Reddit co-founder calls out Google, Twitter, Facebook over CISPA

Alexis Ohanian says user privacy under threat

A co-founder of social news site Reddit has publicly urged the heads of Twitter, Google and Facebook to support efforts to defeat a controversial cyber security bill currently under consideration in Congress.

Alexis Ohanian posted a video Wednesday morning detailing his opposition to the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act - better known as CISPA - and his efforts to contact Google boss Larry Page:

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The video is clearly meant to be less than totally serious - it seems unlikely that Ohanian, himself a prominent figure in the tech world, would need to resort to trying to talk his way to Page through Google's public phone number, and there's an amusing moment about 70 seconds in where a Google operator insists that there's "no Larry Page here."

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Ohanian's position, however, is clear. He exhorts viewers to let Page and other important decision-makers know that they view CISPA as a serious threat, via direct contact, social media and petitioning. Although Google, Twitter and Facebook do not officially support CISPA - Facebook had done so, but withdrew its support weeks ago - the Reddit co-founder is hoping that their influence can help block the contentious legislation.

CISPA was originally introduced in November 2011 by Rep. Mike Rodgers, a Republican from Michigan who chairs the House Intelligence Committee. The bill was passed by the House in April 2012, but failed to make it through the Senate. Rodgers re-introduced CISPA in February of this year, despite the Obama administration's apparent willingness to veto it. Although its backers paint CISPA as an important part of a future cyber security framework, opponents say that its statutory invalidation of existing privacy laws gravely undermines the protection that users currently enjoy.

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Reddit has become a hub of opposition to restrictive legislation related to the Internet. The 2011 Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, dominated the site's front page for weeks at a time during a push to block the bill's passage, and Reddit was one of several popular sites that voluntarily shut down to protest SOPA.

Email Jon Gold at and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

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