mailing list archives
Re: Does VeriSign's SiteFinder service violate the ECPA?
From: Bob Johnson <bob88 () eng ufl edu>
Date: Fri, 26 Sep 2003 12:11:44 -0400
David Nichols wrote:
But isn't there a difference? If someone sends a request to a website, the
site cannot determine intent. It's the senders responsibility to make sure
they're sending the request to correct place. However, VeriSign's actions
are different, they're actively redirecting requests when they cannot
determine it intended destination. To me it's equivalent to the post office
forwarding all undeliverable mail to the federal goverment instead of
simplying sending it back stamped "address unknown".
IANAL, but my recollection is that U.S. case law distinguishes between
unintentionally intercepting something, and intentionally intercepting
it. There was, for instance, a case of someone intercepting microwave
long distance telephone conversations, and their argument was that since
AT&T was transmitting the microwaves across their property, they
were delivering it to them and they could do what they wanted with it.
The courts did not agree with that argument, and basically said (IIRC)
that if it is intended to be point to point, and you have to make an
effort to intercept it (in this case, erecting a microwave antenna and
receiver), then you are not entitled to do it. Thus, it may be (depending
on the exact wording of current law) possible to make a strong argument
that by deliberately intercepting point-to-point transmissions not
intended for them, Verisign is conducting an illegal wiretap (or perhaps
millions of counts of individual wiretaps).
Again, I don't know what the current law actually says, so I don't
know whether there is anything behind that conjecture. It seems worth
looking in to, though.
----- Original Message -----
From: "N407ER" <n407er () myrealbox com>
To: "Richard M. Smith" <rms () computerbytesman com>
Cc: "BUGTRAQ () SECURITYFOCUS COM" <BUGTRAQ () SECURITYFOCUS COM>
Sent: Tuesday, September 23, 2003 10:43 AM
Subject: Re: Does VeriSign's SiteFinder service violate the ECPA?
Richard M. Smith wrote:
Here's a question for the lawyers. In certain situations, does the
VeriSign SiteFinder service violate the Electronic Communications
Privacy Act (AKA, ECPA)?
Here's the actual text of the ECPA:
With my packet sniffer, I noticed that the VeriSign SiteFinder Web
server happily accepts POST form data which is intended for another Web
server. This situation will occur if the domain name is misspelled in
the action URL of a form.
Without SiteFinder in the picture, the HTTP POST operation is never done
since the DNS lookup fails.
By this logic, all webservers which unintentionally accept traffic
without somehow verifying that a typo did not take place violate the
ECPA. Thats ridiculous. Do you really want a precedent where, if someone
accidentally POSTs bank information to your site instead of the URL
they meant to type, you are somehow liable? If I accidentally call you
instead of my friend and tell you all sorts of juicy gossip, is it
really your fault?