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Three new items on Digital Rights Management and Government Information

Two new documents and one news story outline the potential problems of Digital Rights Management (DRM) technologies, particularly to public information.

The New Zealand Government Principles and Policies document defines DRM this way.

“Digital rights management (DRM) is a set of technologies designed to apply and enforce persistent access restrictions to digital information, as specified by the information provider. Digital rights management can regulate the types of actions that can be done with information (for example, view, print, copy or modify) and the time frame in which that information remains accessible.”

The New Zealand principles and policies were developed “in anticipation of the growing usage of trusted computing and digital rights management technologies. The aim of the principles and policies is to ensure that the use of trusted computing and digital rights management technologies does not adversely affect the integrity (including availability and confidentiality) of government-held information or related government systems.”

Digital Rights Management (DRM) technologies when applied to any content can limit access, prevent or limit use, endanger privacy, and make preservation and long term access difficult or impossible. When applied to government information, it can endanger citizen access to and use of public information and thus should be avoided. As governments increasingly use digital technologies as the only method of distribution of public information, there is a growing potential for use of DRM for a variety of reasons deemed legitimate by information distributors. When DRM technologies are used, even if the intended use is benign, the technology can impose unintended restrictions.

The Center for Democracy and Technology addresses DRM technology issues in general. Robert Gellman puts these two documents in context and comments on them.

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


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