How far will the entertainment industry go to combat online piracy? A new report from the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property proposes using malware -- in this case, a Trojan computer virus -- to monitor the content you access through your computer. If it detects that you download, host or consume copyrighted content without paying for it, the malware will lock down the files and your entire computer. To unlock the computer, you have to turn yourself in and pay for the crime.
The proposal comes from a 90-page report from a commission on intellectual property theft. The following is the selection that proposes the malware, and the entire report can be found here.
If an unauthorized person accesses the information, a range of actions might then occur. For example, the file could be rendered inaccessible and the unauthorized user’s computer could be locked down, with instructions on how to contact law enforcement to get the password needed to unlock the account. Such measures do not violate existing laws on the use of the Internet, yet they serve to blunt attacks and stabilize a cyber incident to provide both time and evidence for law enforcement to become involved.
Although it wouldn’t surprise many that entertainment industries would consider employing measures used by governments around the world to track political dissidents, it’s unlikely that this could happen. First, it seems next to impossible to get this program installed on every computer in the world and run undetected. Second, courts have already struck down proposals from the FBI to use malware to track suspects.
What do you think of this proposal? A necessary way to combat online piracy, or a complete invasion of privacy? Let us know in the comments section.