Sat, Aug. 11, 2007

Key Software Becomes Illegal

.   For some time now, Austrian criminal law has prohibited the possession and use of software programs that enable the interception of data, such as wireless network transmissions. Today, RA Kadelke warns, a German amendment to the criminal code follows suit and proscribes software classified as hacker tools.

Such laws raise complex issues, for instance when standard tools, including the BOSS program suite recommended and published by the German government's IT security agency, Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik is used by parties to track and prove the unauthorized dissemination of their trade secrets.

Use or possession of the BOSS IT security suite could violate new §202(b) of the Strafgesetzbuch and be punished with two years jail. Even linking to the download link on the government's website for its security suite might be crime in Germany.

The perceptible lack of IT knowledge in German courts and assemblies combined with a generalized fear of technology and an expansive construction of Internet liability may lead to decisions that reduce significantly the permissible use and possession of software in Germany and other European countries. Penetration systems -- indispensible in the defense of IT systems against crackers-- would become the first victims of the new law. Fortunately, the supreme court is quite enlightened and stops excesses in IT matters emanating from the lower courts.

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