RealTime IT News

Singapore Gets Asia's 1st Secure 3rd-party Digital Distribution

With the establishment of a partnership between Singapore Network Services Pte Ltd. (SNS) and the UK's TrustMarque International Ltd., Asia's first third-party service for the secure electronic distribution of digital intellectual property is available in Singapore.

Instead of going physically to the store to buy a CD, book, or software, this service gives the buyer a choice of downloading what he or she wants to get over the Internet.

Digital content such as software, documents, images, audio, and video housed with the content host can be delivered over any network and on CD/DVD-ROMs, PCs, or any storage media.

In this agreement, SNS is the digital content host for Asia and TrustMarque, allegedly the first to offer the third party secure service in the UK, is the European host.

SNS is using TrustMarque's third-party technology called Bag of Bits (BOB) to digitally wrap and encrypt a publisher's product.

This secure package supposedly cannot be unlocked and installed until the transaction is authorized. When payment is received, SNS will issue a key to the buyer to unlock the product that has been encrypted on behalf of the publisher.

The whole transaction is executed on a Secure Electronic Transaction (SET) enabled, multi-currency credit card payment system.

Besides offering secure electronic distribution and transaction processing, SNS also provides intellectual property rights (IPR) management to the business and consumer markets.

"SNS in partnership with TrustMarque will ensure that the IPR rights of the distributor are protected and that copies of the CD and software which are downloaded cannot be copied in an unauthorized manner," said Pearleen Chan, managing director of SNS.

SNS maintains the end user license agreement (EULA) for electronic software delivery (or rights management for electronic document delivery) using the BOB technology.

Currently, these trusted third-party services are only available in Singapore. SNS will extend them to the company's regional partners throughout Asia, South Africa, and Australasia later this year, said Chan.

"It will cost a publisher S$3 to S$12 per transaction for using the service depending on the requirements," said Michael Lim, director of finance for SNS.

The minimum package includes a SET-enabled, multi-currency payment system. The maximum package includes this payment system, encryption, fraud check, and business rules applications such as a time bomb on the software, Lim said.

"There is a 15 to 50 per cent cost savings for publishers and software vendors," said Dr John Williams, managing director of TrustMarque. "These are savings from packaging and printing costs."

"Electronic commerce resulting in the delivery of digital goods is really what the Internet is built for," said Michael Yap, deputy chief executive of the National Computer Board.

"The Internet is a natural, low-cost distribution channel for digital products, but it needs a robust information protection mechanism to ensure rights protection and security," continued Yap. "We encourage industry-led initiatives, such as the partnership between SNS and TrustMarque, in developing a regional digital distribution center to provide these trust and rights management services."

Forrester Research predicted that by 2002, 50 per cent of software worth US$8 billion will be delivered electronically through these emerging electronic distribution channels.