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What is CISPA, and how is the current version of the bill different than in years past?

In President Obama's 2015 State of the Union address, he urged Congress to "finally pass the legislation we need to better meet the evolving threat of cyberattacks." One bill that's been introduced is the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which would allow technology companies to voluntarily share private subscriber information with law enforcement regarding potential threats to computer networks.

This is actually CISPA's third time being proposed by Congress. The proposed Act dates back to 2011, when it was introduced; the bill passed the House of Representatives in 2012 but not the Senate. CISPA was proposed again in 2013; it again passed the House but then died before it could be voted on in the Senate.

In October, one of our "13 Legal Tech Stories Scarier Than Dracula or Wolfman" was the news that Verizon and AT&T were injecting a unique identifying number into the Internet traffic of subscribers who used Verizon Wireless cell data to surf the Web. This number could be used to tailor advertising to a particular device.

In a terrifying confluence of puns, that story has risen from the dead in the form of "zombie cookies" that can't be killed.

The trial of Ross Ulbricht, the alleged founder of the underground website Silk Road, began in Manhattan on Tuesday.

We can eliminate the "alleged" in front of "founder" because Ulbricht, who had always denied involvement with Silk Road, conceded in court that he did found the website, which trafficked predominantly in illegal drugs. But Ulbricht claimed he abandoned it after a few months.

Boy, the FBI just has an answer for everything, doesn't it? If the FISA court doesn't grant your top-secret warrant for wiretapping (which is unusual because it almost always grants warrants), you just shrug your shoulders and issue a National Security Letter instead.

And if some people insist that your cellphone-deceiving surveillance technology is illegal, you just say you don't need a warrant. Problem solved!

Merry Christmas: NSA Admits to a Whole Lot of Misconduct

On the 12th day of Christmas (well, more like Christmas Eve), the National Security Agency gave to us: 12 years of internal oversight documents outlining a number of instances of misconduct by NSA staff members.

What kind of misconduct? Government officials spying on ex-significant others, for one. Lazy queries that inadvertently scooped up Americans' data, for another. And for anyone who has been following the NSA revelations over the past couple of years, plenty of verification of the agency's alleged abuses.

So, what has Facebook been up to lately? As it turns out, the social media corporation that's desperate to mine your life for ad dollars may have gone a little too far. Last year, Matthew Campbell alleged in a federal class action complaint that Facebook scanned the contents of users' private messages in order to better advertise at them.

Facebook moved to dismiss, but earlier this week, a federal district judge in Oakland, California, denied the motion, allowing the lawsuit to proceed.

Sony Bullying Twitter Over Users' Posting of Hacked Documents

Boies' bluster is still blustery. And it may be having the opposite of the desired effect.

Last week, we told you about the letters noted litigator David Boies has sent on behalf of Sony to numerous media outlets. The letters basically threaten to rain down fire and brimstone upon anyone who reports on or posts information that was stolen in the big hack that has been the story in the news for the past few weeks.

Not content with challenging the freedom of the press, however, Boies has now moved on to a new target: Twitter and its users.

Court Makes Obvious Ruling: Cops Can Use Fake Social Media Accounts

Here's some non-news: Cops use social media to catch criminals. But it's not just criminals broadcasting their misdeeds to the wider world, unimpeded by privacy settings or discretion.

No, cops can and do make fake profiles to stalk criminals without being detected. If a cop walks into a bar, pretends to be a bartender, and overhears a confession, that's not a constitutional violation, is it? That's basically what we have here -- cops posing as somebody else to gather intel.

For a few weeks now, 11,000 gigabytes of information stolen from Sony by as-yet unknown hackers have been floating around the Internet. The eclectic data range from private, racially tinged jokes emailed between producer Scott Rudin and Sony exec Amy Pascal about President Obama's favorite movies, to ideas for ludicrous sequels (like a "21 Jump Street"/"Men in Black" crossover), to whole copies of finished, but unreleased, films.

Well, Sony's pretty sick of hearing about it. To that end, they've decided to hire attorney David Boies to make some legal threats via demand letters.

Earlier this week, Owen Williams of The Next Web found his Apple iCloud account locked. Williams was smart and enabled two-factor authentication on his account after reading the sad story of Wired's Mat Honan, whose Apple and Google accounts were hacked through a social engineering trick in which the attackers got his password reset over the phone.

Williams, unfortunately, couldn't access his iCloud account because he'd forgotten the recovery code. Does this mean we should all dismiss two-factor authentication?