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 PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags chrome

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

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

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?