Why Google's Copy Protection Raises Privacy Issues

from the tradeoffs dept

We've already noted our concerns about Google's decision to create their own copy protection scheme. Beyond the incompatibility issue (which is a big one), it also raises questions about security and privacy, as copy protection schemes, by their very nature have tradeoffs when it comes to privacy and security. Ed Felten is digging into Google's copy protection and believes that the company made some bad choices concerning your privacy. Basically, of the options they had for setting up the copy protection, the one they chose is the one that stores the most amount of information -- basically, who you are, what you're watching and when you're watching it. Because the system calls home to Google every time you want to watch a video you purchased, they basically have a complete record of your viewing habits. While it's nice that, so far, Google is willing to go out of its way to protect the data they have on you from your friendly government officials, that doesn't mean they'll always be able to. It should, however, reinforce the questions people should be asking about just how much they trust Google.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    ZOMG CENSORED, Jan 20th, 2006 @ 12:40pm

    What's the real problem?

    While google's call home operation shouldn't be a real issue (you're watching legal material, aren't you?) what really disturbs me is the fact that, as was stated, the Gov't is on their backs about releasing data. If this should happen, that basically entitles the US Gov't access to all this info.

    What concerns me the most of that is you could be from another country and your information is easily obtainable by another country's Gov't while you're deprived of your right to privacy as provided by your Gov't. (At least from what I understood).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Rikko, Jan 20th, 2006 @ 2:05pm

    Re: What's the real problem?

    I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that *anything* that calls home is at least a piss off and at most an invasion of privacy.

    I bought it. Let them be happy with that. What and when I watch it is now my business.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Marc Michaels, Jan 20th, 2006 @ 2:06pm

    Re: What's the real problem?

    Man...no matter what the article, we just have to blame our government for everything. This article highlights poor privacy management by GOOGLE, but here we come with the slams on the government.
    You're ok with Google collecting private info about what is watched by who and when, because "you're watching legal material, aren't you". But you can't wait to slam the government, when essentially the same argument can be made...."you're watching legal material, aren't you".
    I don't mean this to be a "flame" or anything. I respect opinions on all sides. I think you're right about not wanting the govt to access the info. I just can't believe how many anti-government posts have been hitting the site lately. Seems like anything negative in an article can be stretched to build up an attack on the President.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 20th, 2006 @ 2:15pm

    No Subject Given

    You can't watch any content purchased from Google while offline?

    If true, that seems like it would make it DOA.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    dorpus, Jan 20th, 2006 @ 2:49pm

    Privacy of Entrepreneurs?

    Horiemon, the Japanese businessman who started the Google-like "livedoor" business, caused widespread economic panic when his assistant commited suicide yesterday. Horiemon has now barricaded himself inside his office, refusing to go home, because people are "plotting to kill him".


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anthony, Jan 20th, 2006 @ 3:50pm

    Re: What's the real problem?

    Google's goal is to "organize the world's information". You don't think the government will have a hand in this?

    The digitalization of information has countless benefits, but it could also lead to a tightly controlled society.

    It's only a matter of time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Mark, Jan 20th, 2006 @ 3:50pm

    Re: What's the real problem?

    Read the news Marc. Is it not the government that is currently taking google in front of a federal judge to force them to give up information they have? And do you really believe that if sucessful with this, they will stop with demanding only generic information? Come on... If the kettle is black, calling it something else is just dumb.
    And no where in this article do I see a mention of the President. But once again, it seems to me anyway that he is indeed the ringmaster of that circus. So like they say, don't piss down my leg...well, you know the rest.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    gmoney, Jan 20th, 2006 @ 4:56pm

    Re: What's the real problem?

    Bush is at it again. Lets just spy on every American any way we can. Telephone, email, www,
    whats next? Why dont they put a video camera in evry home, parking lot, store, anywhere and everywhere that way we can track everybody all the time. Oh yeah and why dont we implant a computer chip into your body so we can know your location at all times and where you have been.

    F__ the communist republican nazi government

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    THe SySTeM, Jan 20th, 2006 @ 5:21pm

    Re: What's the real problem?

    haha the goverment has been at it always why do you think we got Social Security Numbers that are every thing to us, well at least we get a card unlike the nazi's that just tatooed it into those they opressed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    inside sources, Jan 20th, 2006 @ 7:06pm

    No Subject Given

    I must say that yes google may be stepping a little to far but think about it a second, yes make a big deal about google collecting info on you, but thats what Microsoft does maybe not as much but microsft products suck compared to google products. The point is that google is not big and bad like microsoft and actually stands up for the public, and if not for google, this privacy thing (big brother) could be getting a hole lot worse. And google is not stupid by any means they use this information to make your searches better and products better and etc.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    dietrich, Jan 20th, 2006 @ 7:55pm

    Re: What's the real problem?

    While google's call home operation shouldn't be a real issue (you're watching legal material, aren't you?)...

    January 15, 1920 - You're a pub owner selling beer, minding your own business, nobody bothers you. January 16, 1920 - You have a history of criminal activity which the feds use to raid your building, destroy your property and put you in jail while they "investigate" whether you've violated the 18th Amendment.

    Moral: laws change. Be wary of anyone who keeps records on you -- whether what you do is "legal" (right now) or not.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    DanTheMan, Jan 20th, 2006 @ 9:26pm

    Google Privacy

    Be that as it may... BlockBuster has been doing that for years... Do you think your cable-TV provider, or dish network provider is doing ANYTHING different?? Short or moving to the Montana or Alaska wilderness, these issues are here to stay.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Brian Bartlett, Jan 20th, 2006 @ 11:30pm

    Don't forget the Patriot Act

    As I recall, under the Patriot Act Google would have no choice but to turn over the data collected on your viewing habits and all it would require is a letter written by the local FBI supervisor; no courts involved at all. That's not a problem here as I have no expectation of privacy (for unrelated reasons) but I think many people would have a problem. Unless the Patriot Act is revised, and there is little hope of getting a revised version (along the lines of what the Senate wants) through the House, this will stand. Google may want to rethink this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    Alexander (profile), Jan 21st, 2006 @ 4:36pm

    Re: Don't forget the Patriot Act

    At this point in time, as far as I can see, the PATRIOT Act has expired for all means and purposes.

    So, an FBI supervisor writing a letter wouldn't necessarily have the same type of impact as it did from 9/11 to the end of 2005.

    And did the PATRIOT Act really cover that kind of strong-arming? Dang, I've been out of the loop.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Bill Cosby Loves Jello, Jan 21st, 2006 @ 7:02pm

    If Google really cared

    If Google really cared. I mean really really cared about the privacy of their users, they wouldnt collect the information about their users in the first place.
    But you gotta remember that Google's bottom line is making more money, and they will accomplish that no matter the cost. By collecting your viewing habits they are able to utilize better targeted ad campaigns.
    They know eventually their information collected on users is going to be compromized. Wether it be in 2 months or 15 years. So if they really cared about peoples privacy, they wouldnt collect the information in the first place. But the financial gains outweigh the risk to its users.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    Daniel (profile), Jan 22nd, 2006 @ 9:12pm

    Re: If Google really cared

    How many people have a store card? I mean c'mon, people whinge about google's policy, what about the personalised offers you get from tesco on products you purchase regularly (or are similar to)?

    Every time you swipe your tesco store card they know where you live, what you bought, when was the last time you bought it, but who cares enough to complain? Nobody. If you don't like this you dont hand over your card at the till. People who are really that concerned about this kind of thing need to start taking responsability for their own online actions.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    jason, Jan 22nd, 2006 @ 11:24pm


    i think the tradeoffs worth it. we gotta trust someone, why not trust the one company who is actually standing up to big-brother and drawing a line in the sand for us?!? afterall weret alking about the company that is actually doing its best to stick to its promises to us....so protect away google!!!
    vive los google

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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