

Jonathan Harris is Participant Media’s Director of Digital Social Action. He previously managed online campaigns for the Participant films Waiting For "Superman," The Help and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. See him try to be funny on Twitter @countrycaravan.