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Wednesday, May 2, 2007
May Day revolution
... online, anyway.
A particular string of hexidecimal numbers -- TEXT REMOVED -- appeared, seemingly everywhere at once, yesterday, in the blogosphere. Ethan Zuckerman, a friend and former colleague of mine who is currently affiliated with Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, explained the numbers' significance on his blog today. Zuckerman says:
The string in question is the "processing key" that can be used to unlock the encryption on HD DVD discs protected by the AACS (Advanced Access Content System) digital rights management system.
The key has been available online for several months, but unless you are a DVD hacker, it's unlikely that you've ever seen it before. So what happened? On Monday, AACS LA, the consortium responsible for the encryption standard, started sending cease and desist notices to websites on which the string had been posted. (Including websites whose content is user-generated, like Slashdot, Wikipedia, and Digg.) As Zuckerman notes, "The cease and desist letters backfired, in a big way. Searching for the key on Google [as of today, Wednesday] reveals 320,000 pages that contain the code."
In order to thwart the efforts of AACS LA, some hackers have taken to hiding the processing key in graphics and photos, like this one from Flickr:
Pretty sneaky, sis!
UPDATE: Learn more about steganography.
UPDATE: What do Brainiac readers think of this blog post? Find out here.