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Congress Plans DMCA Sequel: The SSSCA 935

Declan McCullagh writes: "If you thought the DMCA was a nightmare, wait 'til you find out what Congress is planning this fall. The sequel is called the "Security Systems Standards and Certification Act," and it requires PCs and consumer electronic devices to support "certified security technologies" to be approved by the Commerce Department. Backers of the SSSCA include Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.), who heads the powerful Senate Commerce committee, and, reportedly, Disney. Wired News has a report, and I've placed the SSSCA draft text (new! more criminal penalties!) online here. D'ya think that maybe Congress doesn't like OSS very much?" This is only a draft, not even introduced as a bill yet, but it sends chills down my spine - this is the big one. If passed, it would require all personal computers to have digital rights management built in, under penalty of law.
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Congress Plans DMCA Sequel: The SSSCA

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  • by ortholattice ( 175065 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @11:22AM (#2267342)
    Canadians are reminded that September 15 is the deadline for comments on the DCMA-equivalent law [] proposed for Canada. That is, if they are even aware of it: the request for comments went up September 7, allowing a generous :( one-week window for comments from the public.
  • by openbear ( 231388 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @11:40AM (#2267415)
    Your letter is a bit draconian, but writing your government official is a very good idea. Check out this EFF page to find out who to write to. [] We can't just sit buy and let another DCMA type nightmare pass. Be VOCAL!
  • by ReelOddeeo ( 115880 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @11:45AM (#2267445)
    I thought that in one of the MS trials, the judge had rejected the Govt's case on the basis of the Govt shouldn't be in the business of designing software.

    Now it sounds like the Govt wants to create security standards, and all software must be certified to meet this standard.
  • Here is a draft of what I'll be submitting to them:

    Regarding copy control technologies

    The current state of the law provides for a civil relationship between the parties of a transaction involving copyrighted material. [...]

    The content-providing industry is but a small part of the Economy in general; as time went, computers have become pratically indispensable to the conduct of other economic activity. However, we're witnessing unprecedented efforts from the content industry trying to take over the computer industry by imposing it's conditions to the use of computer equipment: first, they tried to introduce into storage equipment specifications functions designed to control whether what the device does is legitimate, and right now, a bill of law is being studied in the USA which would make such control devices compulsory.

    Letting the content industry dictate it's terms of use regarding computer equipment not only to flagrantly violate their customer's fair use rights, but also to dictate to the whole of society the way it should use it's own computers is a gross subvertion, which should imperatively be rejected with the utmost energy, as it would give a minuscule sector of the economy a totally unwarranted and unmerited influence on the circulation of data, ideas and concepts.

    Canada shall therefore not legiferate in any way whatsoever against the use of software and/or devices which would allow data users to exert their legal fair use rights. Acting otherwise would surrender totally the freedom of circulation of ideas, a fundamental concept of our society.

  • by dmunsinger ( 519945 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @12:37PM (#2267715)

    for representatives m

    for your senators's addresses.

    Fritz Hollings



    and Ted Stevens


    Like throwing potatoes at attacking aircraft (that actually happened at Pearl Harbor) but (1) at least you have done something and (2) enough potatoes truly screws up a jet engine...


  • by T-Lex ( 519231 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @01:02PM (#2267856)
  • by jchristopher ( 198929 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @01:08PM (#2267885)
    I just now sent that to Bush and Cheney, Diane Feinstein (one of the strongest supporters of the DMCA I'm told), Barbara Boxer, and Stephen Horn.

    I live in California, and I voted for the Boxer/Feinstein combo. I will not again. They both voted for DMCA and I will vote for ANYONE before them.

  • by MankeyMonkey ( 520090 ) <mrich66.home@com> on Saturday September 08, 2001 @01:26PM (#2267974)
    Something to think about here is that overly general laws tend to also arouse the ire of the federal courts. In terms of constitutional law, it is critical for a law to be narrowly tailored to its purpose, and to not have a broad-reaching scope that overreaches its stated purpose.

    In this case, I gather that the stated purpose is to protect intellectual property claims. Unfortunately, the way the draft is written it has a number of unpleasant side effects.

    1. The potential to have a chilling effect on Security research, as we have already seen in the case of the DMCA.

    2. Effectively bars non-commercial developers from writing software that complies with the standards established by industry, since the licensing fees attached will no doubt be prohibitive to private individuals or not-for-profit groups. "Non-discriminatory licensing terms" does not include the inherent discrimination of high licensing fees.

    3. Forces non-US interests to attempt to comply with the standards, as it bars the import of non-compliant devices. This provision gives an unfair advantage to US corporations, since non-US businesses will have no input into the standards that they will need to implement in order to sell their products in the US marketplace.

    This is simply a layman's take on the overreaching nature of this draft. I would hope that electronic civil liberties groups will be all over this one. The fact that this one isn't being snuck into legislation by a congressional clerk should give the EFF and other groups a better chance to head it off before it comes to fruition.
  • by antientropic ( 447787 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @02:39PM (#2268328)

    I wouldn't sit back happily if I were you. Everything bad that happens in the US also happens in Europe with a few years delay.

    Anyway, the European Council has accepted a new DMCA-style copyright directive [] back in April. It states: "Member States shall provide adequate legal protection against the circumvention of any effective technological measures, which the person concerned carries out in the knowledge, or with reasonable grounds to know, that he or she is pursuing that objective." (Article 6.1) So, forget DeCSS. Member states now have until December 2002 to implement it in local law.

  • by reverius ( 471142 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @03:26PM (#2268484) Homepage Journal
    Here is an e-mail I just wrote to one of my Senators (who almost won the Republican primaries this last presidential election... note that I'm not a Republican...) :)

    Dear Mr. McCain,

    I am a resident of Arizona, and a computer user. I recently read about an act scheduled to be introduced to the Senate entitled the "Security Systems Standards and Certification Act" [], sponsored by Senator Fritz Hollings (D-South Carolina) and Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska). Under this act, it would be a civil offense to create or sell any kind of computer equipment that "does not include and utilize certified security technologies" approved by the federal government. I politely request, as a citizen of Arizona, that you vote against this Act for the reasons in this letter.

    I see this as a violation of a basic freedom to create, use, or sell anything I want to (including, of course, computer equipment) without government interference.

    It is of course necessary to deny the right to create and sell certain things, such as drugs; these things can be harmful and should not be sold.

    That however, does not apply to computer equipment; there is no way I can harm anyone with my own computer equipment. But this Act denies me the right to create and sell computer equipment without federally approved security technologies.

    The primary purpose for this regulation is the protection of content provided by large media corporations that have lobbied for this Act. Lobbyists from the music and record industry have, and will continue to lobby congress in the hopes of further regulation for consumers and corporations to protect their content.

    In a computer system certified by the federal government, their content would be protected from misuse by consumers. It is an ideal situation for the music and record industry, then, that all computers in legal use would be certified.

    This helps that particular industry, but hurts another. In the computer industry, if this Act is passed, it would be illegal to create and sell anything not certified by the federal government to specifically protect the content of these corporations.

    I would like to create and sell computer equipment that does not "utilize certified security technologies", and I should have the legal right to. I do have that right under the current laws.

    The products of the recording industry should not be protected by laws that regulate other industries, and deny my right to sell my own computer equipment without federal approval.

    I implore you, Senator McCain, to vote against the Security Systems Standards and Certification Act when it comes before the Senate.

    Thank you.

    (my name here)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 08, 2001 @04:24PM (#2268657)
    A suggestion. Also comment on how it is bad for Canadian culture and the media industry itself.

    Much paper and record copyright music from the last century is still around today because personal copies were made while the copyrighted work was still around. If the technologies for personal fair use non-digital copies were disallowed great works of Canadian and European art would decay and disappear long before the copyright expired.

    Digital works decay over time also. The medium on which they are held deteriorates. Backups of backups need to be allowed.

    Devices that hold the copyrighted work become obsolete. We need to be able to convert copyrighted works so that they can be used on newer devices.

    The file format of information on the digital media changes every year. Microsoft Word (for DOS) documents from less than ten years ago cannot be read by any word processor out there. Old documents are as useless as text from a long forgotten language. We need to be able to convert documents into other file formats. I believe Canada faced this issue not too long ago. The Aloette(sp?) Satellite collected an enormous amount of data during the 1960s(?) and placed it on digital tapes that are no longer readable by modern computers. Canada discovered that the data was actually useful to study the ozone layer, so it began searching for ways to recover that information. From the last I heard, there's no way they'll be able to recover all the information.

    Copyrighted digital texts can only be read by the blind if the digital text can be converted to braille. Movies without closed captioning can only be watched by the hearing impaired if they can use speach recognition programs to extract the words from the movie. We need to be able to process the information in the movie.

    Canada needs a strong culture.

    Canada needs to keep the compassion to help the disadvantaged, disabled, and elderly.

    Canada needs fair use.
  • Re:Armchair Bitching (Score:3, Informative)

    by mikethegeek ( 257172 ) <.blair. .at. .NOwcmifm.comSPAM.> on Saturday September 08, 2001 @04:57PM (#2268782) Homepage
    Hollings was one of Frank Zappa's biggest attackers, and Senator Algore's biggest supporters in the PMRC hearings, so his hostility towards the Constitution should be no surpise to anyone.
  • by SomeoneYouDontKnow ( 267893 ) on Saturday September 08, 2001 @05:26PM (#2268883)

    Yes! Agreed 100%!

    I'm going to be writing my congressmen and senators, and I'm also going to attempt to give the good Sen. Hollings a clue. It may be a futile effort to try to educate him, but it's worth a shot.

    If you write your reps, remember to do a few things.

    • Use snail mail, not e-mail. E-mail will be ignored.
    • Get the title of the proposed legislation right, and make sure you point out that it's still a draft bill.
    • Include a copy of the draft with your letter.
    • Make clear arguments in language your mother can understand. Very few politicians will know what Open Source, OSS, Linux, or DRM mean, but they most likely will know about fair use, economic impact, and most importantly, votes.
    • Point out, in very clear language, and using examples, if necessary, how this will harm average, law-abiding, voting Americans.
    • For God's sake, write professionally, and proofread.

    Doing a few other things will also help.

    • Make sure any news-oriented Web sites know about this. Write them a clear, concise, informative e-mail, and provide relevant links. Don't mass-mail them. One message for each site.
    • Make sure potentially supportive activist groups also know. Don't just limit yourself to the big national groups. In fact, if you're at a college or university, approach the College Democrats and/or Young Republicans. That may sound absurd, but it could have an interesting effect if, say, a chapter of the College Democrats in South Carolina wrote to Sen. Hollings denouncing his bill.
    • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. When you do this, keep it short and to the point, and use language that someone with an eighth-grade education can understand. Make them care about this, and tell them what to do.
    • Tell your friends who aren't up to date on tech news about it. Don't bug them if they don't want to listen right then, but try to give them a glimmer of an idea.

    And for anyone who is going to respond saying that nothing will help... If you take your own advice and do nothing, you'll prove yourself absolutely right. Take the time you were going to spend bemoaning this monstrosity here and use it to do something that will matter.

"The pathology is to want control, not that you ever get it, because of course you never do." -- Gregory Bateson