We are one RFID away from a dishwasher that rejects third-party dishes on pain of a 5-year prison sentence

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/03/02/sole-and-despotic-dominion-2.html


But there is no such dishwasher on the market. Why is that so? Why has nobody developed a dishwasher requiring rfid plates and put that on the market for half the price of a regular dishwasher (with plates 5 times more expensive than standard plates, of course)?


Make no mistake, corporate America wants to eliminate the very idea of ownership for anybody but our corporate masters. It’s the new feudalism.


Give them time. Seriously, though, the article is a parody of similar arguments, using a fairly ridiculous example, but it reflects what is already going on in the real world. Cory has posted in the recent past about this issue in the case of John Deere farm machinery, for example.

Note that in the case of Apple, whose arguments are paraphrased here, the products are actually more expensive than rival products, and the DRM is sold as a feature justifying the higher cost. This isn’t the Gillette razor model.


This headline! We’ve reached Peak Doctorow!


Oh, wait, I know! Because no one in their right mind would buy such a thing, when there are standard dishwashers available that place no such restrictions.

Free markets and consumer choice, how do they fucking work?


I think the worry is that all the dishwasher manufacturers will include DRM in all models. Kind of like how you can’t buy a purely mechanical car anymore.

ETA: I guess this isn’t really about dishwashers, but the point stands. Your IoT refrigerator could reject your groceries. There will be a point when all new refrigerators will be internet-enabled, because that’s too valuable for the manufacturer not to do it.


The problem is that normal market mechanisms are subverted by DMCA 1201.

Here’s an example:

HP sold printers that you could use third-party ink with. Then they pushed out a fake “security update” to tens of millions of users that actually installed code to reject third-party ink and refilled cartridges, but which took six months to kick in.

The customers’ remedies were to buy a different printer (next time) or send a letter of complaint to HP and hope they’d make it right.

In the end, after more than 20,000 complaints, HP shipped a deliberately obscure patch that would undo some of this mischief, but they would not promise not to do it again – only that the next time they did it, they’d be better about “communicating.”

DMCA 1201 means that you can buy a dishwasher that does 10 things (including allowing any dishes), but next week only does 9 things. No competitor would be allowed to product third-party firmware or add-ons to undo this, and you would have made your purchase.


Sure, that’s a possibility. But there would have to be a really good reason for ALL the dishwasher manufacturers to (in a non-collusive manner) move to the DRM model in the face of consumer opposition. In the car example you provided, the reasons that auto manufacturers moved to incorporate digital elements into the vehicle have little to do with using DRM to maximize profit, and more to do with meeting goals re fuel efficiency, safety, cost reduction, and introduction of new features.

Here’s a thought - don’t connect it to the internet.

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In the case under discussion, it’s not about internet connection, but about the device rejecting third-party products. Imagine your Keurig coffee maker rejecting non-Keurig pods. This is a real thing that has actually happened.


Yeah, I was referring more to the HP firmware update. Functionality shouldn’t be able to be removed after I buy something, so never connecting it to the internet seems the best way to do that.

In the case of a dishwasher of fridge, what’s the advantage to the manufacturer? Keurig is owned by Green Mountain, and they want to sell coffee. HP sells printers and supplies for printers. But Whirlpool and KitchenAid don’t sell food or plates (KA does sell a lot of small kitchen tools, though). More likely, they would try to sell you a system where owning one of their appliances makes you buy other appliances. The advantage to Keurig and HP is that consumables are, you know, consumed, so you have to buy more all the time. How often do you have to buy plates?

That said, I’m sticking with as much ‘stupid’ stuff as I can for as long as I can hold out.


Vitamix just started adding RFID to their blenders.

No thanks. I have a Vitamix 3600 that’s probably 40 years old. It’s dumb as hell, has a 2HP motor and instantaneous reverse. I’ll use this one until it dies, which may happen to me first.


Whirlpool selling plates is a bit farfetched, of course. But Whirlpool saying your dishwasher may only be serviced by Whirlpool-certified repairpersons, using genuine Whirlpool parts, is not. The control unit on my Maytag stove (a Whirlpool product) failed a few years ago, and I bought a replacement from them for about $125 and installed it. This was after they had quoted me over $600 for their guy to do the swap.

Me too.


Good question. Ask someone in marketing and advertising.


Still waiting for the gentle caress of the invisible hand.


Yes, like what the car makers are trying to do. And then at some point they’ll say, well, we can’t provide firmware updates or whatever for that model any more, you have to buy a new one.

More like the invisible fist.


It’s so cute that you think you’ve actually bought something and haven’t merely paid to license it… so long as you abide by the manufacturer’s agreement that you probably didn’t bother reading.


In the “good ole days” some auto companies accomplished something similar by purposely engineering a hard to reach bolt into the engine. Said bolt could only be removed with the use of a patented tool that wasn’t available for sale to non-authorized mechanics.