Firewalls Could Become
Illegal In Many US States
Legislation By The Ignorant...
By Arron Rouse

An interesting piece of news has surfaced that will have system administrators 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 become illegal.
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 at the link below. It includes links to the text of three different states' proposed legislation.



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