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Terror attacks usher in copy controlled hardware

A Wake Up Call

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Senator Hollings' SSSCA legislation - which makes copy-controlled hardware mandatory (and circumventing it illegal) - has received remarkably little attention since it was revealed ten days ago. No petitions, no EFF Alert (as yet), and very little public uproar.

But according to Andre Hedrick, who publicly fought attempts to put CPRM copy controls into the storage format, the Security Systems Standards and Certification Act provides a perfect platform for the anti-encryption lobby.

He rates the legislation's chance of success as "very high", and even higher after the terrorist atrocities last week.

And CPRM, which after the furore earlier this year sidelined for use in 'removable' media (CF, MMC) only, fits the bill perfectly.

Hedrick is outraged that the PC industry will foot the bill for protecting Hollywood's assets:

"When you place your wares out in an insecure environment, you must expect losses. "The last time I checked, when you need a bodyguard, you have to pay somebody to protect you. They're asking the storage industry to pay," he says.

Hedrick is concerned that the "Digital Security" aspects of the legislation will make honest people criminals, he says, and criminals untouchable. As it stands, the Hollings Bill puts media forensics beyond the law. "Justice can not be served as one has to break the law to protect the law," he told us.

Microsoft succeeded in having the media key unique identifier ratified by the T.13 ATA committee, and although its main usefulness to the Beast is in providing a seed for Windows Product Activation, it also contributes a seed for Microsoft's version of CPRM, he says.

So where are the lobbyists?

Jonathan Potter of the Digital Media Association told us he thought the SSSCA has "no chance" of becoming law.

Unofficially we gather that the Electronic Frontier Foundation views the SSSCA as a distraction from the main business in hand: the DMCA. Stanton McCandish told us today that a position paper was in fact being prepared. Given the hysteria over wiretapping a bill with 'Security' stamped all over looks set to be received more favourably. It's time to fight the unthinkable. ®

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