W3C responds to UNESCO concerns about Encrypted Media Extensions

6 April 2017 | Archive

screenshot of title and logos for sdbpUNESCO recently published a letter and an article about Encrypted Media Extensions. Since we didn’t have an opportunity to set the record straight with them, we are responding here.

The spirit of the letter is anchored in UNESCO’s values and the concept of Internet Universality. We agree on the concept of Internet Universality. We even believe that those who are trying to restrict movies from the Internet are violating the concept of universality by preventing certain content from being on the Web.

We note that EME does in fact provide improvements in privacy, security and accessibility over the alternatives.

  • The alternative to EME allowing interaction with copyrighted content in Web browser plugins is abandoning the Web. Without in-browser decryption ability, content providers would use their own native application, which will have much more leeway to spy on the user, and possibly infect their machine.
  • With EME, the browser can protect the user from the worst effects of the DRM system, by putting it in a processing “sandbox”, such that access to network, user’s data or machine is only permitted as allowed by the sandbox, thus offering protection against things like the root kit problems and privacy breaches we have had in the past.
  • Regarding accessibility, analysis and testing confirmed that the specification’s approach to captions, transcripts and audio description does not block access to this accessibility information. Moreover, since EME recommends that accessibility information is transmitted without any encryption, it is particularly suited (EME and accessibility) for accessible and legal fair use where accessibility is concerned – including accessibility adaptations to the video stream itself.

When UNESCO suggests that laws such as DMCA are against UN principles, we note that their colleagues at WIPO have been a motivating force behind such laws. We would urge UNESCO to use its own weight to insist that Member States’ laws on the Internet are always reasonable and proportionate and respectful of human rights. We are a technical standards organization but litigating the laws of a single country or many nations (like the WIPO treaty) is the role of legal advocates such as the EFF or UNESCO.

EFF has, as a member of the Consortium, initiated a move to get the members of the working group developing EME to agree to a covenant that they would not sue under the DMCA, but the proposal was rejected by the Members. Following that, the Consortium is considering a strawman broader Best Practices document W3C Security Disclosures and Privacy Best Practices to protect Security researchers and others from the overreach of the law. We invite the public, experts, W3C Members and interested parties to advocate and get consensus on any changes needed to better help support researchers in security and privacy.

We intend to continue to address the public discourse with an update to our March 2016 Information about W3C and Encrypted Media Extensions.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee named recipient of the ACM A.M. Turing Award

4 April 2017 | Archive

ACM turing award logopicture of Tim Berners-LeeToday, Tuesday 4 April, the ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery, named Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the Web and Director of the World Wide Web Consortium, as the recipient of the 2016 ACM A.M. Turing Award.

The Turing award is recognized as the highest distinction in Computer Science and is sometimes referred to as the “Nobel Prize of Computing.” Sir Tim is being given this award for inventing the World Wide Web, the first web browser, and the fundamental protocols and algorithms allowing the Web to scale. The Web is considered one of the most influential computing innovations in history.

Sir Tim’s development and guardianship of the building blocks of the Web, the standards upon which it is built upon, continues at W3C. Jeff Jaffe, CEO of W3C, stated: “The Web has had an immense impact on the world; transforming every part of society: how we communicate, how we learn, how we acquire information, and how we engage in commerce. Tim’s soaring vision of what was possible in the world is anchored on breakthrough contributions to computing – which is what is recognized by the Turing Award.”

For more information on the award, Sir Tim, and the W3C, see the W3C press release.

First Public Working Draft: Accessibility Conformance Testing (ACT) Rules Format 1.0

6 April 2017 | Archive

Accessibility Conformance Testing (ACT) Rules Format 1.0 has been published as a First Public Working Draft. It specifies a common format for accessibility test rules, and how to write test procedures for quality assurance. It facilitates harmonization of accessibility testing approaches, and helps organizations to better document and share their testing methods. Please comment by filing GitHub issues in the WCAG ACT repository or, if this is not feasible, by email to, by 5 May 2017. More information is in the blog post WCAG Accessibility Conformance Testing (ACT); Read about the Accessibility Guidelines Working Group and the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).

Patent Advisory Group Recommends Continuing Work on Web Authentication Specification

30 March 2017 | Archive

The Web Authentication Working Group Patent Advisory Group (PAG), launched in October 2016, has published a report recommending that W3C continue work on the Web Authentication Specification. W3C launches a PAG to resolve issues in the event a patent has been disclosed that may be essential, but is not available under the W3C Royalty-Free licensing terms.

W3C Invites Implementations of WebDriver

30 March 2017 | Archive

The Browser Testing and Tools Working Group invites implementation of the Candidate Recommendation of WebDriver. WebDriver is a remote control interface that enables introspection and control of user agents. It provides a platform and language-neutral wire protocol as a way for out-of-process programs to remotely instruct the behavior of web browsers as well as a set of interfaces to discover and manipulate DOM elements in web documents and to control the behavior of a user agent. It is primarily intended to allow web authors to write tests that automate a user agent from a separate controlling process, but may also be used in such a way as to allow in-browser scripts to control a possibly separate browser.

Spatial Data on the Web Best Practices Note Published

30 March 2017 | Archive

The Spatial Data on the Web Working Group has published a Group Note of Spatial Data on the Web Best Practices. This document advises on best practices related to the publication and usage of spatial data on the Web; the use of Web technologies as they may be applied to location. The best practices are intended for practitioners, including Web developers and geospatial experts, and are compiled based on evidence of real-world application. These best practices suggest a significant change of emphasis from traditional Spatial Data Infrastructures by adopting a Linked Data approach. As location is often the common factor across multiple datasets, spatial data is an especially useful addition to the Linked Data cloud; the 5 Stars of Linked Data paradigm is promoted where relevant.

W3C Invites Implementations of Resource Timing Level 1

30 March 2017 | Archive

The Web Performance Working Group invites implementation of the Candidate Recommendation of Resource Timing Level 1. This specification defines an interface for web applications to access the complete timing information for resources in a document. User latency is an important quality benchmark for Web Applications. While JavaScript-based mechanisms can provide comprehensive instrumentation for user latency measurements within an application, in many cases, they are unable to provide a complete end-to-end latency picture. This document introduces the PerformanceResourceTiming interface to allow JavaScript mechanisms to collect complete timing information related to resources on a document. Navigation Timing 2 extends this specification to provide additional timing information associated with a navigation.

W3C Invites Implementations of Page Visibility Level 2

28 March 2017 | Archive

The Web Performance Working Group invites implementation of the Candidate Recommendation of Page Visibility Level 2. This specification defines a means to programmatically determine the visibility state of a document. This can aid in the development of resource efficient web applications.

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