One of the most popular digital image formats, JPEG, may soon have DRM added to it.
The Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG), responsible for managing still image coding standards, has signaled it is investigating the possibility of adding a DRM standard to JPEG files.
The DRM standard would allow authors to limit access to JPEG files by user, number of views or downloads, location and other criteria.
While the addition of DRM to a previously DRM-free format could lead to a backlash from Internet users, especially if the DRM is used for commercial purposes such as preventing copying or to enforce a payment system for viewing images, the JPEG committee however says the addition would be for privacy and security reasons mainly.
The group states that:
"The JPEG committee investigates solutions to assure privacy and security when sharing photos on social networks, (stock) photography databases, etc. JPEG Privacy & Security will provide new functionality to JPEG encoded images such as ensuring privacy, maintaining data integrity, and protecting intellectual rights, while maintaining backwards and forward compatibility to existing JPEG legacy solutions."
One potential non commercial application for access control could be to prevent unauthorized viewing of private images, such as images shared on social media. It can also be used to prevent surveillance by government agencies.