The Japanese company has filed a patent for a technology capable of blocking or limiting the performance of IPTV applications on connected televisions and streaming boxes. Problem: This solution looks way too much like spyware.
Never the last when it comes to fighting piracy, Sony has a new idea to prevent internet users from accessing illegal streams. As spotted TorrentFreak, the Japanese company has just filed a new invention with the US Patent Office. And reading the document carefully, one wonders what went through the minds of the engineers… who simply plan to spy on all the applications you install on your TV or streaming device… in order to block possible pirate IPTV streams.
Baptized ” Anti-piracy control based on a blacklist function “, the patent describes indeed, in necessarily abstruse terms, a solution which would be installed by default on electronic devices. It would be able to monitor what other programs are doing and block any pirate applications based on a “blacklist” of content.
Permanent monitoring of your activity
The application, integrated for example into the Android operating system of your television, could thus examine in real time the other programs which run on the machine. It’s written in black and white in the introduction: The monitoring application has system privileges in order to examine the code and execution of third party programs installed on the electronic device”. This software, which would logically be hidden from the user, could constantly observe network requests made by all third-party applications, such as access to a specific IP, for example.
Then, this powerful monitoring tool would compare these requests to a blacklist of IPs or URLs leading to pirated content, updated regularly on a cloud service with which it would constantly communicate. If there is a match, then it could block the execution of the IPTV application.
But Sony goes even further. And imagine more vicious scenarios, which could mislead the user and make him believe that his “pirate” app is the victim of a bug rather than an anti-piracy measure. ” The electronic device (TV, for example, editor’s note) could reduce the bandwidth allocated to the third-party application to limit content quality, increase buffering time […] Where take irregular pauses during reading. Smart, right?
A spyware that does not say its name
The program invented by Sony ticks almost all the boxes… for spyware. Like spyware, it would be able to collect and transfer data to a third party, without the user of the device being really aware of it. While possibly altering the operation of other programs installed on the machine.
Such a system could, moreover, pose thorny security problems, given that the software would have privileged access to the system, while being connected to the Internet. Badly programmed, it could quickly become a privileged target for unscrupulous hackers.
Let’s not panic right away: this invention is – for the moment – only a patent, and it is not certain, far from it, that Sony will one day integrate it into its connected televisions.
We hope so, even if Sony has, over the past decades, shown on several occasions that it does not hesitate to go to great lengths to try to curb piracy. The oldest among you may remember the XCP scandal, this rootkit who settled down quietly when we inserted certain audio CDs from Sony-BMG into a PC… in order to prohibit their copying. Or even the DRM Cinavia, integrated into the PS3, which automatically cut off the sound of pirated content. Obviously, Sony still has an overflowing imagination.