Omniscience Protocol Requirements
RFC 3751

Document Type RFC - Informational (April 2004; No errata)
Author Scott Bradner 
Last updated 2013-03-02
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Network Working Group                                         S. Bradner
Request for Comments: 3751                                    Harvard U.
Category: Informational                                     1 April 2004

                   Omniscience Protocol Requirements

Status of this Memo

   This memo provides information for the Internet community.  It does
   not specify an Internet standard of any kind.  Distribution of this
   memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2004).  All Rights Reserved.


   There have been a number of legislative initiatives in the U.S. and
   elsewhere over the past few years to use the Internet to actively
   interfere with allegedly illegal activities of Internet users.  This
   memo proposes a number of requirements for a new protocol, the
   Omniscience Protocol, that could be used to enable such efforts.

1.  Introduction

   In a June 17, 2003 U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, entitled
   "The Dark Side of a Bright Idea: Could Personal and National Security
   Risks Compromise the Potential of Peer-to-Peer File-Sharing
   Networks?," U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the chair of the
   committee, said he was interested in the ability to destroy the
   computers of people who illegally download copyrighted material.  He
   said this "may be the only way you can teach somebody about
   copyrights."  "If we can find some way to do this without destroying
   their machines, we'd be interested in hearing about that," Mr Hatch
   was quoted as saying during a Senate hearing.  He went on to say "If
   that's the only way, then I'm all for destroying their machines."

   Mr. Hatch was not the first U.S. elected official to propose
   something along this line.  A year earlier, representatives, Howard
   Berman (D-Calif.) and Howard Coble (R-N.C.), introduced a bill that
   would have immunized groups such as the Motion Picture Association of
   America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America
   (RIAA) from all state and federal laws if they disable, block, or
   otherwise impair a "publicly accessible peer-to-peer file-trading

Bradner                      Informational                      [Page 1]
RFC 3751           Omniscience Protocol Requirements        1 April 2004

   The attitude of some of the copyright holders may be that it's OK for
   a few honest people to have their computers or networks executed as
   long as the machines and networks of the dishonest are killed.  But
   it is not likely that any measurable error rate would be acceptable
   to the public.  Clearly, anyone implementing laws of this type need
   some way to reduce the error rate and be sure that they are dealing
   with a real bad guy and not an innocent bystander.

   Part of determining if someone is a "bad guy" is determining his or
   her intent.  Historically, western jurisprudence has required that
   prosecutors show that a person intended to commit a crime before that
   person could be convicted of committing that crime.  [Holdsworth,
   Restatement, Prosser, United States v. Wise, Garratt v. Dailey]
   Because it can be quite difficult to establish a person's intent
   lawmakers have, in some cases, reduced the requirement for
   prosecutors to establish intent and mere possession is now proof
   enough of intent.

   This memo proposes a set of requirements for a new protocol to be
   used by prosecutors to determine a person's intent, thus reducing the
   need to dilute the historical legal requirement to show intent and by
   groups such as the MPAA and RIAA to be sure they are dealing with
   lawbreakers and not 60 year old non computer users.

2.  Omniscience Protocol Requirements

   For the purpose of these requirements, I will assume that the OP is
   implemented using a client-server model, where the OP client is
   installed on the user's computer and the server is installed on a
   computer run by a law or copyright enforcement organization.  OP
   Clients would register with all OP Servers that pertain to the legal
   jurisdiction in which the client is located each time the computer is
   started.  OP Servers would then, on whatever schedule they have been
   configured to use, send OP Queries to OP Clients to find out if the
   computer operator has engaged in an illegal act of interest to the
   operator of the OP Server.  Future versions of the OP might operate
   using a peer-to-peer model if the copyright enforcement people can
   ever get over their visceral disgust at the very concept of peer-to-
   peer networks.

   For the purpose of this memo, I will use copyright infringement as an
   example of an illegal act that the OP protocol could be used to
   expose.  The OP has numerous possible applications beyond ferreting
   out copyright infringement.  For example, the OP would be of great
   assistance to instructors trying to determine if their students are
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