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EU joins digital rights debate

The European Union has issued a draft document on the implications of the spread of digital rights management (DRM), which is often used to protect copyrighted material such as software and entertainment assets.

The EU’s advisory body on data protection and privacy is specifically concerned about the way that digital rights management (DRM) can be combined with digital watermarks tags to identify individuals and thus track people unfairly or unnecessarily, CNET reported.

According to the EU’s recently released “working document on data protection issues related to intellectual property rights,” new technologies to identify or trace people “are being established at the level of exchange of information as well as at the platform level.”

The public has until March 31 to comment on the document.

The working document adds that where information is exchanged over the Internet, more and more digital watermarks tags are being used to track people and their preferences — for example, when a music track is purchased online, the purchaser has to enter account information and a unique identifier. That information — identity and musical taste — is then used in some cases to target marketing campaigns.

“Electronic copyright management systems (ECMS) are being devised and offered which could lead to ubiquitous surveillance of users by digital works,” according to the document. “Some ECMS are monitoring every single act of reading, listening and viewing on the Internet by individual users thereby collecting highly sensitive information about the data subject concerned.”

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