Comments to House of Commons Warn About Regulation

London - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has filed comments with the Department of Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) in the British House of Commons about plans for digital television broadcasting in Europe. In comments submitted last week, EFF expressed concern that switching off analog broadcasts could result in new digital television standards that unduly restrict the public and manufacturers.

The Digital Video Broadcasting Project (DVB) -- a group that creates standards for digital television in Europe, Australia, and much of Asia -- has proposed a complex system for restricting digital broadcast programming after reception, analogous to the disastrous broadcast flag proposal in the United States. This system, called "Content Protection Copy Management" (CPCM), has been under discussion since 2003.

The CPCM restrictions include an "authorized domain" governing the number of devices that can use content and a myriad of broadcast flags that will restrict usage, recording, and storage. They also specify compliance rules for all manufacturers. As with the US broadcast flag proposal, these compliance rules would result in a ban on the use of free and open source software in connection with digital TV reception and usage.

"The DVB broadcast flag is much more sweeping than the one they tried for in America," said Cory Doctorow, EFF's European Affairs Coordinator, who attends the standards-specifying meetings on behalf of manufacturers who use free and open source software in their products. "The North American Broadcasters' Association has threatened to turn this into a global regulatory mandate. If that comes to pass, you'll never know which TV shows your devices can record or whether a new device will be allowed onto your home network. Additionally, this will give a veto over technology to entertainment companies, who've already ruled out open source because it lets users modify their own equipment."

EFF believes that a European broadcast flag would also be used to gain political leverage to argue again for a broadcast flag in the United States.

For EFF's full comments submitted to the British House of Commons:

One-page summary:

For EFF's action alert on the US broadcast flag:


Cory Doctorow
European Affairs Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation