Legislation

Georgia SB 315 – A deeper dive


NOTE: You can find my original post about SB 315 here.

Thanks to the watchful eye of the EFF Georgia group, I learned that SB 315 was approved by the Senate Public Safety committee, and is headed to the floor of the Senate for a final vote. If the bill passes there, it would then cross over to the House for their consideration.

The committee amended the bill, adding exemptions for parental oversight of their minor children’s computer activity, as well as accessing a computer or network for “…a legitimate business activity”. Additionally, it appears the committee removed a provision that allowed for civil asset forfeiture of equipment used in conjunction with violating this law.

Overall, I think I understand what the committee was trying to do, and I believe the intent was good. I certainly wouldn’t want to see parents punished for doing their job, and I also wouldn’t want to see employees punished for engaging in “legitimate business activity.”

Unfortunately, by trying to carve out these exceptions, the committee has also introduced more vague language which can lead to problems – how exactly is “legitimate business activity” defined? The bill is silent on this.

Additionally, the committee did not add any language to clarify the meaning of “unauthorized computer access”. So, we are still stuck at square one with this issue.

Finally, while I’m glad that exceptions have been carved out in the two situations described above, security researchers in academia and industry have been left out. In order for us to carry out our research without fear of arrest and prosecution, we should also be afforded the same protections as parents and business employees doing their daily work.

While the bill now seems to be moving rather quickly through the Senate, I’m still hopeful that these changes can be made. Amendments could be offered up on the floor of the Senate prior to the final vote, or by the House of Representatives could make these changes as they consider the bill.

I’ll continue to watch this bill as it moves through the legislative process. I would like to thank the many people on Twitter who have seen my blog post and tweets on this issue, and have shared them to raise awareness of this situation, or have sent me private messages to share additional insights. Thank you all!

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