As you read this, tens of thousands of brokers and investors are scraping together every loose penny they can find to get a chunk of Facebook’s initial public offering. But one technology investor won’t be joining them: Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit.com and current NYC-based angel investor. He’s not concerned with bubbles or percentages, just with Facebook’s corporate culture: he objects to the fact that the social networking giant supports the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA.
CISPA is the latest in a long line of surveillance acts that causes a weeping and gnashing of teeth among privacy advocates. The primary concerns about CISPA center around the lack of checks and balances that it gives to US federal agencies’ ability to monitor private citizens’ habits on the Internet and other digital mediums. Ohanian is one of these, and he also spoke out strongly against SOPA, the failed anti-piracy act that many consider a precursor to the current legislation. Speaking with CNN, Ohanian praised Facebook’s accomplishments and creator Mark Zuckerberg’s single-minded drive, but said that he could not invent in the company due to its support of the bill. Notably, a large contingent of Reddit’s actively political population has already mobilized against the bill.
CISPA has passed through the US House of Representatives, and is currently awaiting a vote in the Senate. President Obama has stated that he intends to veto the bill if it passes his desk in its current form, citing a lack of confidentiality and security safeguards. Major lobbying associations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the ACLU have taken issue with its overly broad definition of “Cybercrime”, and the means with which it may be monitored. Other major proponents include the CTIA, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the US Chamber of Commerce, Microsoft, AT&T, Verizon, IBM, Intel, and Oracle.
photo by Anirudh Koul