Today in ComputerWorld there is a story about the Government being wary about Trusted Computing and DRM protections such as those introduced in Microsoft Vista. At the same time the Government is in the process of drafting and passing legislation in the copyright ammendment bill which will legally protect DRM implementations from reverse engineering that would enable evaluation of security threats for everyone else.
"Democratic rights and obligations could be imperilled when Trusted Computing technologies and digital rights management arrive on new systems" says the manager of the State Service Commission’s e-government strategy and policy team, Hugh McPhail. This is of course not new. Both the State Services Commission and the Ministry of Economic Development have understood the significant downsides of protecting DRM technologies.
While the Government may be able to draft in protections that would enable it to do business, that will not be an option for the average New Zealand company. DRM protections will no doubt create confusion and losses when DRM keys are lost and backups become impossible to recover without them. Risks such as these have not been an issue to date, but with increasing numbers of DRM systems we may see this as a very real issue in future.
Not only will it be difficult to access data once keys are lost; it will be illegal to break DRM protection in order to access your own works. Since DRM circumvension devices will also be illegal to own no company will be able to legally circumvent without going through the trouble of having it done by their local library. Even then it is doubtfull that libraries in New Zealand are prepared for the obligations the new bill will impose.