Forget ISPs, your PC should snitch

February 8, 2008 // 8:42 a.m.

Tags: #filtering #mpaa #riaa

We all know that the RIAA is dying to figure out what everyone is sharing on their multi-megabit broadband lines. So far they've relied on shady information gathering firms such as MediaSentry to snoop around BitTorrent traffic and bludgeoning ISPs with legal threats to get them to roll over and play dead. But this isn't enough, says head honcho Cary Sherman. According to him, it's time for your PC to turn traitor.

Sherman has previously stated that he doesn't see the need for mandatory filtering at an ISP level, although he's got nothing against voluntary filtering to prevent the sharing of copyright materials. He knows that with pretty much every major BitTorrent and NNTP client supporting encryption such measures are doomed to failure. To circumvent this, Sherman would like to see filtering done on your PC.

In a panel at a tech conference in Washington DC, Sherman let slip his hopes for “a filter on the end user's computer that would actually eliminate any benefit from encryption because if you want to hear [the downloaded music], you would need to decrypt it, and at that point the filter would work.

Realising that nobody would voluntarily install such software on their systems, Sherman goes on to propose adding the filtering to anti-virus software – something most Windows users rely on on the Big Bad Internet. If that isn't possible, he'd like the OS vendors to build it right in to the operating system itself – and let's face it, the companies behind desktop operating systems have a tendency to capitulate to the demands of Big Business: just look at Vista's DRM model.

Nothing Sherman said during the panel should be taken as an official stance by the RIAA, but it certainly shows the thought processes behind its leading force. To paraphrase Bill Gates, “A stool pigeon in every home, and Windows on every stool pigeon.

Should the RIAA et al keep their noses out of your PC, or is it a small price to pay for keeping the poor artists fed? Give us your opinion on Sherman's dreams over in the forums.

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