San Francisco - Today the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) released a white paper warning consumers about how they can be harmed by end user license agreements (EULAs) for consumer electronics and online services. Many EULAs contain terms that damage consumer interests, including invitations for vendors to snoop on users' computers, prohibitions on publicly criticizing the product in question, and bans on customizing or even repairing purchased devices.
"Overbroad EULAs are one of the greatest threats to consumer rights in the high tech industry," said Annalee Newitz, EFF policy analyst and author of the white paper. "Few people realize that simply visiting a website or downloading a software update may constitute 'agreeing' to a EULA that permits third parties to monitor your communications or allows a vendor to dictate what you can or cannot do with the product you've bought. Clicking the 'I Agree' button may mean clicking away your privacy, freedom of speech, or other rights."
One advantage of best-of-breed rights management is that consumers may be afforded opportunities to choose among business models. Free with advertising or a fee without advertising. Many Independent Software Vendors already use this model quite apart from DRM, Eudora, for example.
Consumers should have real notice and real choice. DRM-enabled applications are one way to provide both.