There's no going back after CPRM, warns Schneier

Hardware copyright control under the 'scope

CPRM copy control poses "a serious threat to civil liberties", writes cryptography expert Bruce Schneier.

In an analysis of the CPRM specs that the 4C Entity has proposed for inclusion in the ATA hard drive specification in his latest Cryptogram newsletter, Schneier warns of their social cost. He also
comprehensively debunks the spin that CPRM - as it was first thrown at the ATA committee - was only ever intended for removable media:-

"This is a lie, of course. Already it is planned for IBM's tiny hard drive, and larger drives aren't far behind," he writes.

In placing CPRM proposals in a political context, he warns that the entertainment lobby will use the law to clampdown on software writers seeking to restore their earlier freedom, in the way it has harassed the DVD crackers who created the DiVX software.

"2600 Magazine was successfully prosecuted for linking to DeCSS; similar pressure will be brought to bear against anyone who publicizes any DeCPRM software."

Running through a litany of potential social costs, Schneier concludes:-

"And we have an increased reliance on legal harassment by media companies. It's that last bit that scares me the most."

Scheneier popularised the idea of a 'trusted client' - a client workstation or PC whose content is controlled by the owner rather than the user of the data. And that's pretty much the end game of the 4C lobby. CPRM in hard drives would hand copying, moving and deleting data back to the "owner."

You can read it in full here.

Coincidentally John Gilmore has today found a home for his landmark posting which puts SDMI, CPRM and other stealth restrictive technologies in a broader perspective here.

If you're thinking, "but these guys cry wolf every year, why should I be interested now?", do read this poetic piece and see how easily technology liberties that you take for granted can be taken away. ®

Related Link

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