Canadian Privacy Commissioner rejects DRM: don't give spyware legal protection!

Jennifer Stoddart, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, has published an open letter to Industry Minister Jim Prentice, who has been working behind the scenes to resurrect his disaster of a copyright bill, which will import the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act to Canada. The DMCA has been a total failure, resulting in nearly 30,000 lawsuits against music fans, massive anti-competitive effects, and despite all that, no discernable decrease in unauthorised copying.

At issue in Stoddart's letter is the idea of protecting "Digital Rights Management" anti-copying and use-control systems in law. These systems frequently spy on users and then "phone home" with detailed information about your activities. The Privacy Commissioner is understandably alarmed at the prospect of changing Canadian law to make it illegal to tamper with this spyware:

If DRM technologies only controlled copying and use of content, our Office would have few concerns. However, DRM technologies can also collect detailed personal information from users, who often do no more than access the content on a computer. This information is transmitted back to the copyright owner or content provider, without the consent or knowledge of the user. Although the means exist to circumvent these technologies and thus prevent the collection of this information, previous proposals to amend the Copyright Act contained anti-circumvention provisions.

Technologies that report back to a company about the use of a product reveal a great deal about an individual's tastes and preferences. Indeed, such information can be extremely personal. Technologies that automatically collect personal information about individuals without their knowledge or consent violate the fair information principles that are central to PIPEDA and most other privacy legislation. That this occurs when individuals are engaged in a private activity in their homes or other places where they have a high expectation of privacy exacerbates the intrusiveness of the collection.


(via Ars Technica)