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Only Criminals Need NAT

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Firewalls set to become illegal in many American states – including Florida, naturally.

According to Prof. Felten at Freedom to Tinker, soon the simple act of buying a router to hook up your family PC’s to the Internet could land your butt in jail. Legislation has been introduced in Texas, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Alaska, Tennessee and Colorado that makes it illegal (to paraphrase the Texas bill) for anyone who “manufactures, assembles, imports, exports, distributes, advertises, sells, or leases, or offers for sale or lease a communication device or plans or instructions for assembling or manufacturing a communication device or unauthorized access device, with the knowledge that another person intends to use the plans or instructions for an unlawful purpose, to obtain or use a communication service without obtaining the authorization of the provider or making a payment to the provider in the amount normally charged by the provider for the service; or conceals from a communication service provider, or from any lawful authority, the existence or place of origin or destination of any communication.”

So, unless you read the fine print of your ISP’s Terms of Service carefully (and constantly, since it can change without notice), you could be criminally prosecuted for:

  • Sharing a connection to the Internet with your kids
  • Moving your cable TV or modem connection to a different room
  • Putting up a firewall to “conceal” communications from the outside world

In fact, technically, this outlaws Windows XP because it has firewall software built-in. It is even conceivable that you may be prosecuted for setting up a wireless access point on your home LAN, paying the cable company for the extra connections, but not sufficiently securing access from war drivers. In fact, that link I just made to the war driving kit – which is intended to be used to help find and plug security leaks *cough* – makes me a crook.

It doesn’t matter that the proposals say things like “with an intent to harm or defraud a communication service provider.” Lawyers can make it look like you intended to funnel your life savings directly to Osama bin Laden when you downloaded that Britney Spears MP3.

I don’t mean to get hysterical. These are still just draft bills. There is still a good chance that the manufacturers of these devices (Linksys?) will put up a stink. but it disturbs me that almost identical legislation seems to be popping up in several states at once. What nefarious no-brain is behind this?

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  • Perry Perdis

    What nefarious no brain is behind this?
    What about the attorney general. He seems ready to crush all civil liberties in the name of “security”.Mr. Ashcroft seems intent on making this country a dictatorship.
    Lets add all the cable modem isp’s to the list as well. It would not suprise me a bit to find Time-Worthless (AOL Time-Warner)involved somewhere in this. Multiple connections through a router or hub? We need to charge you for that,after all,you should have a cable modem for each computer so we can charge you even more for equipment rentals.