W3C staff member pledges resignation if DRM is added to Web standards

Watch Harry's resignation pledge. CC BY 4.0

Since 2013, Defective by Design has been fighting Encrypted Media Extensions, a plan to add a universal DRM system to the Web. In March, as an element of this campaign, we led the first-ever protest rally at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which designs official standards for the Web. Afterwards, noted technology activists Joi Ito, Danny O'Brien, and Richard Stallman held a public roundtable to discuss the issue. After the speakers finished, the moderator, Harry Halpin (a W3C staff member), made this unexpected announcement:

"In every person's life, we're going to have to say to ourselves, I'm going to have to draw a line. It is not correct, it is the wrong thing to do, to cross this line. For me, inside W3C, that line is Encrypted Media Extensions becoming a W3C Recommendation (Recommendation is the final form of a W3C standard - Ed.)...

It is not a Recommendation. It is still a Working Draft -- it has not been officially made a W3C standard. I myself believe the Web that we want does not include DRM, and this is a responsibility to our children, that the Web they inherit should allow and enable sharing. Thus if W3C's Encrypted Media Extensions does reach Recommendation status, I will resign."

Harry's pledge adds to the pressure brought by Defective by Design, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and others against the W3C to reject Encrypted Media Extensions. You can join the protest by taking a protest selfie (a Web-native form of expression), signing the petition, or scheduling a meeting at a W3C office near you to meet with a representative about the threat of DRM in Web standards.