Trei, Peter wrote:
It could easily be leveraged to make motherboards
which will only run 'authorized' OSs, and OSs
which will run only 'authorized' software.

And you, the owner of the computer, will NOT
neccesarily be the authority which gets to decide
what OS and software the machine can run.

If you 'take ownership' as you put it, the internal
keys and certs change, and all of a sudden you
might not have a bootable computer anymore.

Goodbye Linux.
Goodbye Freeware.
Goodbye independent software development.

It would be a very sad world if this comes
to pass.

Yes it would, many governments are turning to Linux and other freeware. Many huge companies make heavy use of Linux and and freeware, suddenly losing this would have a massive effect on their bottom line and possibly enough to impact the economy as a whole. Independent software developers are a significant part of the economy as well, and most politicians do not want to associate themselves with the concept of "hurting small business". Universities and other educational institutions will fight anything that resembles what you have described tooth and nail.

To think that this kind of technology would be mandated by a government is laughable. Nor do I believe there will be any conspiracy on the part of ISPs to require to in order to get on the Internet. As it stands now most people are running 5+ year old computer and windows 98/me, I doubt this is going to change much because for most people, this does what they want (minus all the security vulnerabilities, but with NAT appliances those are not even that big a deal). There is no customer demand for this technology to be mandated, there is no reason why an ISP or vendor would want to piss off significant percentages of their clients in this way. The software world is becoming MORE open. Firefox and Openoffice are becoming legitimate in the eyes of government and businesses, Linux is huge these days, and the open source development method is being talked about in business mags, board rooms, and universities everywhere.

The government was not able to get the Clipper chip passed and that was backed with the horror stories of rampant pedophilia, terrorism, and organized crime. Do you honestly believe they will be able to destroy open source, linux, independent software development, and the like with just the fear of movie piracy, mp3 sharing, and such? Do you really think they are willing to piss off large sections of the voting population, the tech segment of the economy, universities, small businesses, and the rest of the world just because the MPAA and RIAA don't like customers owning devices they do not control?

It is entirely possibly that a machine like you described will be built, I wish them luck because they will need it. It is attempted quite often and yet history shows us that there is really no widespread demand for iOpeners, WebTV, and their ilk. I don't see customers demanding this, therefor there will probably not be much of a supply. Either way, there is currently a HUGE market for general use PCs that the end user controls, so I imagine there will always be companies willing to supply them.

My primary fear regarding TCPA is the remote attestation component. I can easily picture Microsoft deciding that they do not like Samba and decide to make it so that Windows boxes simply cannot communicate with it for domain, filesystem, or authentication purposes. All they need do is require that the piece on the other end be signed by Microsoft. Heck they could render http agent spoofing useless if they decide to make it so that only IE could connect to ISS. Again though, doing so would piss off a great many of their customers, some of who are slowly jumping ship to other solutions anyway.


Mark Allen Earnest
Lead Systems Programmer
Emerging Technologies
The Pennsylvania State University

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