Ottawa (ON) – Digital rights management (DRM) technology used in computer software and handheld devices may actually be illegal in Canada, according to a study from a public interest group.
The technology is mostly taken for granted now, but the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) says it is a violation of the country’s privacy laws.
“In the Canadian marketplace we’ve found that there is simply widespread noncompliance of PIPEDA (Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act),” said the report. PIPEDA mandates certain stipulations that must be put into place if an electronic source receives any kind of personal information from users.
The CIPPIC says that DRM software collects these kinds of data from users and disseminates it to third parties without giving the users the option of opting out of this procedure. The group also claimed that companies using DRM technology do not give adequate disclosure of this policy to the end user.
“If there’s personal information collection use or disclosure going on, there has to be consent and the form of consent has to be appropriate to the circumstances,” said the study’s lead investigator David Fewer.
One example described in the report is Intuit’s QuickTax software. According to the CIPPIC, the DRM platform in QuickTax causes it to send Canadian residents’ information to US officials, and there is no disclosure about that up front.
Christopher Levy, CEO of DRM Solutions, however, says the report is grossly misrepresented. “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,” he was quoted as saying. “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 mobile phone.”