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Using Net Proxies Will Lead To Harsher Sentences 366

Afforess writes "'Proxy servers are an everyday part of Internet surfing. But using one in a crime could soon lead to more time in the clink,' reports the Associated Press. The new federal rules would make the use of proxy servers count as 'sophistication' in a crime, leading to 25% longer jail sentences. Privacy advocates complain this will disincentivize privacy and anonymity online. '[The government is telling people] ... if you take normal steps to protect your privacy, we're going to view you as a more sophisticated criminal,' writes the Center for Democracy and Technology. Others fear this may lead to 'cruel and unusual punishments' as Internet and cell phone providers often use proxies without users' knowledge to reroute Internet traffic. This may also ultimately harm corporations when employees abuse VPN's, as they too are counted as a 'proxy' in the new legislation. TOR, a common Internet anonymizer, is also targeted in the new legislation. Some analysts believe this legislation is an effort to stop leaked US Government information from reaching outside sources, such as Wikileaks. The legislation (PDF, the proposed amendment is on pages 5-15) will be voted on by the United States Sentencing Commission on April 15, and is set to take effect on November 1st. The EFF has already urged the Commission to reject the amendment."
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Using Net Proxies Will Lead To Harsher Sentences

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  • But (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EkriirkE ( 1075937 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @07:44PM (#27579803) Homepage
    What about forced proxy usage? Like using opera mini. Even in sockets mode, it seems to pipe through the Swedish proxy.
  • by certain death ( 947081 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @07:48PM (#27579871)
    We will rename Proxies to Application Firewalls once they get all the wording in their laws right and passed! :o)
  • My Solution (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @07:49PM (#27579881)

    I'm working on a single drop-in ASPX/C# page that contains a web proxy, so that any newbie web hacker can have an anonymising web proxy in their own web site. I'll leave the PHP version to somebody else :-) The idea being that if thousands of (overwise legitimate) web sites in dozens of countries have proxy pages in then the national firewalls will have a lot of trouble blocking them out. The basic rule i'm going with is that it remains text only - so that it's below the MAFIAA and think-o-the-children lobbiests' radars. Watch this space.

  • by Jason Pollock ( 45537 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @07:52PM (#27579909) Homepage

    Every telco that I know of uses a transparent proxy to improve performance.

    There are proxies on the receiving end too.

    Heck, proxies usually make things _easier_ for law enforcement, they tend to keep logs that they can get at without letting the target know.

    Oh, I get it, they're against private ownership of proxies.

    That's fine, ban the proxy!

  • Why not (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @07:52PM (#27579911)
    just rename the US government to "Entertainment Industry Protection, Inc?". I mean, that's basically your government's only function now...
  • This just in.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @08:05PM (#27580105)

    Let's imagine you buy a gun, and take steps to do it anonymously. You go out of state to a place that lets you evade checks. What do you think the police are going to think?

    This is nothing new, and nothing exceptional.

  • Re:But (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @08:33PM (#27580459)

    That's the issue: More and more stuff is being criminalized. Seen the ACTA treaty, the parts that were leaked? It allows private parties to initiate criminal (as in don't drop the soap) action against individuals in the US. In the UK, this is already done, but here in the US, private goons can't have someone arrested, then figure out how to prosecute a case later... yet.

    Add the fact that ISPs are ordered to keep logs indefinitely (and a number will happily hand them over to anyone), it creates an aura of surveillance. Thoughtcrime anyone? Right now, the solution is proxies. For example, the proxy I use does keep logs, but ditches them after a couple days if there isn't an obvious intrusion or case of abuse, which is reasonable. There have been claims that proxies that "don't keep logs" actually do, so I'd rather know the disposing time of an honest service.

    This attack on anonymity isn't going to catch the criminals (they are in countries with less Draconian laws, or are hijacking a legit connection), it is mainly a tool to go after dissidents and help keep more in depth profiles of Internet users.

  • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @09:01PM (#27580719)

    that the government can spy on us but we can't spy on them....

    Wait a minute, government for the people by the people....

    Seems the government has gone arrogant...

    Welcome to America, circa post-9/11.

    This isn't really anything new, just a continuation of the erosion of our privacy that's been increasing at a faster rate since 9/11, that's all. I'm not even going to waste my time in attempting to put blame on any particular party either. We would likely be reading about this regardless of who is sitting in the White House.

    Oh, and you can forget about that "for the people, by the people" stuff. Seems like the last time that held any standing in Congress was when the author was still alive.

  • by DynaSoar ( 714234 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @09:24PM (#27580993) Journal

    A proxy serves to protect the initiator by acting on its behalf. It represents the initiator to the source being addressed.

    Lawyers are proxies for their clients.

    Being represented by a lawyer is a 'sophistication' and should lead to a harsher sentence.

    Lest one think that "in committing a crime" doesn't apply, consider that a person swears to tell "the whole truth", that not doing so is lying which is perjury, and that the lawyer representing the person attempts to promote one particular version of the truth, thus not "the whole truth". A lawyer perjures on behalf of their client, and the ubiquitous "or causes to" term can be applied, making the client responsible for the perjury committed by the lawyer.

  • by shermo ( 1284310 ) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @09:59PM (#27581351)

    So prison rape is approved by judges as a part of sentencing?

    I guess we could have figured that one out, but it's nice to know for sure.

  • Re:But (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Mr. Slippery ( 47854 ) <> on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @10:10PM (#27581449) Homepage

    What does "sophistication" have to do with the underlying crime?

    If one considers that the purpose of the criminal justice system is to rehabilitate (where possible) people who have shown that they are a threat to the rights of others, then certainly the question of whether their actions are casual "crimes of passion", momentary lapses, or if they are part of a planned and long-prepared pattern, would be relevant.

    Of course, our criminal justice system as constituted has fsck-all to do with rehabilitation, so that argument is irrelevant; and of course using a proxy is no more a "sophisticated" method of committing a crime than is, say, declining to leave your phone number scrawled over the scene.

  • Re:But (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nabsltd ( 1313397 ) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @12:33AM (#27582347)

    Theoretically someone at my ISP could do exactly what Opera is doing.

    Not if you are making a direct SSL connection to the server and paying attention to any warnings your browser gives you about the cert subject not matching the hostname in the URL.

    Yes, it's possible that Verizon, Comcast, Time Warner, etc., have all managed to get SSL certs for every "interesting" site issued to them with nobody noticing, but it's not likely.

  • Re:But (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nabsltd ( 1313397 ) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @12:44AM (#27582399)

    It is not making the use of a proxy for your normal, every day, non-criminal activities illegal. It is when you actively use a proxy to attempt to hide your identity when committing a crime.

    By definition, a proxy helps to "attempt to hide your identity", whether or not that hiding is truly effective or intentional is a matter for debate.

    But, take things like libel, which in the US used to have truth as an iron-clad defense. That is no more (at least in one jurisdiction), so if you use a proxy to do something libelous, you are now on the hook for more than before.

    The point the GP was making (and that you missed completely) is that so many actions are illegal that sometimes even knowing is hard, and as things like copyright infringement become criminal in all cases (if the **AA has their way), then the act of posting a video to YouTube via a proxy isn't just a DMCA takedown issue, but becomes a crime with 25% more jail time than not using a proxy, regardless of any reason you might be using the proxy.

  • by Space_Pirate_Arrr ( 1078149 ) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @01:14AM (#27582547)

    If you're doing something that is in a grey area legally, you'd better not use a proxy in case it turns out to be illegal.

    In fact, you should think wice about using a proxy at all. Since we all probably commit minor crimes occasionally, accidentally.

    Using a proxy now exposes you to risk, which must be weighed against the risk of not using one.

    Perhaps this is aimed at preventing the establishment of ubiquitous proxy usage.


The next person to mention spaghetti stacks to me is going to have his head knocked off. -- Bill Conrad