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TCPA



This is scary. Read it. Educate yourself. BE AWARE.

"The TCG project is known by a number of names. `Trusted computing' was the original one, and is still used by IBM, while Microsoft calls it `trustworthy computing' and the Free Software Foundation calls it `treacherous computing'. Hereafter I'll just call it TC, which you can pronounce according to taste. Other names you may see include TCPA (TCG's name before it incorporated), Palladium (the old Microsoft name for the version due to ship in 2004) and NGSCB (the new Microsoft name). Intel has just started calling it `safer computing'. Many observers believe that this confusion is deliberate - the promoters want to deflect attention from what TC actually does."

"TC will also make it much harder for you to run unlicensed software. In the first version of TC, pirate software could be detected and deleted remotely. Since then, Microsoft has sometimes denied that it intended TC to do this, but at WEIS 2003 a senior Microsoft manager refused to deny that fighting piracy was a goal: `Helping people to run stolen software just isn't our aim in life', he said. The mechanisms now proposed are more subtle, though."

"TC can support remote censorship. In its simplest form, applications may be designed to delete pirated music under remote control."

"With existing MP3s, you may be all right for some time. Microsoft says that TC won't make anything suddenly stop working. But a recent software update for Windows Media Player has caused controversy by insisting that users agree to future anti-piracy measures, which may include measures that delete pirated content found on your computer. [...] You may have to use a different player - and if your player will play pirate MP3s, then it may not be authorised to play the new, protected, titles."

"TC is also aimed at payment systems. One of the Microsoft visions is that much of the functionality now built on top of bank cards may move into software once the applications can be made tamper-resistant. This leads to a future in which we pay for books that we read, and music we listen to, at the rate of so many pennies per page or per minute. The broadband industry is pushing this vision; meanwhile some far-sighted people in the music industry are starting to get scared at the prospect of Microsoft charging a percentage on all their sales. Even if micropayments don't work out as a business model - and there are some persuasive arguments why they won't - there will be some sea-changes in online payment, with spillover effects for the user. If, in ten years' time, it's inconvenient to shop online with a credit card unless you use a TC platform, that will be tough on Mac and GNU/linux users."

"One of the worries is censorship. TC was designed from the start to support the centralised revocation of pirate bits. Pirate software won't run in the TC world as TC will make the registration process tamper-resistant. But what about pirated songs or videos? How do you stop someone recording a track - if necessary by putting microphones next the speakers of a TC machine, and ripping it into an MP3? The proposed solution is that protected content will contain digital watermarks, and lawful media players that detect a watermark won't play that song unless it comes with an appropriate digital certificate for that device. But what if someone hacks a Fritz chip and does a transaction that `lawfully' transfers ownership of the track? In that case, traitor tracing technology will be used to find out which PC the track was ripped from. Then two things will happen. First, the owner of that PC will be prosecuted. (That's the theory, at least; it probably won't work as the pirates will use hacked PCs.) Second, tracks that have been through that machine will be put on a blacklist, which all TC players will download from time to time."

"The modern age only started when Gutenberg invented movable type printing in Europe, which enabled information to be preserved and disseminated even if princes and bishops wanted to ban it. For example, when Wycliffe translated the Bible into English in 1380-1, the Lollard movement he started was suppressed easily; but when Tyndale translated the New Testament in 1524-5, he was able to print over 50,000 copies before they caught him and burned him at the stake. The old order in Europe collapsed, and the modern age began. Societies that tried to control information became uncompetitive, and with the collapse of the Soviet Union it seemed that democratic liberal capitalism had won. But now, TC has placed at risk the priceless inheritance that Gutenberg left us. Electronic books, once published, will be vulnerable; the courts can order them to be unpublished and the TC infrastructure will do the dirty work."

"The Soviet Union attempted to register and control all typewriters and fax machines. TC similarly attempts to register and control all computers. The problem is that everything is becoming computerised. We have absolutely no idea where ubiquitous content control mechanisms will lead us."

"Can't you just turn it off? Sure - unless your system administrator configures your machine in such a way that TC is mandatory, you can always turn it off. You can then run your PC as before, and use insecure applications. There is one small problem, though. If you turn TC off, Fritz won't hand out the keys you need to decrypt your files and run your bank account."

Spread the word. This is really really scary stuff that impinges on our rights, and pretty much will turn the modern world into something out of 1984. Just as Gutenberg invented the printing press and gave us the power of communication and media, the TCPA (Intel, Microsoft, et al) want to take it away. DON'T LET THEM TAKE YOUR RIGHTS.

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