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Re: Locking Document Content


From: Jukka K. Korpela
Date: Dec 23, 2003 1:06AM

On Mon, 22 Dec 2003, ED COHEN wrote:

> Offering the document, as you recommended, in a non-PDF version is
> also a good idea.

From the accessibility point of view, it is a must. PDF format is not
accessible, period. No matter what the company that makes profit out of
Acrobat might say. Of course, some PDF variants are less inaccessible than
others. PDF as the only available format for a document also makes
"normal" people's life difficult. It is frustratingly common to click on
a link to a PDF document and see IE crash, perhaps crashing Windows too,
even when using the latest version of Acrobat Reader. And only a minority
knows things well enough to know that the common statement "you need to
have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view PDF files" is not true. Besides, the
better alternatives*) are not without flaws either.
*) Including those that let the user copy data from a "copy protected"
PDF document and print a "print protected" PDF document.

> Security and accessibility need not be mutually exclusive.

Unfortunately, they are often in conflict. But so are security and
usability. It has even been said that the product of security and
usability is constant. And surely security is maximal when usability is
absolute zero, i.e. nobody can use the system at all. But what we need
is reasonable compromises and adequate measures to help people with
disabilities to overcome the difficulties created by security

Anyone who thinks that the digital documents of a public institution need
to be copy protected at any cost (or with cost as big as all the
problems of PDF-alone format) is grossly misguided. So grossly that you
probably cannot make him understand but need to overrun his clueless
decisions by contacting his superiors, perhaps presenting expert
statements by both accessibility specialists and security specialists,
or asking that such expert advice will be ordered.

> Putting the PDF & Security Issue (myth?) to rest would help us all.

Indeed. It's worse than a myth; it creates a false impression of having
done something positive with security.

Jukka "Yucca" Korpela, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/

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