[Politech] Microsoft offers "self destructing documents"

From: Declan McCullagh (declan@private)
Date: Tue Oct 28 2003 - 06:20:01 PST

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    Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2003 02:05:53 -0700
    To: dave@private, declan@private
    From: Tim Bishop <geodog@private>
    Subject: Microsoft offers self destructing documents
    Dave and Declan,
    For IP and/or  Politech, if you want.
    While I suspect that people will quickly figure out how to break this first 
    generation DRM with the equivalent of a magic marker or using the shift 
    key, and of course the expired documents will still be on the (Windows) 
    server, this is probably a pretty good indicator of where governments and 
    corporations are headed, and Microsoft has a history of successfully 
    iterating products. While others debate DRM, Microsoft is creating facts on 
    the ground. Not an encouraging development.
    Tim Bishop
    email mailto://geodog@private
    opinions http://geodog.thebishop.net/
    news links http://www.midnightblog.com/
    "It ain't what you don't know that gets you, it's the things you know that 
    ain't so"
    -- Mark Twain
    Microsoft offers 'self destructing' documents
    14:50 21 October 03
    The latest version of Microsoft's hugely successful Office software suite 
    launches on Tuesday, with its most eye-catching feature a new ability to 
    make documents and emails "self-destruct".
    Experts say the feature should act as a barrier against sensitive 
    information being copied or leaked, but they say it is unlikely to stop any 
    determined attempt.
    Office 2003 features new versions of Word, Outlook, Excel and PowerPoint, 
    along with various usability tweaks and new functionality. But the software 
    also comes with the ability to let users control the way other people use 
    the documents they create. This can be used to prevent other people 
    forwarding, copying or even printing a protected email message or document.
    "It should work," says Simson Garfinkel, a computer forensics expert at 
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). "But it could be defeated by a 
    hostile user. There's no way you could prevent someone from taking a 
    digital picture of the screen."
    Garfinkel told New Scientist that the problem is similar to the one faced 
    when trying to develop copy-protected music formats. Even the most tightly 
    controlled music can be recorded as it is played through a speaker, a 
    problem referred to as "the analogue hole".
    Time stamp
    The rights control feature in Office 2003 depends on having an intermediary 
    computer system with Windows Server 2003 and a software package called 
    Rights Management Service installed.
    A protected email message sent between two users is encrypted and the 
    recipient's version of Outlook will check with the server to see if the 
    user is allowed to edit, copy or forward the message. A time-stamp can also 
    be applied to make the message unreadable after a certain date.
    Other documents that can be stored on a user's machine, such as Word files, 
    are encrypted in order to control access. Each user's version of Word will 
    access the central server to determine how that person is allowed to use 
    the document.
    Some have raised concerns that automatically deleting email messages and 
    documents could cause legal problems with, for example, financial 
    regulators who demand by law that all company records are kept.
    But Microsoft says the new feature is not designed to remove all traces of 
    a file. "The message will still be in various places," says Mike 
    Pryke-Smith, marketing manager for Microsoft's Information Worker Group in 
    the UK. He says the functionality is more about enforcing company policy. 
    "Right now you can put 'confidential' on a document, but that's all."
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