Fighting for Control of Your Computer
Saturday, October 26, 2002
in the Melbourne's The Age discusses attempts to take control over the
software on your computer. These assaults come not from hackers but from the
music industry and corporations like
Microsoft. They come cloaked under the
Rights Management (DRM). DRM advocates wish to protect intellectual
property such as the copyrights on songs and recordings. To accomplish that,
however, the music industry would need to have direct access to your computer.
laws before congress which would grant them just that.
Though the article is a bit inflammatory, tagging DRM as "treacherous
computing," it brings up several good points. For instance, if DRM is going
to be built into every device which can access recordable media (as proposed
legislation entails), then organizations like the
Recording Industry Association of America
(RIAA) and corporations like Microsoft would be granted access to every
computer. They would need to be able to remotely read, identify and
categorize every file on your computer to determine whether or not it
matches a copyrighted song or piece of software.
Do you want these people to have access to your doctor's computer, the
computers in your local police station or even in the Pentagon? Even if
their intentions are noble (and that is certainly debatable), every piece
of software and every gateway into a computer is a potential hole to be
exploited by a hacker or irate corporate employee with an axe to grind.
The article goes on to note many of the other dangerous abuses of DRM
technology. Specifically, it cites documents that, in effect, delete
themselves or can only be viewed on certain computers. In this manner DRM
has the potential to eliminate any paper trail and, thus, any trace of guilt
in situations such as the Enron debacle.
Unfortunately, very few people understand the technologies involved, much
less the potential repercussions of the laws which would seek to make such
technologies mandatory. Nevertheless, backed by such powerful organizations
as the RIAA, DRM legislation stands a very good chance of becoming law.