The DMCA chokehold tightens
April 15, 2003 7:38 PM   Subscribe

SecurityFocus is talking about Niels Provos, a graduate student well known for his work in steganography and for creating the honeyd program, having to move his research for his PhD from his U of Michigan homepage to a server in the Netherlands and keep U.S. citizens from viewing the information. Why? Because the state of Michigan passed their version of DMCA. I can see the routers and firewall software piling up in the trash.
posted by memnock (10 comments total)
Critics say it would also ban firewalls and NAT boxes

Hmm, time to hide my server apparently.
posted by piper28 at 10:37 PM on April 15, 2003

Well, as a Michigan resident and owner of both a NAT box and a Firewall, I am prepared to do the legal shuffle necessary to keep myself out of jail.

The corporate supermen pumping legislators with their "need to protect their property" and such have gone too far. How far will this go before sanity is restored?

posted by phylum sinter at 10:58 PM on April 15, 2003

An aside: why is it that computer science majors always seem to have such ugly home pages? The ones I'm familiar with all seem to do good work, and have good skills and credentials, but their little summary homepages inevitably looks like crap.

I mean, you're a computer science major! You'd think they'd take the half an hour required to put together a decent looking page.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 3:08 AM on April 16, 2003

Generally computer science majors are too busy actually studying computer science and programming to worry about multimedia crap.

That stuff is for degreeless webgeeks, Yelling, not real programmers interested in facts, numbers, performance, and actual achievement. If I seem a tad hostile, it's because I was a comp sci. major who dropped out to become a pathetic webgeek.

In any case, I'm a fan of Mr. Provos' work - and what he does is really and truly important for the underappreciated world of administration with a mind for real, solid non-MS-fluff security. It was a great tragedy when he and Theo parted company in the OpenBSD project, and it will be a greater tragedy to the Internet at large if his work is hindered in any way. Provos is one of the greats you don't hear about who works on holding up that security dyke every goddamned day for the rest of us, and slaps in the face like this by ignorant buffoons like the Michigan legislature would be a capital crime in a perfect world.
posted by Ryvar at 4:00 AM on April 16, 2003

On further reflection, I may have woken up on the wrong side of bed this morning.

However, in an attempt to explicate, and extrictate, myself - it is criminal that the Michigan legislature dared to make a ruling which will negative affect the lives and, yes, real - not Homeland - security and personal safety of millions of people under their jurisdiction on a topic which they clearly do not understand in the very least.
posted by Ryvar at 4:08 AM on April 16, 2003

Does this make Windows illegal? I mean every version of Windows since WinME has shipped with Internet Connection Sharing, which is NAT software, and by a fairly strict reading of this law, that is certainally against the law.

Mind you Mac OS X has similar features, and every distribution of Linux ships with packages for NAT. So that makes operating a computer with any modern operating system illegal.

Don't legislative organisation have technical advisors for this sort of thing - to say, "hey guys, this legislation actually catches pretty much everything, it's just a little too wide ranging."

Oh well, maybe I will stop getting spam for Norton Internet Security now? That would of course be illegal, as it is against the law to "offer to deliver, or advertise" any software that conceals "the existence or place of origin or destination of any telecommunications service."

Silver Lining: More tools for catching spammers in loopholes.
posted by sycophant at 4:43 AM on April 16, 2003

No, sycophant, it's only illegal when individuals do it.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:54 AM on April 16, 2003

Specifically, it gives your ISP every freedom to scan your network for NATs (I am only aware of one firewall, OpenBSD's PF [packetfilter], being capable of NAT-scan-proofing as of this time), and then lockout your account. In theory because it is 'illegal', in reality because they want to charge you more for a business connection if you want to run a firewall or have two computers share the same IP.

Of course if one has or can purchase multiple IPs for a consumer account, well-configured bridged firewalls are probably immune to prosecution by this legislation without actual search and seizure by authorities - so if I were living in Michigan, and smart, that's what I'd do.

I may be wrong here, but doesn't posting the above information constitute a violation of the DMCA (this is what, my thirteenth violation since I woke up at 4AM with a stomach bug this morning)?

Let's close with proof positive of my renewed patriotism and faith in this country: America, America, God shed His grace on thee . . . and crowned thy good with passports to Canada, where they could truly be free . . .
posted by Ryvar at 5:52 AM on April 16, 2003

a controversial new state law that makes it a felony to possess software capable of concealing the existence or source of any electronic communication.

so all those spamgen programs that fake the header data are illegal now, huh?

geez, who'da thunk that the major threats to us citizens liberty would originate in the entertainment industry?

and how many of you mesmerized sheep are still going out to buy CD's or DVD's or a ticket to the multiscreen theatre today? ah, ha. i thought so...
posted by quonsar at 7:21 AM on April 16, 2003

quonsar, I haven't purchased a CD in years. I always had a hard time believing the media i bought should cost $16-18 USD... so I stopped buying it. I haven't purchased a music cd since about 1999, when I got my first parallel port 1x CDR burner.

Oh, I take that back. I found a band that I liked (CKY) so I figured, hey, they need new cars too- and I bought one of their CDs. It was a perfect purchase, worth every penny of the 19 dollars I paid (I live in a backwater town in the SE US, so CD prices get a little more jacked). But part of the reasoning behind my perfect purchase was that I heard their MP3s online, and knew what I was seeking out.

And fsck the movies. I haven't seen anything that entices me to go to the theater in a year or two. American cinema sucks. If it isn't an all-out action film with physics-defying throws, it's an attempt at an intellectual film that somehow between paper and the storyboard gets mangled (Read: AI).

Greed has always been Hollywood's motive. You can tell they ran out of ideas a few years ago. Just look at how they're so ready to bastardize classic films for a new chunk of profit. 3rd installments to films that never even should have had a second...

posted by shadow45 at 10:38 AM on April 16, 2003

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