SSSCA Is "Dead on Arrival"

by Don Marti

Rep. Darrell Issa, a member of the US House of Representatives' Judiciary Committee, said that Sen. Fritz Hollings' controversial Security Systems Standards and Certification Act (SSSCA) is "dead on arrival in Judiciary".

Speaking to Embedded Linux Journal at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas today, the California Republican said he is opposed to the bill, which would establish a government-mandated copy restriction system for all digital devices. Any House version of the SSSCA would have to go through the Judiciary Committee, with another committee possibly holding hearings as well, he said.

"Can the private sector deliver encryption? Of course they can. It's a choice that people make", Rep. Issa said. He called SSSCA "a bite at the apple that we've already consumed". The 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) explicitly did not require devices to honor copy restriction systems.

"Nothing in this section shall require that the design of, or design and selection of parts and components for, a consumer electronics, telecommunications, or computing product provide for a response to any particular technological measure", the DMCA states.

"I want to have competition between great minds coming up with copyright schemes," Rep. Issa said. Besides thorough opposition for the SSSCA, he showed both knowledge of the DMCA and skepticism about some of its less rational provisions. For example, he brought up the problem that it can often be legal to make a personal copy of a work but illegal to circumvent the copy-restriction technology on it.

And he said that in the case of making it possible for blind people to read e-books, "Fair use, including compliance with ADA, should have equal balance with the DMCA."

Don Marti is Technical Editor of Linux Journal.

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