Media Fails to Inform Public About Anti-Privacy CISPA Bill

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives — despite opposition from both Democrats and Republicans — passed the the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA),  which would expand the government’s ability to spy on you without a warrant and shield technology companies from lawsuits when they participate in this spying.

CISPA’s path to passage has been much smoother than the similar Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), at least partly because the bill was crafted in a way to avoid opposition from massive tech giants like Google and Facebook, which mobilized against SOPA.

As the bill heads to the Senate, many Americans don’t even know about this new attack on our civil liberties. This is because the major news media has failed to cover the bill at all. We ran a media search going back to March 22nd, and found only a handful of news mentions on the topic — and no mention at all from CBS, ABC, PBS, CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News.

The networks that did cover the bill were local news networks, which featured segments critical of the legislation. Watch one segment here from Fox 19 in Kentucky:
 

CSPAN covered the issue twice over the past month, once while featuring an advocate for the bill. RT, the english language news station funded by the Russian government, also aired several segments critical of the bill.

So why is it that the major news media has failed to talk about the bill? Certainly while the bill was being passed in the House last week, there were other major news items that could’ve crowded it out — from attacks in Boston to the massive fertilizer plant disaster in West, Texas. But the bill has been in play in Congress for months.

Another possible explanation is that the companies pushing the bill are the same ones that own the major television networks. Comcast, which owns MSNBC, is a supporter. So is Time Warner, which owns CNN.

As the bill heads to the Senate, President Obama has issued a veto threat, but with a media blackout and corporate support behind the legislation, it is unlikely to be stopped without public activism.

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