It’s been a busy few weeks, which probably explains my scarce journalling. Today, though, I have to climb back on my soapbox and shout about the idiotic legislators in Colorado and eight other states who are proposing new laws that will actually make it illegal to operate a network firewall or, in fact, most technologies used to connect to the internet.
The law is intended to combat cell phone “cloning” and network “hacking”, but the language is so broad that it would include network address translation (NAT) technology that’s the basis of all firewalls, cable modems, and even home networks. Anything that “conceals the source” of a network transmission would be a crime.
I can’t seriously believe that firewalls will become illegal. They’re a generally-accepted security measure used by hundreds, of not thousands, of corporations in the state.
Under the legislation, cable modems would also be illegal because they perform NAT by giving you a (usually) 10.x.x.x address on the LAN and a routable IP on the external interface.
Finally, even using Windows’ Internet Connection Sharing would be illegal, since it too uses NAT. That would affect dial-up users as well as the DSL, cable-modem, and T1 crowds.
So basically, it could affect nearly everyone in the state who gets on the internet. How could you possibly enforce such a law? There would be an amazing outrage if the cops started shutting down ISPs, companies, and (heaven forbid) home users for these violations.
I suspect one of two things will happen: (1) the legislators will come to their senses and either rewrite the bill, or kill it; (2) if it passes, it will be unenforceable for the reasons I’ve mentioned. Either way, I don’t see much reason to worry that my livelihood is in danger.
All the same, it’s staggering to think about how these new laws continue to erode our freedoms and– in this case– do so in a way that’s not well-considered and will have implications far beyond their intent. Give me a break.