Secret Watermarking Standard Congress May Require Sucks By Its Own Measures
from the doesn't-look-good dept
No wonder the company that makes the VEIL watermarking technology that’s included in the “analog hole” bill don’t want anyone to know the details of the technology. Even by its own measures, that watermarking technology sucks. Following Ed Felten pointing out the problematic nature of the secrecy around the offering, the company offered to release an executive summary its own test results to show how good the technology is. Beyond the obvious bias (and the fact that it’s only an exec summary without any real details), there’s an even bigger problem here. Ed Felten looks through the exec summary and notes that, even when the tests are set by the company, the watermarking technology appears to be awful. First, one of the keys to any watermarking technology is that it shouldn’t mess with the content in a noticeable way. However, 29% of people did notice a difference in the watermarked versions. Even more important is that there are, clearly, ways to remove the watermark. While they won’t say how, even the company admits that one method was successful 58% of the time — and, as Felten points out, these are tests the company did themselves, which tend to downplay the real vulnerabilities. In other words, a big part of the reason why the company doesn’t seem to want to detail the spec (that would be required by law if the bill passes) is because even it knows that it sucks.