Here's a reading (MP3) of a my latest Guardian column, Firefox's adoption of closed-source DRM breaks my heart, a close analysis of the terrible news that Mozilla has opted to add closed source DRM to its flagship Firefox browser:
The decision to produce systems that treat internet users as untrusted adversaries to be controlled by their computers was clearly taken out of a sense of desperation and inevitability.
It’s clear that Mozilla plans to do everything it can to mitigate the harms from its DRM strategy and to attempt to reverse the trend that brought it to this pass.
Like many of Mozilla’s longtime supporters, I hold it to a high standard. It is not a for-profit. It’s a social enterprise with a mission to empower and free its users.
I understand that Apple, Microsoft and Google are for-profit entities that have demonstrated repeatedly that their profitability trumps their customers’ rights, and I fault them for this. But it’s not unreasonable to hold mission-driven nonprofits to a higher standard than their commercial counterparts.
Mozilla says it’s doing everything it can to reduce the harm from what it sees as an inevitable decision. As a Mozilla supporter, contributor and user, I want it to do more.
Mastering by John Taylor Williams: firstname.lastname@example.org
John Taylor Williams is a audiovisual and multimedia producer based in Washington, DC and the co-host of the Living Proof Brew Cast. Hear him wax poetic over a pint or two of beer by visiting livingproofbrewcast.com. In his free time he makes "Beer Jewelry" and "Odd Musical Furniture." He often "meditates while reading cookbooks."
For months, I've been following the story that the Mozilla project was set to add closed source Digital Rights Management technology to its free/open browser Firefox, and today they've made the announcement, which I've covered in depth for The Guardian. Mozilla made the decision out of fear that the organization would haemorrhage users and become irrelevant if it couldn't support Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Video, and other services that only work in browsers that treat their users as untrustable adversaries.
They've gone to great -- even unprecedented -- lengths to minimize the ways in which this DRM can attack Firefox users. But I think there's more that they can, and should, do. I also am skeptical of their claim that it was DRM or irrelevance, though I think they were sincere in making it. I think they hate that it's come to this and that no one there is happy about it.
I could not be more heartsick at this turn of events.
We need to turn the tide on DRM, because there is no place in post-Snowden, post-Heartbleed world for technology that tries to hide things from its owners. DRM has special protection under the law that makes it a crime to tell people if there are flaws in their DRM-locked systems -- so every DRM system is potentially a reservoir of long-lived vulnerabilities that can be exploited by identity thieves, spies, and voyeurs.
Read the rest
Students in the University of Washington Computer Science project have created "ShareMeNot," a Firefox Add-On that defangs social media buttons like the Facebook "Like" button (and others) so that they don't transmit any information about your browsing habits to these services until (and unless) you click on them. That means that merely visiting a page with a Like or a Tweet or a +1 button (like this one) doesn't generate a data-trail for the companies that operate those services, but you still get the benefit of the buttons, that is, if you click them, they still work. Smart.
ShareMeNot is a Firefox add-on designed to prevent third-party buttons (such as the Facebook “Like” button or the Twitter “tweet” button) embedded by sites across the Internet from tracking you until you actually click on them. Unlike traditional solutions, ShareMeNot does this without completely removing the buttons from the web experience.