September 18, 2020

White House Cybersecurity Czar Urges DMCA Reform

Today’s Boston Globe reports, in an article by Hiawatha Bray, on comments made at a “town meeting” yesterday by Richard Clarke, the head of the White House’s Office of Cybersecurity:

At the town meeting, Clarke responded to a question about the controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The act makes it illegal to publicize the existence of security flaws in computer software, but computer software companies have used the law to threaten legal action against academic researchers who publicize their discoveries of such flaws.

Clarke said such threats were a misuse of the law and that reform is needed. ”I think a lot of people didn’t realize that it would have this potential chilling effect on vulnerability research.”

This is good news for proponents of the recently-introduced Boucher and Lofgren bills, both of which would reform the DMCA. The Boucher bill even includes a specific exemption for scientific research.