Why the Gaming World Should Band Together Against CISPA

2 min

If you are somehow unaware of what is going down in the United States recently, the House of Representatives, one of branches of government that helps to control policy and laws, has voted on a bill called CISPA. The bill will now be passed along to another branch of the government, the Senate, to vote on its future. CISPA is short for Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act and was devised as a way to give the United States government more power over the internet under the guise of helping to prevent and investigate cyber threats with less red tape. Essentially, the United States government is unhappy with having to follow its own rules when it comes to investigating cyber crimes and are looking for a way to gain more power on the internet.

In theory, it is just another way that the American government is looking to protect its citizens and industry, because as the internet becomes more and more prominent in modern life, so will crime on the internet. The reality here is that the internet is one of the few “open” and truly “free” areas on the planet Earth right now, where users have access to any and all information that they could ever want or need in a relatively democratic and government-free zone.

Recently, the International Game Developers Association sent an open letter out condemning the bill for its use of vague language and lack of safeguards for the average American citizen and their privacy in regards to this bill. This has gone relatively under the radar, surprisingly, as the gaming world continues to march on with new releases, new announcements and its own microcosm of scandals and drama. Gaming is, afterall, a global entertainment medium with developers and publishers all around the world, not just in the United States.

But that doesn’t mean that others shouldn’t protest this bill. At its heart, it means well, but the language involved in this bill is incredibly vague and could be easily twisted and distorted in favor of private companies and the government invading the average person’s privacy as long as a good lawyer is employed. This is the real heart of the problem right here, and will only become more apparent when you consider how much of your gaming life is spent on the internet now.

Most console and PC owners use the internet to access different features, such as online stores, playing games online or simply to play a game due to DRMs. While Microsoft’s next Xbox may or may not have to be always online, that issue just highlights how much of the internet gamers will be using over the coming years, all through Microsoft’s Xbox Live platform. So how, exactly, would this bill really affect someone playing on Xbox Live? The language of this bill is aimed towards “threats,” as it looks to prevent any sort of threat that originates from the internet.

Stuff like voice chats, messages, profiles and everything in between could be seen as a potential threat. It doesn’t matter if you are blowing off steam after a rough day at the office or if you just have a bit of a morbid sense of humor, these actions could be seen as a threat if seen in a certain light. From there you could easily expect your privacy to be waived, which seems to be flying in the face of the term “freedom” in quite a few different ways. I could come up with situations all day, but the general idea is the same; the wording of this bill is simply too vague and could apply to a number of different situations, compromising the privacy of users and only hurting the gaming industry as a whole.

Gaming is only going to be intertwined more and more with the internet as technology increases, which means that privacy concerns should be on all of our minds moving forward. The last thing that any of us want are the games that we love turning into government spies.

There are a few places where you can petition your local government officials here in the US; http://www.cispaisback.org/ and http://www.cispapetition.org/ are a good start, or take to Facebook and Twitter.

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