from the yeah,-that's-not-happening dept
Click 'Okay' to download the latest DRM Plugin.Fitzpatrick kindly sent me a bunch more screenshots and details. That little error message pops up -- along with other error messages -- when you go to watch a movie:
After installation playback should resume immediately,
if it doesn't then you may need to restart your browser.
Fitzpatrick also realized that if you don't have Flash (which is actually a good security practice) United will helpfully offer to install it for you as well:
At this point, United will provide lots of detailed instructions on how to install the DRM-you-never-wanted on your machine:
So, not only is United trying to install unnecessary and annoying DRM on your computer, it's also doing so in a way that it is recognized as being a security nightmare. That's encouraging.
In the interest of science, Fitzpatrick dug a little deeper and discovered that the "DRM plugin" in question is actually Panasonic's Marlin DRM -- something we actually wrote about years ago, as an attempt to create an "open source" DRM. Though, amusingly, Fitzpatrick notes that the DRM comes with strong copyright warnings itself:
This Software Product is protected by copyright laws and treaties, as well as laws and treaties related to other forms of intellectual property. Panasonic Avionics Corporation or its subsidiaries, affiliates, ad suppliers (collectively "PAC") own intellectual property rights in the Software Product. The Licensee's ("you" or "your") license to download, use, copy, or change the Software Product is subject to these rights and to all the terms and conditions of this End User License Agreement ("Agreement").How sweet. You need to abide by Panasonic's rules when you install its security nightmare of a DRM you didn't want, just to watch an in-flight movie.
And, really, after all this, people should be asking but why? What "threat" model requires United to force dangerous malware onto your computer? And the answer is likely that Hollywood requires it, because to Hollywood everything is a threat, and the idea that someone might be paying hundreds of dollars for flights and they might also then make a copy of a movie... well, that's just too much to handle, and they have to first ask you to break your computer and put all your data at risk. Isn't that sweet of Hollywood? Oh wait, no I didn't mean sweet. I meant insane.
I'm sure that United Airlines didn't think through much of this and the details when it agreed to these ridiculous terms. It just thought it was adding an option that sounded nice. Letting people have access to more entertainment options, including on their own devices sure sounds like a nice option for some passengers. But if it comes with forcing people to put their computers and information at risk, it gets problematic fast.