Digital Freedom Gets New Life Through Latest Court Ruling

Almost all of us have digital devices which we give more importance to than our own lives. We pay full price for them, which means that we should be able to use them in any way we want, but that doesn’t happen as we are penalized for jailbreaking our device, installing games from third party stores, borrowing used disc etc. However, this issue will not rise for the next three years as a new ruling has passed which says that the users’ cars, games, and phones are their own property and they should be allowed to use them in any way they want. Digital rights community has been working hard to achieve this feat and they’ve finally got what they wanted.

Car Manufacturers Involvement

Just before this ruling by the Librarian of Congress, car manufacturers – General Motors, in particular, was quite against it as they wanted to block the exemption of Class 21 in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Class 21 allows anyone to mess with the code of the vehicle that they’ve bought. GM stated that this exemption “could introduce safety and security issues as well as facilitate violation of various laws designed specifically to regulate the modern car, including emissions, fuel economy, and vehicle safety regulations.” Another car manufacturer, John Deere, stated that this exemption might allow users to listen to pirated music, audio books, or watch copyrighted movies.

People who were in favor of exemption argued that the researchers need to access the vehicles’ code so that they can find certain vulnerabilities which otherwise would have stayed hidden. This lot also argued that once the user has paid the full price, he/she must be able to do whatever they want with the product. Their case was also helped by the most recent Volkswagen scandal where vehicles’ emissions standards were not met.

Gaming and Phones

Just like cars, users pay full price for their video games and phones. Due to this reason, the users want full freedom on how they use them. A separate ruling has been made just for the video games which will allow gamers to modify their games in any way they want without any repercussions. It was argued that the laws were made so that any unlawful copying would be stopped but instead the major corporations are using it to make people their slaves. After these arguments, the ruling went in favor of the consumers as they were allowed to use most of their digital devices without fearing anything.

Jen Ellis, the vice president of community and public affairs at Rapid7, who was also campaigning for the exemptions, seemed pretty happy about decision going their causes’ way.

“This is a significant step forward for security research and acknowledges the value research plays in protecting consumers from the risk of harm. There is still more work to be done – for example, the exemption is limited in its application, and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act still presents many challenges – but this represents an important shift in the discussion around security research at the Government level. We look forward to continuing to collaborate with both Congress and the administration to build even greater understanding of, and protections for, security research.”

As mentioned in the beginning of the article that this regulation will only last for three years, and then once again, big corporations will be trying their best to get rid of it. The researchers seem to think that corporations won’t be able to do too much as digital freedom is here to stay.


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