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[ NNSquad ] Alert! - Internet Monitoring May Be Authorized by Stimulus Amendment - Today!

 Alert! - Internet Monitoring May Be Authorized by Stimulus Amendment - Today!


Greetings.  We've all heard about nasty items being sneaked into the
federal economic stimulus package, now in final negotiations between
the House and Senate.  What you probably haven't heard is that Senator
Feinstein of here in California (who usually has good ideas, but
occasionally brings forth legislative aberrations) has apparently
tried to slip a provision into the legislation that could open to the
door to widespread monitoring of Internet traffic by ISPs.

The amendment, seemingly offered without any public debate, would
require that the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (that is,
the broadband stimulus portion of the overall stimulus legislation)
permit "reasonable network management practices such as deterring
unlawful activity, including [c-porn] and copyright infringement."
( http://lauren.vortex.com/internet-monitoring.pdf )

The possibility exists that this amendment will find its way into the
final wording of the stimulus package being worked on by the
House/Senate conference committee, which could be finalized by the end
of *today*.

You'll note that the term "monitoring" is not included in the very
short wording of the amendment.  But the term "network management" is
a can of worms.  If the amendment's sponsors had only wanted to assure
that existing mechanisms for DMCA (and other) "take down" notices
would be protected, they could have said this explicitly.

But content-related "network management" implies active inspection
(e.g. DPI - Deep Packet Inspection") of actual Internet traffic at the
IP level, then the reporting to authorities of, and/or blocking of,
associated "offending" data traffic.

It was to be expected that c-porn would be the hook used as the first
item to try justify Internet monitoring.  But by then moving to
copyright infringement and any other "unlawful activity," the camel's
nose has come explicitly much farther under the tent toward the
possibility of pervasive Internet monitoring.

Of course, we know that any such monitoring would likely find itself
deeply embroiled in court battles, and readily available encryption
foils such techniques as a matter of course.

But this amendment, as worded, appears to set a very dangerous
precedent.  Again, if its sponsors didn't intend to potentially open a
Pandora's Box of Internet monitoring, the term "network management"
shouldn't have been used in this manner.

As other observers have also alerted, this amendment should
immediately be withdrawn from any consideration, and defeated in its
current form ( http://www.publicknowledge.org/node/1987 ).

Lauren Weinstein
lauren@vortex.com or lauren@pfir.org 
Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800
Co-Founder, PFIR
   - People For Internet Responsibility - http://www.pfir.org 
Co-Founder, NNSquad 
   - Network Neutrality Squad - http://www.nnsquad.org
Founder, PRIVACY Forum - http://www.vortex.com 
Member, ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy
Lauren's Blog: http://lauren.vortex.com