A bad news for pirates. It looks like the next version of Chrome (Chrome 57) will not allow users to disable the Widevine DRM plugin anymore, therefore making it an always-on, permanent feature of Chrome. The new version of Chrome will also eliminate the “chrome://plugins” internal URL, which means if you want to disable Flash, you’ll have to do it from the Settings page.

For those who don’t know what DRM means, it is simply a technlogy that protects the DRM-protected content from being streamed or used into platforms that are not authorized or let’s say restricted, just like Netflix and Spotify.

The scheme is implemented via EME (Encrypted Media Extensions). It is an HTML specification which allows DRM plugins to encrypt web content. The specification was proposed by Netflix, as well as by Google and Microsoft.

According to a Chromium issue, the next version of Chrome will not allow users to disable DRM in their browsers anymore. Right now, if users don’t want to ever play Widevine-protected content, they can go to the chrome://plugins address and disable the DRM plugin there.

That doesn’t mean they can play the same videos without DRM protection, but according to some on the Chromium issue page, it saves them from having to deal with a bunch of Widevine DRM bugs that causes their Chrome browser to crash often.

It also allows the users to send content distributors a message that DRM is not accepted. If enough people do it, then it may stop or at least slow down the spread of DRM-locked content on the web. Alternatively, if DRM is enabled and can’t be switched-off in all browsers, more and more developers may start to “take advantage” of it, just like they would any new other HTML specification, and lock-down increasingly more content.

And another catch.

Built-in PDF Reader & Native Plug-ins Can’t Be Disabled Either

So far only the Flash plugin can be disabled in the Chrome Settings page, but there is no setting to disable the Widevine DRM plugin, nor the PDF viewer and the Native Client plugins. PDF readers, including the ones that are built into browsers, are major targets for malicious hackers. PDF is a “powerful” file format that’s used by many, and it allows hackers to do all sorts of things given the right vulnerability.

People who prefer to open their PDF files in a better sandboxed environment or with a more secure PDF reader, rather than in Chrome, will not be able to do that anymore. All PDF files will always open in Chrome’s PDF viewer, starting with Chrome 57.

When Google is protesting against Trump’s immigration ban, they are doing restrictions that contradicts the aforementioned act. And perhaps, some Chrome users might make the switch due to content and browser restrictions, though, in my opinion, nothing can beat Chrome as of this moment.

Source: Tom’s Hardware