FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle #539814-00631

Submission Number:
Frank Milliren
Initiative Name:
FTC Town Hall to Address Digital Rights Management Technologies - Event Takes Place Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in Seattle

Hello, I am a 40+ married male with children and until fairly recently I gave little thought to the video games I bought and played. The short version is: after the unreported and unannounced unmounting of all my partitions during the installation process of a game is what first made me consider my ongoing software and performance issues were more than random chance and finally sparked my investigation into what was going on. During my investigation I discovered the program called SecuROM, eventually leading me to a complete reformat of all my computer hard drives and severely limited the programs/games that were allowed back onto my computer. Numerous sources throughout the Internet claim everything from the easily reproducible to the outrageous on what it does and damage caused. In fact some of the scariest claims can be found on the the SecuROM website in their own advertising. I have personal experience with the fact that it installs without notification, inhibits legitimate software, purposefully attempts to hide itself from the owner and administrator of the computer (me) and further when I attempted to completely remove it from my computer it made every effort possible to block me from doing so. I blame software publishers for introducing it into products without making the user aware of what it is, what it does and without providing a tool for its complete removal if the user so desires. Because of my experiences I now do not purchase any games without first determining that they do not include SecuROM or other invasive DRM programs. Please consider: If someone entered my vehicle without permission, and forced me to drive by only their wishes I would have undeniable grounds for legal recourse. If I put an air filter on my lawnmower that artificially restricted how, when and where I could use it and it prevented removal without forewarning I would again have undeniable grounds for legal recourse. If I purchased a CD indicating it was a new calculator program but it also, without notifying me, installed another program that monitored my system, sent encrypted information back to the developer, attempted to hide/disguise itself, interfered with other legitimate programs and blocked my attempts to disable/remove it I would again have undeniable grounds for legal recourse. I would not be faulted for attempting to regain control over my own property in any of these scenarios. Yet when users attempt to protect themselves or their property from SecuROM, and other similarly invasive programs, they are considered criminals. Use of SecuROM and other like programs is inexcusable because these companies are trusted by the public to provide safe and properly coded games and programs for purchase. But instead of working with the community for better solutions a quick review of the game forums of these Corporations shows that instead of developing a good relationship through open dialog with its customers these companies are either actively preventing conversation or avoiding it altogether keeping the uninformed just that and labeling the outspoken as pirates. I would respectfully request you seriously consider the fact that in the words of an FTC representative: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/06/spyware.shtm these “protective” programs, such as SecuROM, unequivocally meet the criteria for being defined as Spyware. You have in your power the ability to do something about this issue and I would hope that you hold these corporations to at least the same if not a higher standard than you would an individual who was caught engaging in these same nefarious activities. . My right to protect my property from invasion is no less important than their right to protect theirs. I agree these Corporations should be able to protect their property, but their property should not be considered more valuable than mine, that it is, is the current fundamental flaw in the system. Thank you for the opportunity to present my views, Frank Milliren