October 13, 2003

SunnComm exemplifies threat to disclosers of abusable technologies

Alex Halderman, a graduate student at Princeton, recently showed that SunnComm's technology to limit distribution of digital songs could be broken by holding down the shift key. SunnComm claimed that Halderman did not have the right to publish a paper describing this nor to give it to reporters. They threatened to sue Halderman but backed down when receiving thousands of email protests. This is a scary demonstration of the challenges that we face in bringing abusable technologies to light. SunnComm is shortsighted in not realizing that the public disclosure of such security problems is the best mechanism for ensuring that ultimate products are secure. After all, as a result of Halderman's discovery, people will not be using the shift key to steal music. There is great danger in the DMCA enabling companies like SunnComm to intimidate researchers. Posted by Avi Rubin at October 13, 2003 08:23 AM