First there was the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Then came the Protect IP Act (PIPA) and Bill C-11. Now, the latest potential threat to online privacy is Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), a nebulous, poorly understood bill whose purpose is to “provide for the sharing of certain cyber threat intelligence and cyber threat information between the intelligence community and cybersecurity entities, and for other purposes.”

In essence, the bill would require companies to share information with the government, but not require them to remove personally identifying information. Instead of simply telling the government how many people were watching Debbie Does Davos on Tuesday, for instance, your ISP could tell the government exactly who was watching Debbie.

Naturally, this does not go down well with Anonymous, the anarchistic hacktivist collective who has been instrumental in fighting the aforementioned bills.

Anonymous has declared war on CISPA, tweeting under the hashtags #stopCISPA, #OurWeb,  and #OpDefense. They mean business, too, reportedly taking down trade association sites USTelecom.org and TechAmerica.org for 24 hours, uploading video proof to YouTube, and calling for boycotts of all companies who are on record as supporting the bill. True to form, Anonymous also uploaded a manifesto to Pastebin:

This bill is another SOPA or ACTA, it goes against everything we stand for.

They still haven't learned what human willpower is capable of, they still haven't learned that together we are strong, and they still haven't learned that they cannot destroy and idea as easily as they can destroy our basic rights. Its time to act now, this is our final stand, they have seen what we have done to them before, and we will do it again, with more force than ever. Anonymous will not let CISPA pass.

facebook, AT&T, oracle, boeing, microsoft, symantec, verizon, intel, IBM, are the main big companies currently supporting CISPA. expect us!

operation final stand, engaged.
operation defense, engaged.
operation facebook boycott, engaged.
stop CISPA, engaged.

The campaign is starting to build momentum, outside the realm of Anonymous.

Nearly 600,000 people have signed the Avaaz petition against CISPA, with a stated goal of 750,000. Mentions of the “StopCISPA” hashtag have gone from zero on March 31 to over 5,000 in a week. GNU-Darwin has collected a list of all the companies on record as supporting the bill and urged followers to boycott them. 

If Anonymous is to be believed, that’s only the beginning.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Google is opposed to CISPA. The source for that information has since rescinded the claim. Google has unofficially acknowledged it lobbied on CISPA's behalf.

Photo via postsoftware.org