Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Help CNN (and others) stream using your PC

A friend forwarded this article to me, Watch a live video, share your PC with CNN and after I had read it I immediately voiced concerns over security and the ethics of the implementation.

Basically CNN uses a peer to peer (P2P) networking application called Octoshape Grid Delivery that uses your PC to feed other viewers using the software. The issue in a nutshell is that (directly from the article):
Web surfers who visit CNN.com and select a live video stream for the first time see in their browsers a dialog box, shown in Figure 1, saying, "This site requires the Octoshape Grid Delivery enhancement for Adobe Flash Player." The dialog box doesn't appear when playing an ordinary video file, only when starting a live feed. (Feeds labeled LIVE typically appear in the upper-right corner of CNN.com's home page during business hours.)
Yet, you can still watch the video without the P2P software. Therein lies the rub, shouldn't they tell you that your experience will be enhanced by installing this software and that your PC and will be used to stream the video to others? In my opinion, software companies need to make sure that they openly disclose what the software does and the resources it uses.

I think most software vendors are guilty of non-disclosure. Apple with iTunes, at least in my opinion, did not make the Bonjour service clear, and Microsoft did not make it clear that Windows Media sharing was being enabled.

It really comes down to ethics. What are you doing with my resources and do you make it easy for me to understand and disable if I don't like it?

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