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3/4/2003
02:07 PM
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Unintended Consequences

A new Illinois state law designed to restrict unauthorized access to intellectual property has led one software developer to pull his free open-source security program from his Web site. Illinois resident Tom Liston says he doesn't want to risk prosecution under the law, which makes it illegal to create a device capable of disrupting a communication service without the authorization of the communication service provider, and a crime to conceal the existence, origin, or destination of any communication from a service provider or lawful party. Technically, Liston's LaBrea tool to trap hackers and worms disrupts communications and conceals the origin of network communications. Some software-security analysts and academics say such legislation, supported by groups such as the Motion Picture Association of America in their efforts to curb the pirating of content, will curb legitimate research and speech. Similar legislation has passed or is pending in other states.

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