Wednesday 12 April 2017

Debate rages over controversial copyright standard for the web

New Scientist reports that a new standard that is intended to enable web browsers to deal with digital rights management software is proving controversial. The Encrypted Media Extensions mechanism replaces browser plugins, which have a bad track record for security. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is seeking to standardise EME, to avoid compatibility problems across different browsers.

The controversy stems from fears that EME might introduce security flaws into browsers, and as tampering with DRM systems is illegal under many countries' laws (including the USA and EU Member States) researchers will not be able to check for bugs.

With the widespread use of DRM, without which film studios would not make their products available on services such as Netflix and Amazon, take-up by the browser-makers is unavoidable, and W3C's approval almost inevitable. But standardisation is often the enemy of innovation: and in this case, it might also be the enemy of security.

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