Wired has an interesting article on the Sony/BMG Rotkit fiasco.
Among the many points the article explores is the reluctance of other companies to step in on this issue:
What do you think of your antivirus company, the one that didn’t notice Sony’s rootkit as it infected half a million computers?
Even Microsoft, whose product, Windows, is damaged by this has only half-heartedly adressed it.
You have to wonder why. How many companies don’t want a precedent set against the use of invasive, cloaking, rootkit programs to protect their own interests over those of the consumer.
One issue has been that technically, the Sony Rootkit is part of a DRM system and protected by the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. Removing it would be illegal. Even making a software program to facilitate it’s removal would violate the DMCA. Yet, the actions the rootkit software takes could be seen as hacking and a violation of U.S. cybercrime law.
The only thing that makes this rootkit legitimate is that a multinational corporation put it on your computer, not a criminal organization.
What we need is someone who is not afraid to take a stand against this practice and develop a piece of software that can remove the Sony Rootkit completely without crippling the computer’s Windows installation. We need to have someone with some courage take this and dare Sony to have the hubris to sue them over the removal of their DRM.
My guess is that Sony wouldn’t dare go to court to stop someone from making a product to remove this particular program. If they did, it would bring their illegal actions out in court and they would have to admit them. It could even go against them.
It should. Even ignoring a removal tool would set a precedent that the needs of the public to have safe, secure computers outweigh Sony’s right to profits. We need to shame McAfee, Symantec, etc. into doing what they should be doing and remove this software from our computers, rather than standing by idly.