Entertainment industry petitions congress for permission to use spyware, viruses and ransomware against piracy
The entertainment industry in the U.S. recently released a report about how pirated movies and other copyrighted material has put a damper on sales. Titled the “IP Commission Report” and presented by the "Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property", the report is requesting from the U.S. government permission to plant viruses, spyware or other types of tracking programs to help thwart IP theft.
A recent report titled the “IP Commission Report”, and written by the "Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property" has raised a few eyebrows recently due to some rather controversial recomendations contained in the report.
The 90-page document's objective was to assess the causes and scale of international intellectual property theft (Piracy), as it affects the entertainment industry and the economy of the U.S. as a whole.
What makes some of the recommendations so controversial is that it says the entertainment should be able to attach spyware, trojans or other types of code such as ransomware that could help in thwarting IP theft. It would also give the entertainment industry the advantage of tracking those who commit IP theft on-line no matter their location.
The most controversial segment contained in the report is found under the section heading, "Threat-based Deterrence against Targeted Hackers”, chapter 13, page 81, and under the recommendation “Support efforts by American private entities both to identify and to recover or render inoperable intellectual property stolen through cyber means" – it reads in part,
Additionally, software can be written that will allow only authorized users to open files containing valuable information. If an unauthorized person accesses the information, a range of actions might then occur. For example, the file could be rendered inaccessible and the unauthorized user’s computer could be locked down, with instructions on how to contact law enforcement to get the password needed to unlock the account. Such measures do not violate existing laws on the use of the Internet, yet they serve to blunt attacks and stabilize a cyber incident to provide both time and evidence for law enforcement to become involved.
The next opinion comes on the same page under the recommendation title, “Reconcile necessary changes in the law with a changing technical environment”, and reads in part,
While not currently permitted under U.S. law, there are increasing calls for creating a more permissive environment for active network defense that allows companies not only to stabilize a situation but to take further steps, including actively retrieving stolen information, altering it within the intruder’s networks, or even destroying the information within an unauthorized network. Additional measures go further, including photographing the hacker using his own system’s camera, implanting malware in the hacker’s network, or even physically disabling or destroying the hacker’s own computer or network.
The “Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property” may appear to be some kind of bipartisan group backed by the U.S. government, but in fact it is not and supported by the "National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR)". It was also backed by the “Slade Gorton International Policy Center”, which is named for one of the commission members, former Republican Senator Slade Gorton of Washington State. The chairman for the report was Dennis C. Blair, who served as the former U.S. Director of National Intelligence, along with co-chair Jon M. Huntsman, Jr., who was once the Governor of Utah and U.S. Ambassador to China.
In total the report makes 21 recommendations and to some it may be the entertainment industry’s coy way of invading our private lives. The report even celebrates the Cyber Information Sharing and Protection Act, a.k.a., CISPA, which was passed by the House of Representatives in April of this year, and currently awaiting approval by the Senate.
Many privacy rights advocates were strongly opposed to CISPA, and even the President states he would veto the bill if it made it to his desk.