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Trusted Or Treacherous Computing? 208

theodp writes "Just because Richard Stallman is paranoid doesn't mean Microsoft's not out to get you. For a hint about the possible end-game of Microsoft's Trusted Computing Initiative, check out the patent application published Thanksgiving Day for Trusted License Removal, in which Microsoft describes how to revoke rights to render based on 'who the user is, where the user is located, what type of computing device or other playback device the user is using, what rendering application is calling the copy protection system, the date, the time, etc.' So much for Microsoft's you-should-have-control assurances."
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Trusted Or Treacherous Computing?

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  • by Old Man Kensey ( 5209 ) on Friday November 24, 2006 @06:27PM (#16978658) Homepage
    Anyone who has ever believed that Microsoft is genuinely on the consumer's side in any kind of licensing question is so naive they shouldn't be allowed out of the house without a minder.
  • For and against (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HomelessInLaJolla ( 1026842 ) <> on Friday November 24, 2006 @06:28PM (#16978674) Homepage Journal
    Since my laptop was stolen about five months ago I can appreciate the qualities of a system which could be used to at least cripple hardware which was stolen or otherwise suspect.

    As a realist, though, I cannot possibly trust that a large organization could implement this properly without willingly abusing it or unwillingly fscking it up.
  • by man_of_mr_e ( 217855 ) on Friday November 24, 2006 @06:31PM (#16978698)
    I think that, like many things, the reasons behind these ideas are well intentioned, but can be used for evil if not policed.

    There are a lot of good reasons to do the things Microsoft proposes. Stolen laptops, Malware, Leaked confidential information (think patient records, social security numbers, etc..). The problem is, of course, that most such technologies cut both ways.
  • Say what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Score Whore ( 32328 ) on Friday November 24, 2006 @06:31PM (#16978706)
    Or maybe it's just a way for them to manage licenses? Like you purchase a license to view a movie. They send you the .WMV and the license to view the file. You upgrade your computer and want to migrate all your purchases to the new machine. So you request to remove the license from the current system.

    Maybe someone should read the patent in question?
  • Re:Say what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by no reason to be here ( 218628 ) on Friday November 24, 2006 @06:38PM (#16978758) Homepage
    Uhh, if i pay to download something--a movie, to use your example--i expect that i have the right to watch it on whatever device that i own and that i shouldn't have to ask for permission to move it from my desktop to my notebook. i don't want to pay for licenses. i want to pay for the movie, and then use that movie in a anyway that i please that is legal without having to ask for permission, and if that means you have to trust me that i won't do anything illegal with that movie, well boo-fucking-hoo. i haven't committed any crimes, so i don't want to be treated like a criminal.
  • Re:For and against (Score:3, Insightful)

    by b0s0z0ku ( 752509 ) on Friday November 24, 2006 @06:51PM (#16978842)
    Since my laptop was stolen about five months ago I can appreciate the qualities of a system which could be used to at least cripple hardware which was stolen or otherwise suspect.

    Why bother? Laptops are easily replaceable. It's the data that you have to worry about. Encrypt it and keep the keys on a device that's kept seperate from the laptop (USB key?) unless it's in use. Combine that with fingerprint scanning or other biometrics if you're really paranoid. And don't encrypt the partition or directories containing the OS and software with the same key! Having known files in encrypted *and* decrypted forms to work from will only simplify a cracker's job.


  • Re:Say what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dr. Zowie ( 109983 ) <(gro.tserofed) (ta) (todhsals)> on Friday November 24, 2006 @06:54PM (#16978870)
    Even if "benign" license control is all this is for, it ain't so benign. Having to ask permission before acting is the hallmark of totalitarianism. Even if the license were free of monetary charge, giving up that much control is too high a price to watch "X-Men 7" or "Police Academy 32".
  • by rbochan ( 827946 ) on Friday November 24, 2006 @06:55PM (#16978874) Homepage

    There are a lot of good reasons to do the things...

    Sorry, but I happen to think that's crap. Much like the government, whenever a controversial law/license is proposed, and its supporters, when confronted with an egregious abuse it would permit, use a phrase along the lines of 'Perhaps in theory, but the law would never be applied in that way' - they're LYING. They intend to use the law that way as early and as often as possible.

    Stolen laptops, Malware, Leaked confidential information (think patient records, social security numbers, etc..)

    Those situations would fall under the jurisdiction of law enforcement, not Microsoft.

  • Re:Say what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 24, 2006 @07:03PM (#16978934)
    Yeah, I think it's a great idea that when I purchase content, I have to jump through bureaucratic hoops to view it. Since this will be the first ever DRM scheme that is unhackable, the pirates will finally be stopped. The noble content providers will finally see a profit from all of these movies and songs that they created, and all I have to do in order to view "You, Me, and Dupree" in glorious high rez is buy a new monitor, a new operating system, and a new computer, and then waste a bunch of my free time messing around with their cumbersome protections. Hallelujah!

    I think I'd rather go to the library and read a freakin book, for free, before they find a way to DRM paper.

    The only think lamer than M$ is an M$ apologist... I really can't understand why you'd spend any effort sticking up for them. You just enjoy having your rights restricted? You enjoy getting less for your money? You actually believe that this nonsense will slow the pirates down for even a second? It won't. It will just inconvenience millions of honest people. It's the digital equivalent of getting felt up by an airport security goon, all in the name of stopping "the terrorist".

    I truly pity you, and your abject servility to a faceless and uncaring authority.
  • by orkysoft ( 93727 ) <orkysoft AT myrealbox DOT com> on Friday November 24, 2006 @07:07PM (#16978970) Journal
    Since when is Richard Stallman paranoid?
  • If you want to protect the user, you give the keys to the user (or let him chose them). No encription that hides the keys from you is there for your benefit.

  • by cdrguru ( 88047 ) on Friday November 24, 2006 @07:21PM (#16979086) Homepage
    Law enforcement? How? What law might you be considering?

    "Malware" isn't illegal. I know of no reasonable law that defines what this might be. Certainly lots of people are inconvenienced by it, but that is hardly justification for making writing software some kind of criminal offence. And any law that purports to make "malware" illegal is utterly unenforcable - do you really believe that some teenager in Romainia is going to be dragged into court in California for a single offence of this type?

    Leaking confidential information has some laws surrounding it, but again the application is unlikely to really occur. If we were serious about this kind of thing it would be a criminal act to use an outsourcing company to process medical records outside of the jurisdiction where disclosing those records is a crime. You see, every day medical records are processed in third-world countries where there are no laws about privacy of those records.

    While it might be nice if the FBI investigated every malware incident, it doesn't happen. Nor would you really want it to. And while "malware" isn't really illegal, by the time the FBI gets involved, the will find some law that has been broken if they can arrest someone.
  • by timmarhy ( 659436 ) on Friday November 24, 2006 @07:33PM (#16979166)
    microsoft aren't a public institution subject to control by the people, thats what.
  • by Catbeller ( 118204 ) on Friday November 24, 2006 @07:36PM (#16979196) Homepage
    Stallman is not a paranoid. He is a cynic, and an accurate one. He merely rips away all the happytalk and states the problem in stark terms. That's not paranoia, which is a loaded term come to be used by PR masters to smear opponents. That and "conspiracy theorist".

    Stallman and I are old enough to remember how Microsoft has comported itself for a quarter century. They are consistent liars and cheats, and pointing this out is just a service to the yunguns who don't even remember MS criminally falsifying video evidence -- and getting caught red-handed, too -- at the monopoly trial. IF you or I had done that, we'd still be in federal prison. MS just had a president dump their criminality into the shredder, and then made even more monopoly money.

    They perform no action idly. They've a plan, and it involves killing competition and keeping all the money in the world for themselves. It's a mission statement.
  • by foamrotreturns ( 977576 ) on Friday November 24, 2006 @07:45PM (#16979298)
    Not only are they not under control of the public, they are also not subject to any form of auditing. If MS wants to play policeman, they will need an Internal Affairs Department that can bust them for pulling stupid shite like this. "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."
    ~Lord Acton
  • It is very simple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DrJimbo ( 594231 ) on Friday November 24, 2006 @07:46PM (#16979310)
    When the user/owner controls the keys it really is trusted computing. When someone other than the user/owner controls the keys then it is treacherous computing. Unfortunately, perhaps for marketing reasons, Microsoft does not use these definitions.

    And for the record, Richard Stallman is very good at foreseeing problems way before other people, but that does not make him paranoid, just foresightful.

  • In all honesty, this dude might be a professional paranoiac with an easily google-able catchphrase, but you are a fool, a knave, a liar, and an enemy of liberty everywhere.\

    Anyone who knows jack or shit about law enforcement knows that they can, do, and will use every law and tactic available to prosecute whoever they think are the "bad guys".

    And that's not a slag on law enforcement - that's called "doing their jobs". Obviously, they can get overzealous. And do. And will.

    The point is that you give people power, and they will abuse it to the degree they are permitted . That's why Arlo Guthrie got busted for littering (when his real crime was being a dirty hippy), that's why Al Capone got nailed for tax evasion, that's why the Patriot act leads to waitresses on a plane thinking they can kick off breast-feeding mothers just because they feel like it, that's why we've got another 20 years of releasing the falsely convicted based on DNA evidence (too late for the wrongly executed), and it's why your flip attitude is functionally equivalent to saying "exterminate the jews? go ahead - if the authorities are against them, they must have done something!".

    And so anything - a new law, a new technical system - that isn't done with an eye to how it could be abused, well, it's foolish and ignorant and entirely predictable, and predictably the people who mean to fuck over everyone ignore these things as plainly as can be.

    You really need to study American history again if you don't get this shit by now. Our founding fathers understood this stuff, and that's why "checks and balances" are a part of our government (2000-2006 excepted). You know that scence in Pulp Fiction with the multi-way Mexican Standoff? That's how the US government is supposed to work; go too far, and you'll get blown away, because you can't take out all the other dudes.

  • by Antique Geekmeister ( 740220 ) on Friday November 24, 2006 @08:13PM (#16979524)
    It's worse than you imagine. There is no clear policy on who will obtain the master keys for Palladium or Trusted Computing signature authorities: as things stand, Microsoft will own and sell such authorities. New software signatures must be purchased. This effectively grants Microsoft tremendous access to other company's, or person's trusted keys, and makes installing your own personally created keys prohibitively difficult.

    This also provides BIOS and booatable hardware DRM, in order to control over booting systems. While such is good from a security standpoint, it means that with very trivial changes in hardware such as DRM-managed CD and DVD and USB devices, nothing other than a host-designated, signed Windows operating system will be able to boot the machine enough to install new keys and install a new OS. While the designer of such technologies may not envision such abuse, it's certainly within Microsoft's history of anti-competitive behavior to do this.
  • Re:Say what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by b0s0z0ku ( 752509 ) on Friday November 24, 2006 @08:31PM (#16979682)
    Of course, all of this was illegal. Have these people been arrested? How is "Legal" supposed to be enforced? Trust? Yeah, right. Nobody since about 1830 relies on "trust" to stay in business. And I think that guy went bankrupt like he deserved.

    Too late. The barn door is open. The horse is running free, halfway across the State. Locking it now ain't gonna help any.

    Content has become cheaper and easier to distribute. Just like when the printing press came out 500 years ago which removed the need for scribes - content creators will have to adapt or die. Book authors can adapt in one of several ways: release books in serial form with the understanding that if enough people don't pay for one chapter, the next one isn't coming out. Possibly a return to the idea of the literary magazine. Sure it can be pirated, but not quickly. Also it could even be free and supported with unobstusive advertising.

    Movie producers can write for the theatre, and people *will* pay to see live performances. People will also go to the movie theatres to see movies, and theatres can be policed pretty well as far as respecting copyright. Maybe there'll also be fewer inane movies that are made solely for money since there'll be less easy money in production.

    Musicians will still have live performances, concerts, etc. Perhaps tickets will be more expensive than today, but people will still go watch as they do now.

    I'm not saying that those changes are for the better, but like it or not, mass media as it has worked for the past 75 years or so is dead. Passing obtrusive laws and locking down computers will only delay the inevitable. There are two choices: adapt or die.


  • by Joe The Dragon ( 967727 ) on Friday November 24, 2006 @08:40PM (#16979742)
    With all of the lock down that they have?
    *You can only use our phones
    *You must pay for a data plan to the get discount on that phone
    *You can only use apps that you buy at our store
    *Our phones are locked to our network
    *We force updates on to you
    *We lock out things on your phone to force you to use our network to use them
    aka get photos off of the phone
    *We have a download limit on our unlimited data plan
    and so on?
  • by Penguin Programmer ( 241752 ) on Friday November 24, 2006 @09:05PM (#16979928) Homepage
    There are a lot of good reasons to do the things Microsoft proposes. Stolen laptops, Malware, Leaked confidential information (think patient records, social security numbers, etc..). The problem is, of course, that most such technologies cut both ways.

    To quote a co-worker, "technical solutions to non technical problems will only lead to insanity."

    Malware, stolen laptops and confidential information being leaked are not technical problems. They're social problems. Stop keeping confidential information in places where it can be leaked (i.e. on employees' laptops) and these problems go away. A technical solution is not called for.
  • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Friday November 24, 2006 @10:43PM (#16980668) Homepage Journal

    More to the point, is he paranoid enough?

Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith. - Paul Tillich, German theologian and historian