The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which used to develop standards for the Web, has been captured by the copyright industry. In a doubly controversial vote, the W3C decided that media companies and not the user should be in control, ending their longstanding commitment to openness and the Internet’s core values. The open question is what new body web developers will choose to follow for future generations of standards.
This week, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) formally adopted Digital Restriction Measures (DRM) as part of the Web, thereby ending a policy of “the user is in control of their experience” and replacing it with “the copyright industry is in control”. The standard in question is called EME — Encrypted Media Extensions — and was pushed by all the pre-internet giants with vested pre-internet interests and Netflix.
Why is this bad? For all the reasons.
The W3C is — was — the body that defined standards for the World Wide Web, which browser developers implemented in turn into web browsers like Firefox, Chromium, Opera, and Safari. Having a third party publish the standards meant that no one browser team is in charge of standards development at the same time as they are making a browser, thereby encouraging interoperability between different browsers.
Now, having Digital Restriction Measures (DRM) as part of the Web means a number of very bad things, both principal, technical, and legal. First and foremost, on the principal level, the control of the experience has always been with the user. You don’t like a particular website’s color scheme? Turn it off. You don’t like ads? Turn them off. You’re blind? Have the page read out loud to you instead of displayed. The page scripts are annoying? Disable their scripts. The notion that the information is served, complete with