LEGISLATIVE ALERT: SSSCA - Security Systems Standards and Certification Act

There is a new bill on its way to congress that could have a drastic effect on copyright law and the technology we use every day--including open source software.

The Security Systems Standards and Certification Act, or SSSCA, was originated by Senator Fritz Hollings (Dem.-S.Carolina), Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee.

It requires that all hardware and software, referred to as "digital interactive technology or services" must incorporate certified security technology used in conjunction with copyrighted material.

Essentially, all devices and software that fall into this vague definition of digital interactive technology will have to include encryption so it can't be copied. This could include VCR tapes, compact discs, and the devices that run them, as well as computers and open source software.

The act would make it illegal to:

  1. Remove or alter the security technology.
  2. Transmit content where the security technology has been modified or removed.
  3. Manufacture or distribute any digital device or software that does not incorporate the technology.

Without question, Red Hat strongly opposes the bill. We believe it encroaches into the first amendment rights of individuals. It could also have harmful effects on open source software if the fundamental right to copy the software is restricted. In addition, the bill's definition of digital technology is far too broad and could be used to refer to almost any digital technology.

The bill is being motivated by motion picture and television studios that seek to end piracy of their movies and other forms of entertainment. Curiously, these studios also happen to be among Hollings' top campaign contributors, as noted by Newsforge reporter Dan Berkes.

Still in its draft stages, the bill is yet to be introduced to Congress. Our hope is to stop this bill before that happens. But even if the bill is stopped, there is danger that certain provisions of the bill may resurface elsewhere, as rejected elements of the former DMCA bill have resurfaced here.

More information:

Wired: New copyright bill heading to DC

Newsforge: Senator Fritz Hollings (D-Disney) avoids talking about SSSCA

Network Computing: Copyright may threaten open source