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[liberationtech] WC3 and DRM

Jonathan Wilkes jancsika at
Wed Jul 31 15:59:09 PDT 2013

On 07/26/2013 06:18 PM, Steve Weis wrote:
> DRM technologies have a flip side as privacy-preserving technology.

What is the technology that lets me make my data searchable but
not copyable?  What is the technology that lets Google share my
data with a few third parties which I approve but no other third

That would be the flip side of DRM technologies.  If what you're
talking about is encryption, then let's talk about encryption (on
hardware devices, or whatever).

> It's all a matter of whose data is being protected and who owns the
> hardware.
> 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].

The whole point of the Cartesian "nub of certainty" (which is what
Doctorow is referring to in that speech) is that it
ostensibly doesn't require the "user" to trust the "specs" or the
"implementation".  An evil demon (daemon) could be tricking me
with regard to every single one of my sensory organs, but at
the moment I reflect on my existence, I exist.  That's a hard
philosophical claim, and its seeming purity is the reason it
changed western thought up to the present day.

What Doctorow describes wrt Trusted Platform Modules is
making current crummy computer security slightly better
by adding hardware crypto, and only slightly better _if_
the hardware does what it claims to be doing and _if_ the
specs are written in a way that actually ends up protecting
users and _if_ that hardware gains traction to _actually_
protect users instead of lock them down further into
walled gardens.  I can't think of an analogy where the
one thing is further in every conceivable way from the
other thing.  Using a concept known solely because of its
lack of conditionals to explain a thing based on several
conditionals is the intellectual equivalent of putting a shiny
aluminum can in close vicinity of a half-naked, attractive
young person in order to whet one's appetite for sugar

> 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.

I don't agree with calling those "DRM" technologies any more than
I agree to calling Tor "High Tech Terrorism" technologies.


> [1]
> [2]
> 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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