Hacker Tool Law

Posted on Aug 12, 2007

If you live in Germany, from today on you might just get arrested for making an Hacker Tool. And pretty much anything call fall into this category, even “ping -f” functionality could get ping’s author into trouble. Amazing.

But don’t get too amazed, in Portugal a very similar law was introduced recently. It came and was approved so smoothly and so under the radar that it makes me think about the whole law approval process in Portugal, the lobbyists, and how people are disconnected and uninterested in politics. Or at least until they take on our basic liberty principles, like this is the case, but then it’s too late. And that’s generally the point when Portuguese complaint, like me.

The 176/2006 8/May law states that if you have a satellite dish and a generic TV receiver, you may just get incriminated for it, get a whooping 5k€ fine and a criminal record. The definition of illegal equipment is so vague that I guess anything other than a TV Cabo receiver will fit. Doesn’t matter if you’re not pirating any TV operator and just have the dish for a hobby or for a legal foreign subscription to watch football, explain that in court later, if you can.

Now for us, technology lovers, this is obviously a dangerous law that due to it’s fuzziness, attacks our liberty and our passion for (legal) hacking. I don’t mind having laws against piracy and theft, but make them good objective laws, not this crap. But nonetheless the law passed and it’s in place.

I’ve been rough on criticism when it comes to politicians and technology and it’s never too much. Technology laws usually address emerging technologies, and they’re hard to understand, even for us. Law makers and law enforcers should do a big effort and involve specialists or specialty comities in the process. Laws are meant to be mainly to protect our citizens and our society, not to backup the allegations of the big corporations or business. This is not right.

And the general media doesn’t help too. Confusing the whole BTuga case with Bittorrent and P2P technology being to source to all piracy and evil it’s just pure sensationalism and irresponsibility. Maybe we need a law against this too.