|SUBJECT ||Subject: [hangout] Firewalls set to become illegal in many American states DMCA
Firewalls set to become illegal in many American states
Legislation by the ignorant
By Arron Rouse: Friday 28 March 2003, 13:21
AN INTERESTING PIECE of news has surfaced that will have sys admins fainting
in disbelief. Eight states have put forward bills that would have a
devastating effect on network security and even networks themselves if they
come to pass. The wording in the bills is dumb enough that firewalls could
The news about the bills was brought to our attention by Edward Felten, more
famous for having a go at a different Bill. The states in question are Texas,
Massachusetts, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Alaska, Tennessee and
Colorado. The proposed legislation is intended to extend the much loathed
Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
Felten is definitely used to legal issues, having presented evidence against
Microsoft in the antitrust trial. According to his news article on Freedom to
Tinker, the various states bills all require the banning the use of any
technology that conceals "the existence or place of origin or destination of
any communication." It doesn't take much to think that firewalls, routers,
network address translators and many other pieces of standard kit all do
exactly that. Unless the bills are radically changed, the Internet could
effectively become useless in those states.
The wording in the bills is almost certain to change once the correct pressure
is applied but it just goes to show what happens when you leave legislators
to their own devices. You can find Felten's full article here. It includes
links to the text of three different states' proposed legislation. µ
March 26, 2003
Use a Firewall, Go to Jail
The states of Massachusetts and Texas are preparing to consider bills that
apparently are intended to extend the national Digital Millennium Copyright
Act. (TX bill; MA bill) The bills are obviously related to each other
somehow, since they are textually similar.
Here is one example of the far-reaching harmful effects of these bills. Both
bills would flatly ban the possession, sale, or use of technologies that
"conceal from a communication service provider ... the existence or place of
origin or destination of any communication". Your ISP is a communication
service provider, so anything that concealed the origin or destination of any
communication from your ISP would be illegal -- with no exceptions.
If you send or receive your email via an encrypted connection, you're in
violation, because the "To" and "From" lines of the emails are concealed from
your ISP by encryption. (The encryption conceals the destinations of outgoing
messages, and the sources of incoming messages.)
Worse yet, Network Address Translation (NAT), a technology widely used for
enterprise security, operates by translating the "from" and "to" fields of
Internet packets, thereby concealing the source or destination of each
packet, and hence violating these bills. Most security "firewalls" use NAT,
so if you use a firewall, you're in violation.
If you have a home DSL router, or if you use the "Internet Connection Sharing"
feature of your favorite operating system product, you're in violation
because these connection sharing technologies use NAT. Most operating system
products (including every version of Windows introduced in the last five
years, and virtually all versions of Linux) would also apparently be banned,
because they support connection sharing via NAT.
And this is just one example of the problems with these bills. Yikes.
UPDATE (6:35 PM): It's worse than I thought. Similar bills are on the table
in South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Alaska, Tennessee, and Colorado.
UPDATE (March 28, 9:00 AM): Clarified the paragraph above about encrypted
email, to eliminate an ambiguity.
Topic(s): Security , Super-DMCA , Technology and Freedom
Posted by Edward W. Felten at 01:04 PM | permanent link | Followups (24)
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