[linux-elitists] News conference, demonstrations, and talks in mid-July 2003

Seth David Schoen schoen@loyalty.org
Thu Jul 17 17:58:31 PDT 2003

Jay Sulzberger writes:

> Why does one part of the EFF believe Microsoft's claim that you will be
> able to run a free operating system on Palladiated hardware?

I think _all_ of the EFF believes this.  I'm sorry I haven't read
linux-elitists very recently.

TCG's architecture is such that (1) the TPM chip does not get to
decide what code can run, and (2) anybody can make a TPM chip.  If you
want to, _you_ can make a TPM chip according to their specs.  (I have
not heard about patents.)  Apparently your theory, in a later message,
is that major manufacturers will make chips not according to spec and
containing some kind of back door.

I participated in a brief thread about back doors in trusted computing
hardware on the cryptography list.  I'm sure it's possible to find the
thread with Google.  To summarize, it's a challenging question, but
it's not obviously different from the problem of deciding whether
there are back doors in existing silicon or not.  Some people in the
computer security community believe that existing, deployed hardware
components contain back doors -- and they could be right, but those
back doors can exist with or without trusted computing.

The inference that TCG TPMs in particular will contain back doors is
hard for me to follow.  It seems to be coming either from the idea
that this technology is bad for the public, is being developed with
the participation of untrustworthy people, or is being developed with
motives other than the stated motives of its creators.

All of these could be true, but I don't think they get you to the
conclusion that there will be back doors (in many independent,
competing, and interoperable implementations).

> Microsoft and Intel have spent
> hundreds of millions of dollars, likely billions, to produce a system which
> will, by changing one bit on the motherboard,

Which bit is that?

> be limited to boot only
> Microsoft OSes.  Further much time, effort, and money has been spent to
> force Palladium hardware into every IBM style peecee to be sold over the
> next few years.  If the Palladium hardware actually were to allow free
> booting, then what is the point of this large scale project?

It allows security applications which aren't possible today.  Some of
those are good for computer owners, some are bad, but all are enabled
by the architectural changes and none require preventing free booting.

Seth David Schoen <schoen@loyalty.org> | Very frankly, I am opposed to people
     http://www.loyalty.org/~schoen/   | being programmed by others.
     http://vitanuova.loyalty.org/     |     -- Fred Rogers (1928-2003),
                                       |        464 U.S. 417, 445 (1984)

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