BEREC clarifies that permanent network security measures may be OK

Four years ago, Jisc responded to the Board of European Regulators of Electronic Communications (BEREC) consultation on network neutrality to point out that some security measures cannot just be temporary responses by the victims of attacks, but need to be permanently configured in all networks to prevent them being used for distributed denial of service and other attacks. This applies, in particular, to blocking of spoofed addresses, as recommended by BCP-38. The final 2015 version of the BEREC guidelines contained a four word change to the consultation draft, suggesting that such measures should not be considered as breaking network neutrality.

BEREC is now consulting on new draft guidelines, published in October 2019, which contain a much more explicit statement that permanently configured blocks do not automatically breach neutrality:

NRAs should consider that, in order to identify attacks and activate security measures, the use of security monitoring systems by ISPs is often justified. Such traffic management systems consist of two separate components: one component that executes the traffic management itself and one component that monitors traffic on an ongoing basis and triggers the traffic management. Monitoring of traffic to detect security threats may be implemented in the background on a continuous basis. Traffic management measures (such as those listed in paragraph 84) preserving integrity and security are only triggered when concrete security threats are detected. Therefore, the precondition “only for as long as necessary” does not preclude implementation of such monitoring of the integrity and security of the network.

[Paragraph 85]

This should be welcomed by network operators and users alike.

By Andrew Cormack

I'm Chief Regulatory Advisor at Jisc, responsible for keeping an eye out for places where our ideas, services and products might raise regulatory issues. My aim is to fix either the product or service, or the regulation, before there's a painful bump!

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