Chrome's next release will make DRM mandatory

But that may change.

An interesting problem has come to light for Google Chrome users, revolving around the browser’s built-in DRM scheme for accessing content on services such as Netflix. With Chrome 57, the next major Chrome release, Google will disable the plugin settings page chrome://plugins. That means anyone who wants to disable any built-in plugins, including the DRM decryption module called Widevine, can no longer do so.

It’s likely the vast majority of Chrome users just leave the Widevine decryption setting as is. For those who want to disable it, however, it’s an important setting and one that shouldn’t be removed so easily.

As Cory Doctorow over at Boing Boing points out, a component like Widevine is not immune to security flaws. However, security issues discovered in DRM schemes are harder to publicize due to the legal restraints put in place to discourage their disclosure. That means security issues can exist for months or years without the public finding out. Because of that, some users want to disable Widevine and do without DRM-laden video streaming services on their PCs.

Chrome 57 is currently being tested in the browser’s dev channel.

Months in the making

Despite the sudden outcry, Google has been quietly planning the end of the plugins page for several months. In May 2016, the Chromium team proposed disabling chrome://plugins. The page was seen as irrelevant since the primary reason for maintaining it was to control Chrome’s built-in Flash player, and controls for Flash are now available in Chrome’s primary settings.

In October, the team decided that Widevine would become enabled for everyone once chrome://plugins disappeared from the browser, according to a comment from a Chromium team member

The impact on you at home: It appears Google may be rethinking its new approach to Widevine in Chrome. Several comments in Chromium’s bug tracker are discussing the issue, noting that the “Internet is not happy” about the loss of control over the decryption module. Nothing has been decided yet, but it looks like Google may decide to enable a settings option to disable Widevine in Chrome.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags chrome

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ian Paul

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?