July 16, 2024

Use a Firewall, Go to Jail

The states of Massachusetts and Texas are preparing to consider bills that apparently are intended to extend the national Digital Millennium Copyright Act. (TX bill; MA bill) The bills are obviously related to each other somehow, since they are textually similar.

Here is one example of the far-reaching harmful effects of these bills. 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.

And this is just one example of the problems with these bills. Yikes.

UPDATE (6:35 PM): It’s worse than I thought. Similar bills are on the table in South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Alaska, Tennessee, and Colorado.

UPDATE (March 28, 9:00 AM): Clarified the paragraph above about encrypted email, to eliminate an ambiguity.

UPDATE: I now have a page with information about all of these bills, including the current status in each state.


  1. Idiocy

    I am amazed each day by the idicoy of lawmakers who do not understand the internet or computers. A recent bill is being considered by Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Deleware, Florida, Gerogia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Oregon, Pennsylva…

  2. Bad Legislation

    A friend of mine alerted me to some horrible legislation working its way through numerous statehouses: The states of Massachusetts

  3. I thought security was a good thing

    Apparently not, according to bills being proposed in Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Massachussetts, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. In an

  4. More DMCA Sillyness

    I’ve been hesitant about posting this, but it seems like these laws could be abused. I’m still not convinced they

  5. Windows becomes illegal!

    The DCMA (Digital Copyright Millennium Act) is a nasty little piece of legislation for many reasons; here’s yet another (thanks…

  6. We’re losing our rights

    Sometimes I wonder why there’s so much bad news around. It almost seems that everywhere I look, a law is being made that makes you question if the lawmakers actually…

  7. Be Afraid, Be VERY Afraid

    Normally my frustration with US politics falls upon the Federal Government and very rarely beyond there. I admit there have been some exceptions (like California) but most of the time its the Federal Government making stupid laws (like the DMCA)

  8. nat, vpn == illegal?

    when’d this happen and how’d it pass? Freedom to Tinker: Super-DMCA Already Passed in Michigan last week this</a article was…

  9. impersonation enable=

    impersonation enable=

  10. impersonation enable=

    impersonation enable=

  11. Super-DMCA campaign launched

    Ed Felten reported on his blog, Freedom to Tinker, two days ago that Texas and Massachusetts are both considering legislation

  12. News laws to criminalize firewall technology

    New laws on the book in several states, including GA (surprise!), would make network address translation (NAT) illegal! Seems like a new salvo in the DMCA battle to prevent connection sharing. The sinister part is that these bills are…

  13. Super-DMCA Already Passed in Michigan

    Alert reader Larry Blunk reports that the state of Michigan has already passed a set of super-DMCA laws. They will take effect on March 31. Here is the text of the three new laws: 1, 2, 3. The ban on…

  14. Only Criminals Need NAT

    Firewalls set to become illegal in many American states – including Florida, naturally. According to Prof. Felten at Freedom to…

  15. Clubbing The Human Spirit To Death With Credit Cards: Act II Scene Three.

    For some reason I am dog-fucking-tired and declined a free meal so I could sit all saggy and deflated typing

  16. Çàïðåò íà ôàéðâîëëû

    Àìåðèêàíöû âñòðåâîæåíû – øòàòû Òåõàñ è Ìàññà÷óñåòòñ (à â áëèæàéøåå âðåìÿ ê íèì ïðèñîåäèíÿòñÿ 6 øòàòîâ, ñðåäè êîòîðûõ Êîëîðàäî è

  17. Çàïðåò íà ôàéðâîëëû

    Àìåðèêàíöû âñòðåâîæåíû – øòàòû Òåõàñ è Ìàññà÷óñåòòñ (à â áëèæàéøåå âðåìÿ ê íèì ïðèñîåäèíÿòñÿ 6 øòàòîâ, ñðåäè êîòîðûõ Êîëîðàäî è

  18. Firewall/NAT Illegal?

    Freedom-to-Tinker has more info… link via [H]ardOCP….

  19. *Groan*

    [EDIT: also covered here] According to this article on Freedom to Tinker, there are several bills in several states that…

  20. State Mini-DMCAs

    As if the DMCA itself wasn’t bad enough, it appears numerous states are set yo consider state-level technology-restricting acts, which

  21. Practically any Internet use will be illegal…

    Prof. Ed Felten (and Freedom to Tinker) has posted that several states, including South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Alaska, Tennessee, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Texas, are considering bills to “ban the possession, sale, or use of technologies that ‘…

  22. Network firewall? Go to jail

    That’s the idea behind the legislation Ed Felten’s greatFreedom to Tinker discusses here. DM, before you go making Jawja jokes, be aware that Jeb Bushy’s Florida is involved, too, along with 6 other states. Uh, hello? Is anybody home?

  23. DMCA for the State?

    Over at BoingBoing I found a link to this. Evidently the states want to get in on the DMCA action.

  24. MPAA Lobbying for State Super-DMCA Bills

    The MPAA has reportedly been lobbying in favor of the overreaching state super-DMCA bills I discussed yesterday. Apparently, the MPAA has been circulating this one-pager in support of the bills. The one-pager refers to “proposed model state legislation…

  25. No Expectation of Privacy Here

    According to Ed Felton, Use a Firewall, Go to Jail (freedom-to-tinker.com). At least in Massachusetts and Texas if their law