December 3, 2005

SONY’S DRM-SPYWARE — not just bad for business and consumers, but bad for national security:

A high-ranking Bush administration official weighed in Thursday on anti-piracy efforts domestically and abroad, indirectly chastising Sony BMG Music Entertainment for its digital rights management (DRM) software, which computer security analysis say uses tactics typically employed by virus writers to hide its components and resist their removal. . . .

Seated on a panel that featured entertainment and technology executives Mitch Bainwol, chairman and chief executive of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), as well as Susan Mann, director of intellectual property policy for Microsoft, Baker wrapped up his opening comments with the following admonition for the industry:

“I wanted to raise one point of caution as we go forward, because we are also responsible for maintaining the security of the information infrastructure of the United States and making sure peoples’ [and] businesses’ computers are secure. … There’s been a lot of publicity recently about tactics used in pursuing protection for music and DVD CDs in which questions have been raised about whether the protection measures install hidden files on peoples’ computers that even the system administrators can’t find.”

In a remark clearly aimed directly at Sony and other labels, Stewart continued: “It’s very important to remember that it’s your intellectual property — it’s not your computer. And in the pursuit of protection of intellectual property, it’s important not to defeat or undermine the security measures that people need to adopt in these days.

“If we have an avian flu outbreak here and it is even half as bad as the 1918 flu, we will be enormously dependent on being able to get remote access for a large number of people, and keeping the infrastructure functioning is going to be a matter of life and death and we take it very seriously.”

It’s the new Assistant Secretary for Policy at the Department of Homeland Security, Stewart Baker. Follow the link for video. And I love that line: “It’s your intellectual property — it’s not your computer.” People need to be reminded of that.

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