The new standard is named EME, or Encrypted Media Extensions, and it supports DRM systems to pin directly into your browser. That way, Netflix and other video streaming companies can protect their shows and movies outwardly making users install annoying, often vulnerable plugins like Flash or Silverlight. On that record, it’s a win. But in other ways, EME’s approval has a lot of people worried.
Researchers and open Internet advocates bother that by supporting this standard, W3C, the World Wide Web Consortium, is providing major browser developers and content providers too much control over whatever users and researchers can do. “This will crush people, companies, and projects,” Cory Doctorow addresses on the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)’s blog.
Doctorow calls explanation a few specific cases that have come up in the five-year-long dispute over whether this rule should be approved. One is that there’s no shield for security researchers in the US, breaking DRM, even for different legal purposes, can be a crime, and the evidence that EME doesn’t do something about that keeps security researchers exposed to prosecution.
There are also receptiveness and competing concerns. There are no exceptions here that would allow machines to scan videos and automate job like generating subtitles and translations or recognizing strobing lights to generate warnings for people with epilepsy. EME doesn’t normalize decryption either, and Doctorow addresses that companies developing browsers may have to license decryption elements, making it tougher for new browsers to enter the market.
For its part, W3C disagrees with a lot of those concerns. In a note of the standard’s approval, web creator Tim Berners-Lee and W3C project director Philippe Le Hégaret write because they believe EME is better for convenience, because it complies with other web convenience standards, and that having DRM assistance built into the web, instead of needing plugins, makes life easier for browser developers. Berners-Lee also argues that EME gives more privacy protections for watchers because it gives browsers control over how much data is sent back to the streaming provider.
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