[p2p-hackers] Stop Palladium and TCPA Now!

Zooko zooko at zooko.com
Mon Feb 3 12:56:01 UTC 2003

 Hal Finney writes:
> Are you being facetious here?


> What is the Treacherous Computing Platform
> Alliance and how does it differ from the Trusted Computing Platform
> Alliance?  Are you just calling them names?

Yes, I'm just calling them names.  It was RMS's idea AFAIK.  Likewise, he 
expands DRM as "Digital Restrictions Management", which I believe is a much less 
euphemistic term than the official one.

> If so, where do you get your information about what the TCPA will do?

Various sources such as Microsoft job postings, interviews, press releases, 
etc., plus simple reasoning about what strategy profit-seeking machines 
(corporations) will attempt in the current situation.

> Given this capability, why do they need to stop you from booting Linux
> as you claimed above?

That's a good point -- the TCPA hack can enforce Digital Restrictions Management 
without preventing you from booting a free operating system.  So inasmuch as 
that works, it lessens the profit motive to prevent alternative OSes, by instead 
constraining what the alternative OSes are capable of doing.

Xboxes prevent you from booting a free operating system because they are sold 
below cost.

One final profit motive might be simple competition: if Linux or another OS were 
to sufficiently encroach on desktop sales of Windows then applying Xbox-like 
constraints to PC hardware might be worthwhile.  But there might be cheaper ways 
to achieve the same thing (such as managing OEM relationships).

But you (and Adam) make a very good point that the goal of the current TCPA spec 
is not to prevent booting of alternative OSes.  Rather it is to prevent that an 
alternative OS can use certain information after booting.

> And does this constitute "control [of] everything that you do with
> your computer"?  Or is there something worse?

Well, there are two prongs here: one is that if you run Windows, then Microsoft 
will have de facto control of everything that you do with your computer, and 
will use it for various profit-making purposes such as disabling competing 
software, forcing you to upgrade, preventing you from sharing content, etc.  The 
other prong is that if you *don't* run Windows, there will be less and less that 
you are able to do in terms of interacting with the rest of the world that does.

Currently we live in an exception from the big pattern -- a bubble in history, 
when I can send and receive e-mail and web pages with my mom even though she 
runs Windows and I run Linux.  This will become less and less possible in the 
future, as the web page that she views and the document tools that she uses (MS 
Word, Outlook) start emitting information which is cryptographically impossible 
for me to read.  (For example, because the information is encrypted with a 
public key whose private counterpart is embedded in my computer and only 
available if I boot Windows.)

I want to stress that this stuff is not future hypothetical stuff.  Windows 
Media Player 9 is now released.  It signals the sound card, if the sound card 
has the appropriate Digital Restrictions Management features built in, to 
prevent the user from recording the digital audio passed through it.  Many 
soundcards currently in the hands of consumers will obey this instruction.  None 
of them say so on the outside of the box.




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