Open Letter on HTML “Encrypted Media Extensions” (DRM)

Until Thursday April 27, 2017, endorsements are sought for the open letter to stop acceptance of Encrypted Media Extension as a W3C standard, which will then be conveyed to Sir Tim Berners-Lee and the W3C.

You may communicate an endorsement by means of one of the following forms, as appropriate:

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Background information - Open letter against DRM control of web browsers

We all use the Internet and the world wide web, and celebrate it for how it has equalized the information playing field. It has allowed unmediated p2p communication, and placed all content on an equal footing. Those who invented the Internet and the Web gifted it to the world so as to promote the public good. The key bodies establishing Internet standards such as the Internet Engineering Task Force and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), were similarly concerned to safeguard the Internet's core values of equality and openness. But as the Internet has evolved it has become as well, a key means for those with economic power to dominate and exploit. The various bodies now developing Internet standards are today dominated by trans-national digital corporations. Not surprising then that the new Internet/ Web standards increasingly respond to the needs of these corporations rather than of the public at large.

Inspired by demands from the big content providers, the traditional movie and broadcasting companies, corporations like Apple, Google, Microsoft and Netflix, have come together to use the W3C to develop a new web standard which allows them to gain ever more power over the cultural and economic life of humanity.

At the heart of this is the EME, a technical specification which has been developed at the World Wide Web Consortium and is now close to publication an official Recommendation of the W3C. The purpose of EME is to allow for the implementation of Digital Rights (Restrictions) Management (DRM) systems through which publishers will control what end users can do with the content they receive through the Internet.

The effect of the W3C's support of DRM is a new form of digital colonialism where a black box of computer code installed in all browsers globally will enforce U.S. Copyright laws such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act without user consent or respect for local laws. Unlike earlier web standards this undermines fundamental principles of social justice and equality of access to information as well as fundamental principles of computer security.

In response to this the Just Net Coalition has sent an open letter urging the W3C, and in particular the inventor of the WWW, Sir Tim Berners-Lee (who has veto powers at the W3C), to reject the EME.

Louis Pouzin, an inventor of key elements of the original Internet, put it thus: “Of course lobbies have financial and political means to ignore or distort standards in their products, but they want more. They need the guarantee of a reputable standard institution or outstanding individuals to boost the legalization of their marketing strategy.”

The Web is at a crossroad, and your voice is valuable to stop its enclosure. We are looking for support and endorsements for this letter, which will be conveyed to Sir Tim Berners-Lee and the W3C on April 28, 2017.