Apparently, several states are going stark staring mad.
Freedom to Tinker: 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. [...] 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.
Such synchronicity argues that someone somewhere is making a coordinated effort. (Jane Galt argues that it's the RIAA, which makes a certain amount of sense.) It also argues that they haven't got a clue what they're doing -- or rather, that they're so incredibly single-minded that they're not really thinking very clearly about the subject. I would wager that every single one of those states has a network behind a firewall for official business. Windows XP ships with both connection sharing and a low-level firewall. No corporation or anyone with the least bit of information to protect will allow these laws to pass in their current state.
A prediction: the states that have already passed some form of UCITA will also band together and pass this ill-advised law. UCITA also allows software manufacturers to "reach" into your computer without notice to disable your software if they feel that the license has been violated. If you have a firewall installed, how on earth are they to do that?Posted by iain at March 31, 2003 11:09 AM