I think it’s safe to say most regular people aren’t exactly huge fans of DRM. It’s one thing when it’s applied to music and movies – but quite another when it affects the cars we use to get around.
The new Renault Zoe, an electric car, is forcing its users to rent, rather than buy, its battery. DRM software on the rented batteries collects information about the user’s driving habits, and allows the battery manufacturer to disable the battery’s ability to recharge if the user doesn’t pay their monthly rental fee.
So, why is this a bad thing (beyond the very, very obvious)?
If Renault has the ability to remotely deactivate the battery on the Zoe, others can have that ability as well. Hackers have already found ways to control airplanes and naval ships with relatively simple technology, and there’s little stopping a hacker from cracking this software as well.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation notes how the Digital Millennium Copyright Act also makes it illegal for users to circumvent DRM. If a car owner attempts to adjust or repair something connected to the car’s onboard software, he or she could be found guilty of violating DMCA, even though he/she owns the car.
Oh, and there’s also the fact that if the battery manufacturer goes out of business or simply decides it doesn’t want to bother with the batteries anymore, you now have a car you can’t use.
So, yeah. If you thought not being able to play your favorite video game because it couldn’t be authenticated was bad, you definitely don’t want DRM in your car.