Self-erasing mp3 player: Don’t give ’em ideas!

In a comment on a Boing Boing post about RFID ‘viruses’, Ben Giddings makes an interesting aside:

“If you intentionally design a system to be vulnerable to certain data, then intentionally expose the system to that data, then yup, you’ll have a problem.

I’m surprised the music industry hasn’t tried this with MP3s. Design a MP3 player that will format your hard drive if it sees a certain often-downloaded song, download that song, show the drive getting formatted, then claim that MP3s are dangerous because they might format your hard drive.”

The idea of data-triggered architectures of control is intriguing (and even more worrying than blindly applied ‘simple’ control).

Going further than simply using this as a FUD/scare tactic (“P2P networks are full of viruses – look what could happen to your computer!”), it could equally be applied as part of a ‘trusted’/treacherous computing architecture to ‘punish’ users who violate whatever rules the maker puts in place.

Just as incorrectly entering your PIN three times will cause the ATM to retain your card, so ‘incorrectly’ having non-authorised data on your hard disk could cause the computer to lock up the rest of your data, or delete that important novel or thesis you’ve been working on.

Don’t let it happen.


  1. RF

    The thought of having a harddrive that I own lock up, or ever delete everything on it, because of what someone thinks is unauthorised data is outragious. Having to use scare tactics to get people to not download music or movies seems wrong and shouldn’t be necessary at any point.

  2. ashley wilson``

    I think this would be terrible. Computers that lock up your hard drive could lead to having to do way more work than necessary. I could not imagine hitting one wrong key and my machine locks up and all my work is gone. I would be completely horrified.

  3. Jill

    Users shouldn’t constantly feel like they are being threatened that their data may be erased. I wouldn’t even consider buying a product that would do that. The manufacturer is simply hurting themselves by doing this.

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