THE ELECTRONIC Frontier Foundation (EFF) has confirmed that it is to leave the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C) in protest at the decision to standardise the Encrypted Media Extension (EME) form of Digital Rights Management (DRM).
As we reported back in July, the decision to create an EME-DRM standard has not gone down well in some quarters, but particularly at the EFF, which said it believed that the standard would give browser manufacturers too much power and that it does not allow enough adaptability for accessibility needs.
Now it has gone one step further by actually resigning its place. In an open letter, it goes on to further criticise the decision which was supported by parties including Worldwide Web creator Tim Berners-Lee, saying it had "squandered" an opportunity to make things right and that it would rank amongst its "greatest mistakes".
Throughout the process which has been going on since 2013, the EFF has suggested compromises to proposals put forward by W3C, but the move has gone through more or less as planned.
In resigning its place, Cory Doctorow who has represented the EFF on the W3C panel said: "So we'll keep fighting to fight to keep the web free and open. We'll keep suing the US government to overturn the laws that make DRM so toxic, and we'll keep bringing that fight to the world's legislatures that are being misled by the US Trade Representative to instigate local equivalents to America's legal mistakes.
"We will renew our work to battle the media companies that fail to adapt videos for accessibility purposes, even though the W3C squandered the perfect moment to exact a promise to protect those who are doing that work for them.
"We will defend those who are put in harm's way for blowing the whistle on defects in EME implementations.
"It is a tragedy that we will be doing that without our friends at the W3C, and with the world believing that the pioneers and creators of the web no longer care about these matters.
"Effective today, EFF is resigning from the W3C."
For his own part, Jeff Jaffe, CEO of W3C said: "I know from my conversations that many people are not satisfied with the result. EME proponents wanted a faster decision with less drama. EME critics want a protective covenant. And there is reason to respect those who want a better result. But my personal reflection is that we took the appropriate time to have a respectful debate about a complex set of issues and provide a result that will improve the web for its users.
"My main hope, though, is that whatever point-of-view people have on the EME covenant issue, that they recognize the value of the W3C community and process in arriving at a decision for an inherently contentious issue. We are in our best light when we are facilitating the debate on important issues that face the web."
Sadly, it appears that was not enough for EFF. It should be noted, however, that EME is already up and running in all major browsers, for better or worse. µ
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