Study says DRM violates Canadian privacy law

The study indicated that DRM is being used to collect, use and disclose consumers' personal information for secondary purposes.

But according to Christopher Levy, CEO of DRM solutions provider BuyDRM, the study presents a flawed view of DRM technology.

"The focus of the DRM system is to encrypt a piece of media, manage the licence key, profile to that licence, and deliver it -- that's it," Levy said. "It's unfortunate that consumers have been misled by a lot of vocal critics because the truth is DRM is no more evil than the lock and key that's on your door, the alarm on your car, or the authentication system in your cell phone."

In regards to the study's third-party communications, Levy said that based on his experiences, he's never heard of a case where a user's privacy has been compromised from purchasing digital content.

"I was shuddering as I was reading this report because I'm not aware of any company that sells digital media that sells their data to third parties," Levy said. "If you look at iTunes who've sold a couple of billion tracks, I don't think anyone's ever complained that somebody contacted them offering a promotion that they weren't opted in on. It's not in the best interest of companies selling this digital media to sell their data to third parties, because it's really all about the customer and you don't want an outside party to have access to that."

Another major concern from the study dealt with the collection of IP addresses by DRM tools, including tracking technologies such as cookies and pixel tags.

CIPPIC said many organizations take the stance that IP addresses do not constitute "personal information" under Canadian privacy laws and can therefore be freely collected, used and disclosed.

However, a number of Canadian courts, as well as the privacy commissioner, have released decisions that interpret IP addresses as personal information, Fewer said.

"The truth of the matter is that IP addresses are being used to link back to identifiable individuals and they should be treated as private information," Fewer said. "And this should make sense to a lot of these organizations. Sony BMG, who have said that IP addresses are not personal information, are suing people in the file sharing lawsuits on the basis of IP addresses and linking them to activities.

They are actually asking the court to disclose people's identities based on the IP address."

From Levy's perspective, however, this debate is not related to DRM at all. He said that everybody uses common Web code and scripting to collect data about users and that is not at the heart of what DRM is about.

"DRM systems themselves do not invade privacy, as all it really does is encrypt a piece of media and issue a licence for it," Levy said. "Of course, there are other processes around that which are kind of linked to the DRM system that involve collecting data, but those systems have been in place on the Web for awhile and for some reason their remote attachment to DRM is what everybody is sensitive about."

While this issue is still being debated in many countries, Levy weighed in saying that unlike telephone numbers, which users can take around with them, IP addresses are not owned by the user. He said that users are buying access to an Internet connection. He also said that because IP addresses can be spoofed and faked, equating them to individuals can be quite difficult.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Rafael Ruffolo

ComputerWorld Canada
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?