- 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
- 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.