WTF @omarfayad — Should *all* computer activity be illegal now? #LeyFayad
Last week, Senator Omar Fayad presented one of the prime examples of a poorly redacted law that, if enacted, will make basically any way of computer use illegal. And yes, even if he states this is merely a draft, it has so many factual and conceptual errors that there is no way to trust sanity can be regained at any point. Oh, and before I continue with this rant: If the topic interests you, I suggest you to read the 10 key points about Ley Fayad, the worst Internet initiative in history, published by r3d.mx.
[update] An English equivalent of the work at r3d, at revolution-news.com: #LeyFayad: The Worst Bill in Internet History
The full text (in Spanish, of course) for the law initiative is available at the Senate webpage; the law will be called Ley Federal para Prevenir y Sancionar los Delitos Informáticos (Federal law to prevent and punish informatic felonies<) — A bad name to start with, as there are many laws already in that contested area. I started reading with the preamble (Exposición de motivos), which already shows bad signs of imprecise redaction and is plagued with factual errors (i.e. asserting that the real danger stems from the Web migrating to the Web 2.0, from which stems that this migration and not any previous one. Or by stating that (quoting+translating a full paragraph):
Activities such as electronic commerce, digital periodism, publicity and the opinions, messages or elements written in social networks can lead to patrimonial, reputation, honor or professional activity losses for people.
He continues by stating that only 16% of the countries have some kind of cybersecurity strategy (and, of course, Mexico doesn’t). That… Well, is very hard to believe, as Mexico has two separate policial groups devoted to cybersecurity, and laws regulating from electronic signatures, commerce, identity, privacy, use and abuse, and a long list.
Of course, as most law proposals go, it quickly decays into a dry, boring document… And I must admit I didn’t fully read it, but picked here and there. I won’t copy in full the note I mentioned at the beginning at r3d.mx, but will continue with some strange points, such as:
- Article 16
- Every person that, without the corresponding authorization or exceeding the authorization confered, accesses, intercepts, interfers or uses an information system, will be punished by one to eight years of prision and fined by 800 to 1000 days of minimum wage
So, yes, borrowing your computer without getting explicit permission, or playing around with the options in kiosks, or tons of whatever we curious people do with systems we encounter are basis for jail. (And yes, fines in this country are expressed in “days of minimum wage”, which goes at ~MX$70 per day, which is ~US$4). But it gets funkier quickly:
- Article 17
- Whoever fraudulently destroys, disables, damages or in any way alters the working of an informatic system or any of its components, will be punished by fice to fifteen years of jail and fined by up to a thousand minimum wage days The same punishment will be given to whoever, without authorization, destroys, damages, modifies, divulges, transfers or disables information contained in any Informatic System or any of its components. The punishment will be ten to twenty years in prision and a fine of up to a thousand days of minimum wage if the effects here mentioned are done by the creation, introduction or fraudulent transmission, by any means, of an informatic weapon or malicious code
This law is meant to protect against cyberfelonies, if such a thing exists. However, here we are putting at risk people even for accidental equipment destructions. I dropped your portable hard disk with my elbow off the table? Accuse me of acting fraudulently, and I’m up for a serious jail time. And yes, laws are meant to be interpreted… And I don’t want to be at the receiving end of this one!
In this last article, Fayad mentions informatic weapons, which are defined in the preamble as any informatic program, informatic system, or in general, any device or material created or designed with the purpose of committing an informatic crime. So the very next article makes me, as it should make all of my fellow students and researchers, very uneasy:
- Article 18
- Whoever uses informatic weapons or malicious code will be imprisioned by two to six years, and fined with 200 to 500 days of minimum wage.
- Article 19
- Whoever builds, distributes, commerces with informatic weapons or malicious codes will be punished by three to seven years of prision and 200 to 500 days of minimum wage.
If we need to analyze malware for our classes (or for paid work, or as a hobby), we clearly fall in article 18. If we write something that can be classified as malware (without even releasing it, as an academic excercise only!), we are covered by article 19. If I give my students code that’s known to be malicious (which could be as inofensive as linking to a well-known Web comic), I’m also covered by article 19.
I’ll jump all the way to article 31 (reproduced only partially):
- Article 31
- Whoever, by any means, creates, captures, records, copies, alters, duplicates, clones or deletes the information contained in a credit or debit card (...) will be punished by 8 to 14 years of prision and 300 to 500 days of minimum wage. (...)
This clearly disincentivates any way of e-commerce. When I try to buy anything online, I have to capture+copy my (rightfully owned) credit card data. The services provider has to copy, process and then delete said information. Any e-transaction is punished by jail!
Well… But thinking about this again, maybe I shouldn’t be so worried about the malware distribution issue at my classes. There are clearer and more contundent articles. Say…
- Article 35
- Whoever convenes, organizes, is part of, or executes a cibernetic attack, will be punished by 20 to 30 years of prision and fined with 100 to 1000 days of minimum wage
Of course we have convened, organized, been part of and executed cibernetic attacks at the computer security lab at ESIME. Why would there be such a lab otherwise?
Then, there are clear indications that the Senator didn’t understand the topic his team was working on:
- Article 37
- Who manipulates the digital seals used by command of the public authority will be punished with 240 days of community work
Now… What is a digital seal? It’s not a phisical one that does not allow opening the doors to a business found at fault, but something that just proves a document is legitimate and pristine. How can I manipulate them? Of course, if the seals are MD5-based, I can easily forge them (and SHA1-based, it seems they will be broken enough soon to be considered no longer trustable)… But that’s about it!
And there is more, lots more. I’m swamped with work, and have to get back to it. But chapters the following chapters have a lot of potential for finding holes.
PS - And yes, the only use I do of Twitter is via the headlines in my blog ;-)
[update] Ley Fayad is dead, yay! \o/ The senator withdrew the proposal.