New bill would protect security research hacking

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) introduced a bill Thursday that would exempt responsible hacking from prosecution under existing copyright law.

The security and academic community has long worried they could face legal action for basic research, which often involves examining computer networks in a way that may technically run afoul of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

{mosads}The DMCA forbids anyone from circumventing technological protections on copyrighted works.

“The DMCA’s copyright restrictions make us more vulnerable to cyberattacks and stifle innovation,” Wyden said in a statement.

Wyden said his bill, called the Breaking Down Barriers to Innovation Act, “reforms a bad law that inhibits technological innovation.”

The lawmakers also noted the DMCA specter inhibits journalism and personal-device-repair work.

Polis said the bill will benefit these professions.

“It’s a first step towards bringing copyright into the 21st century,” he said.

Privacy advocates have long argued for such an update to the DMCA.

“Security researchers today don’t have the freedom they need to test systems for bugs and then fix them,” the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) said in a January blog post.

As a result, CDT argued, digital security is hampered nationwide.

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