Recommended: “Lockdown: The coming war on general-purpose computing”
A fantastic essay by Corey Doctorow over at Boing Boing all about the rise of DRM and the future of general purpose computing. The entire essay is grand, but I think this paragraph sums it up best.
We don’t know how to build a general-purpose computer that is capable of running any program except for some program that we don’t like, is prohibited by law, or which loses us money. The closest approximation that we have to this is a computer with spyware: a computer on which remote parties set policies without the computer user’s knowledge, or over the objection of the computer’s owner. Digital rights management always converges on malware.
In an effort to stamp out piracy, we are stamping out legitimate fair-use rights, and accepting invasions of privacy by corporations in a way that also happens to dovetail nicely with the intelligence gathering goals of governments everywhere.
I don’t mean to sound too much like a conspiracy theory-loving whack job here. But the fact is that the same software that enables corporations to manage their intellectual property or make a profit on targeted advertising also makes it easier to spy on citizens. I’ll refer you to Evgeny Morozov’s enlightening, yet sobering book on this very subject, The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom (of which I have read about half thus far).
[h/t: Ben Ramsey]