Bill makes PC networks illegal - ISOCNZ

The Internet Society (ISOCNZ) says the 'interception devices' definition in the proposed Crimes Amendment Bill would make it illegal to connect any PC to a network.

The Internet Society (ISOCNZ) says the "interception devices" definition in the proposed Crimes Amendment Bill would make it illegal to connect any PC to a network.

The society has released a draft position paper on the bill questioning the government’s stance on encryption and calling the definition of interception device as "... any device ... that is capable of being used to intercept a private communication ..." too broad.

“Most personal computers in use in offices, and homes, today in New Zealand include a network card, usually to attach to an ethernet network. Because of the way that computer networks work, the network card in one PC can ‘hear’ all of the things that other computers attached to the same (physical) computer network are ‘saying’,” the society says.

“If the definition proposed by the bill were to become law then almost everyone with a modern personal computer for use at work, or at home, would be in possession of an ‘interception device’. This is surely not the intention of the drafters of the bill.” The bill should be reworded, says the society.

“The focus of the bill could be changed away from 'interception devices' towards the actions being taken by people, particularly those once they have 'intercepted' the communication. Rules modelled after those in the Privacy Act 1993, and radio communication legislation would provide a good foundation.”

The rules regarding encryption also fails to meet ISOCNZ expectations.

“Simply because someone receives, or has in their possession, information which appears to be encrypted, does not mean that they are able to decrypt it. Even their name or email address listed on the information does not necessarily mean that they encrypted it.” The society is calling for encryption to be left out of this amendment and regarded separately in its own bill. It recommends the use of encryption technology and will continue to do so.

“ISOCNZ urges parliament to ensure suitable strong encryption technology remains available to New Zealanders. ISOCNZ believes this is essential to ensure New Zealand's place in the growing electronic commerce markets, and the new economy.”

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