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posted by CoolHand on Wednesday December 30 2015, @02:02AM   Printer-friendly
from the iot-should-be-doa dept.

Bruce Schneier writes in The Atlantic:

In theory, the Internet of Things—the connected network of tiny computers inside home appliances, household objects, even clothing—promises to make your life easier and your work more efficient. These computers will communicate with each other and the Internet in homes and public spaces, collecting data about their environment and making changes based on the information they receive. In theory, connected sensors will anticipate your needs, saving you time, money, and energy.

Except when the companies that make these connected objects act in a way that runs counter to the consumer's best interests...

After giving examples of the Philips Hue light bulb and Keurig coffee pod DRM issues, Schneier explains how these companies rely on the anti-circumvention provision of the DMCA law to stop competitors from reverse-engineering proprietary standards. He continues:

Because companies can enforce anti-competitive behavior this way, there's a litany of things that just don't exist, even though they would make life easier for consumers in significant ways. You can't have custom software for your cochlear implant, or your programmable thermostat, or your computer-enabled Barbie doll.

[...] As the Internet of Things becomes more prevalent, so too will this kind of anti-competitive behavior—which undercuts the purpose of having smart objects in the first place.

[...] We can't have this when companies can cut off compatible products, or use the law to prevent competitors from reverse-engineering their products to ensure compatibility across brands. For the Internet of Things to provide any value, what we need is a world that looks like the automotive industry, where you can go to a store and buy replacement parts made by a wide variety of different manufacturers. Instead, the Internet of Things is on track to become a battleground of competing standards, as companies try to build monopolies by locking each other out.

Related:
Keurig Cup DRM cracked
Philips Backs Down Over Light Bulb DRM


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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Non Sequor on Wednesday December 30 2015, @02:57AM

    by Non Sequor (1005) on Wednesday December 30 2015, @02:57AM (#282345) Journal

    Philips Hue has a publicly available API and IFTTT, for example, can bridge that API to about 300 other APIs. Philips' position here is that they want to maintain a programmable interface as a marketing technique for selling lightbulbs.

    A lot of people here will loathe that argument. However, this is a democracy and a whole lot of people who don't have any skin in this game are going to think that Philips' position is reasonable. If we were to set up a debate on the topic, I could probably give Schneier 15 minutes to outline his argument, and a Philips representative 1 minute, and I'll bet you that the majority will side with Philips.

    What that means in practical terms is that you have virtually no hope of using this line of argument to gather popular support to repeal the DMCA anti-circumvention provisions. What is for some people an intolerable restriction, is no big deal for others.

    Because of that, the idea that repurposing and adapting ideas is something that should be encouraged for its own sake is marginalized. We have copyleft and piracy ecosystems, but the ideas developed in these ecosystems aren't circulating into the legal system.

    However, a quid-pro-quo modification to the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA whereby anti-circumvention protection is only available to providers that provide certain facilities for fair use and interoperability might be something that has more traction with the public.

    --
    Write your congressman. Tell him he sucks.
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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 30 2015, @03:16AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 30 2015, @03:16AM (#282357)

    That's all right then. As long as the majority sides with the corporation, the DMCA must be cool.

    Maybe if everyone thinks it's cool, we can re-up the Steamboat Willy copyright too?

    • (Score: 2) by fido_dogstoyevsky on Wednesday December 30 2015, @03:43AM

      by fido_dogstoyevsky (131) <reversethis-{moc.liamg} {ta} {eldnahexa}> on Wednesday December 30 2015, @03:43AM (#282367)

      Maybe if everyone thinks it's cool, we can re-up the Steamboat Willy copyright too?

      I thought that happened automatically?

      --
      It's NOT a conspiracy... it's a plot.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 30 2015, @04:05AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 30 2015, @04:05AM (#282372)

        Maybe if everyone thinks it's cool, we can re-up the Steamboat Willy copyright too?

        I thought that happened automatically?

        Nope, the checks have to clear first.

    • (Score: 2) by Non Sequor on Wednesday December 30 2015, @04:08AM

      by Non Sequor (1005) on Wednesday December 30 2015, @04:08AM (#282374) Journal

      That's all right then. As long as the majority sides with the corporation, the DMCA must be cool.

      Right or wrong, democracy is the reality that you always have two options: coexist with other people's opinions or don't. I'm not saying you can't ever play the "don't" side of the spectrum, but if that ends up being your strategy for every problem, there's probably something wrong with you.

      Maybe if everyone thinks it's cool, we can re-up the Steamboat Willy copyright too?

      We failed to prevent the last extension, what that means is that we need to better develop the arguments against it and better convince people that it's not cool.

      --
      Write your congressman. Tell him he sucks.
      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anal Pumpernickel on Wednesday December 30 2015, @04:35AM

        by Anal Pumpernickel (776) on Wednesday December 30 2015, @04:35AM (#282379)

        That's going to be difficult when so many people are either apathetic about or fundamentally opposed to freedom.