(Photo credits: bejealousofme)
One of the less frequently talked about drawbacks of DRM is the possible impact of DRM on the end-users privacy. The purpose of DRM is to restrict the illegal copying or use of copyright works. In order to achieve this goal, some DRM technologies require authentications and force the user to identify himself in order to access the digital products he wishes to use. Personal information of the purchaser could be attached to the digital file downloaded such as this name, email address, or an account reference. As DRM spreads, we might end up in a situation where an individual cannot purchase or use any digital goods without giving up him anonymity.
Akester argues that this could potentially be in conflict in the EU with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights on the right to respect private and family life. Akester believes that most DRM systems are made with little regard to privacy.
A possible problem with a more direct impact on users is the ability of certain DRM technologies to install themselves on the end-users machine with the purpose of tracking the use of work in question. In the year 2005, Sony BMG was caught in a scandal for including a special “rootkit software” that installs itself when a user plays a music CD by the label. This rootkit had the effect of rendering the end-users computer vulnerable for attacks. The rootkit was eventually labeled by makers of Anti-virus and Microsoft as a spyware. Sony BMG was faced with a number of class actions which the company settled.
However, the law in most jurisdictions would make attempting to circumvent DRM in order to protect the users machine or to access the purchased copyright work without compromising one’s privacy illegal.