The spy in your pocket

DRM provides device makers, software companies and media publishers with access to our devices. Those businesses decide how we use digital content and they receive their customers' consent to spy on them through ‘take it or leave it’ terms and conditions. Those terms and conditions are often very lengthy and are designed to not be understood by ordinary citizens, so many people never read them; but even if they do and disagree, it is usually difficult to return an item at that point.

In 2009, Amazon electronically intruded into its customers’ e-book readers to delete books that they had sold by mistake. Among the deleted ones was George Orwell’s 1984, a book about a dystopian world that has a device called ‘memory hole’ in which the government 'disappears' unauthorised material forever. Amazon later promised not to use the deletion feature again, unless ordered to do so by a government. The irony of that situation could hardly have been clearer.

Vendors can track what music we listen to and which books we read. We have no control over where this information goes once it leaves our devices.

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