Latest Twist On DRM Of Physical Products: Machines Locked Down By Geolocation
from the and-you-thought-you-owned-it dept
Despite overwhelming evidence that the public hates DRM, companies persist in coming up with new ways to impose it in an effort to control how their products are used. Here's the latest twist, pointed out to us by @dozykraut:
On Practical Machinist, there's a fascinating thread about the manufacturer's lockdown on a high-priced, high-end Mori Seiki NV5000 A/40 CNC [computer numerical control] mill. The person who started the thread owns the machine outright, but has discovered that if he moves it at all, a GPS and gyro sensor package in the machine automatically shuts it down and will not allow it to restart until they receive a manufacturer's unlock code.
As the Boing Boing article quoted above explains, this seems to be a requirement of the US government, and is designed to prevent machines being sent to Iran in violation of the embargo placed on that country. But of course, the ramifications are much wider:
now these machines can't be moved at all without the manufacturer's knowledge and consent, a situation that the manufacturers have turned into a business-opportunity by using the technology to assist in repossessing machines from delinquent lease-payers -- and requiring permission for privilege of deciding where to place their key capital assets.
What's particularly troubling is that the cost of adding GPS capabilities is already low, and will inevitably become lower. That raises the possibility of a wider range of devices being locked down by geolocation -- and of their owners' rights being eroded down even more.