The Digital Media Project



G. Colyer


TRU #30 to freedom from monitoring





Greg Colyer

Affiliation/additional information:


Date submitted:



# Criteria Description
1. Name of TRU TRU to freedom from monitoring
2. Summary description of TRU The traditional right to use personal property without any reference to another authority. The freedom not to be observed whilst doing so, or to have one's usage recorded or tracked.
3. Use records of TRU After purchasing a book [audio CD, video], no further communication with the publisher takes place on reading [listening, watching]. This is clearly related to privacy, but also underpins other TRUs such as the TRU to annotate for personal use (e.g. write marginal notes in a book) and the TRUs to time- and space-shift. Because the control over a book [audio CD, video] is determined solely by physical access to it, these other TRUs were inherently possible and not practically preventable.
4.  Nature of TRU Customary, but may now be explicitly supported (to some extent) by human rights and/or data-protection legislation. Also legally supported in the sense that reading books [listening to audio CDs, watching videos] is totally outside the scope of copyright law because no copying is involved.
5. Benefits of TRU All users may benefit; no-one is obviously negatively affected by this right per se.
6. Possible digital support Digital support would be easy! The problem is that it might impact other functionalities. Therefore this TRU may not be supportable in all digital contexts to the traditional extent. The underlying legal situation is also different because in many jurisdictions almost any digital use currently constitutes copying (e.g. from disk into memory). Note that this distinction in law may have arisen partly because of the greater ease of monitoring digital transactions.
7. Requirements Methods using offline verification (e.g. checking an inline digital signature) should be able to support this TRU completely. However, any client-server method would probably violate it to some extent; the properties of the client-server connection alone would reveal some information about the end-user. "Anonymity" could dissociate the personal identity of the user from the client-server interaction. "Tracking" would be monitoring that could be linked from session to session, and this could be inhibited by lower-level anonymity. But no form of anonymity is likely to be perfect, and in any case the TRU is partly an issue of principle.
8. References