Firewalls set to be the next casualty in the name of the DMCA

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 states in question are Texas, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Alaska, Tennessee and Colorado. According to a news article by Edward W. Felten on Freedom to Tinker, “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.”

See, legislators just can’t be left alone for a minute. You turn your back on them, and poof, they go all stupid about the place.

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