Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A new bill proposes that wireless providers be required to keep logs of Wireless network traffic for two years for the convenience of law enforcement. It apparently applies to anyone running a wireless connection to the internet.

I don't think this stands a chance in hell of passing, but even if it does, it is both useless and an unreasonable burden.

Most people running a wireless network are fairly uneducated home users--about a third don't even set up the most rudimentary security.

Logging will slow many routers down. It requires storage somewhere, and few routers have anywhere near enough room. Would it be a crime if the computer the log is stored on crashes? If you upgrade to a new computer, or replace a hard drive?

Logging is also trivial to defeat. In many Linux systems, it takes three commands:

ifconfig eth0 down
ifconfig eth0 hw ether 00:11:22:33:44:55
ifconfig eth0 up

(replace 00:11:22:33:44:55 with the address you want to use)
It is a little more difficult in Windows, but not by much, and there are downloadable programs to do it for you. Google Mac Address Spoofing for more details.

So a rudimentary knowlege of how this stuff works shows that it is easily bypassed and imposes substantial burdens on the innocent. If the lawmaker proposing this (a Republican this time, but based on a Democratic proposal from a few years ago) doesn't understand that much, what business does he have writing a law about it?

If he does understand, and wants it anyhow--What is his real purpose?

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