Command Line

A blog and podcast exploring the rough edges where society, public policy and computers meet.

EFF Call to Action on NBC, Microsoft Broadcast Flag “Mistake”

Posted by Thomas Gideon on June 1, 2008

The official response from both companies is highly unsatisfactory. The questions around why Microsoft chose to make Windows MCE compliant with the over-the-air broadcast flag remain unanswered despite the EFF’s victory in the case that allows all device manufacturers to effectively ignore the flag.

In the spirit of hacktivism, the EFF posted a request for help in getting to the bottom of Windows MCE’s real behavior in the presence of the broadcast flag. They are looking to capture actually ATSC stream data, not just screen captures of the recording error. There are detailed instructions for users who use HTHomeRune alongside a Windows MCE system.

Success in this endeavor will require another “mistake” by NBC which makes me a bit skeptical. At least in the near term, the broadcaster is likely to stay on its toes and behave. If you have the required pieces to help the EFF, bookmark the story and try to keep it top of mind in the coming months. The EFF has been successful with similar collective hacking investigations in the past. If they are able to reproduce that success in this case, it could tell us a lot about what really happened in the first case and arm consumers on how to better protect their rights to time shift.

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