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'Super-DMCA' Fears Suppress Security Research

Steganography and honeypot expert Niels Provos may risk four years in prison by completing his Ph.D. A University of Michigan graduate student noted for his research into steganography and honeypots — techniques for concealing messages and detecting hackers, respectively — says he’s been forced to move his research papers and software offshore and prohibit U.S. residents from accessing it, in response to a controversial new state law that makes it a felony to possess software capable of concealing the existence or source of any electronic communication. “Concealing the existence of communication is my dissertation, and concealing the source of communication takes place in honey nets,” says Niels Provos. “So I decided to be proactive about it and move it to another location, and for now just deny anybody from the states to download any of my software.” At issue are the so-called “Super-DMCA” bills under consideration in seven states, which have already become law in six others. Similar in some ways to the federal Digital Millennium Copyright Act — which made it a crime to distribute software that cracks copy protection schemes — the state measures appear to target those who would steal pay-per-view cable television shows or defraud broadband providers. Though the bills vary in language and scope, they are patterned after model legislation pushed by the Motion Picture Association of America along with the Broadband and Internet Security Taskforce, the latter a consortium of cable companies and premium channels. Full Story

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