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[liberationtech] WC3 and DRM

Steve Weis steveweis at
Fri Jul 26 15:18:58 PDT 2013

DRM technologies have a flip side as privacy-preserving technology.
It's all a matter of whose data is being protected and who owns the

We generally think of DRM in cases where the data owner is large
company and an individual owns the hardware. In this case, DRM stops
you from copying data you paid for from your own device.

Now flip the roles. You're the data owner and the large company is the
hardware owner; say a cloud computing provider you lease machines
from. Those same technologies can prevent that service provider from
accessing your private data.

Cory Doctrow has come around to this view, as he discusses in his talk
"The coming civll war over general purpose computing" [1]. He's now
advocating the use of Trust Platform Modules (TPMs) as a "nub of
stable certainty" which you can use to verify that whatever hardware
you are using is faithfully booting your own software. This is a
significant departure from viewing TPMs as an anti-consumer
technology, which was espoused by groups like Chilling Effects [2].

As Doctrow puts it "a victory for the "freedom side" in the war on
general purpose computing would result in computers that let their
owners know what was running on them". Some of the very same
technologies that enable DRM could help us verify that computers are
running what they should be.


On Fri, Jul 26, 2013 at 2:22 PM, Richard Brooks <rrb at> wrote:
> Obviously, these issues have been very thoroughly discussed
> by Corey Doctorow and Larry Lessig. DRM has not proved to be
> effective at safeguarding intellectual property. It seems
> to be most effective as a tool in maintaining limited
> monopolies, since it stops other companies from investing
> in creating products compatible with existing products.

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