Skip to comments.Microsoft's Palladium and the "Fritz Chip"
Posted on 06/28/2002 8:09:49 AM PDT by RicocheT
Palladium and the "Fritz Chip"
You all should know about Senator Fritz Hollings, and his tireless attempts to make PCs incapable of copying music files or running "unauthorized content". The Trusted Computing Platform Alliance" or TCPA, is a hardware and software based system for preventing computers from doing many of the things they are now capable of. Microsoft, AMD, Intel and many other companies say they are now working very hard to integrate TCPA features into hardware and software, including future versions of Windows.
At the heart of TCPA is a new chip added to motherboards, which have been affectionately dubbed "Fritz chips" after the good Senator. But there is a double meaning here, since you can expect computers based on TCPA technology to go on the fritz far more often than their non-TCPA counterparts. Eventually, Intel and AMD say they will incorporate TCPA into future processors. Lucky us.
Palladium is the software end of the business, and will be built-into future versions of Windows. The basic idea is that the Fritz chip will constantly check the machine state, and the "authorizations" for the OS and each application on the machine. The OS will only boot if nothing is "amiss", that means no "unauthorized components or content". The spin they are putting on this draconian move is that "PCs won't necessarily get faster, just more secure".
Is that what computer owners want? Slower computers that can't copy MP3 files without paid authorization? I don't think so, and I doubt that talk about "secure computing" will change many minds. So the question is, will folks run out to buy a "Fritz chip" computer, or will they shop around for Fritz-less options? My guess is the later. However, most computer users are far from techno-savvy, so if they get bombarded with propaganda about TCPA making their computers secure from hackers, maybe the IT industry will be able to bamboozle large numbers of casual computer users. But the relatively smaller community of power users will certainly not go quietly into this good fight. So the next question is, will there be "Fritz-less" computer manufacturers that specifically sell only systems that have no TCPA components or operating systems? What will become of Linux as Microsoft moves completely to "Palladium", especially if the internet becomes TCPA-ified?
The bottom line is this. Computer and software makers are desperate to lock down the ability of modern computers until they are nothing more than paid content providing systems. This is not what computers were made for, they were made to be multifunctional, programmable devices with almost unlimited capabilities. Capabilities that the MPAA (motion picture assoc. of America) and RIAA (recording industry assoc. of America) want eliminated ASAP.
Finally, will TCPA create a black market for Fritz-less motherboards, or will it just make the last, fastest, Fritz-less computers the most popular on earth? I can imagine a big run on the last round on non-TCPA hardware as soon as it becomes known that all motherboards after a certain date must have the Fritz chip installed.
See this article for the technical explanation: "MS Palladium protects IT vendors, not you" http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/4/25940.html
Your Fritz-chip computer crashes, but somehow you lost the data key. Sorry, now all your DVDs, CDs, software, etc, are useless, because Fritz tied them to the key. . .
Would you want a PC that refused to boot because it detects some JPG picture you snagged from a copyrighted website? Or your kids rip a CD or download a song and then you're busted, locked out of your own PC? When it gets that bad, I'll go to a homebuilt PC and Linux, screw all of them that want to control my PC that I paid over a thousand dollars for! You can bet that all those hungry Taiwanese motherboard builders will be happy to offer chip-free versions, and non-restriced processor knockoffs as well.
Foreign Muslim Mass Murder terrorists have made travel a living hell for everybody, and now losers who feel they have a "right" to use copyrighted material are about to make computing a living hell for everybody else.
Talk about mixed feelings here.
I can't generate a whole lot of sympathy or outrage here...
Guess I'll be using Motorola G4 processors, then.
Microsoft wants to give the blood-sucking lawyers "hooks" into your computer. They want to sell bits of control over your system to the highest bidders. Is that what you want? What's the difference between a nameless, faceless lawyer controlling your system through DRM hardware and certificates, and some cracker controlling your system with Back Orifice? Do you think the lawyer has any more respect for you or your property than the cracker? Do you really think the lawyer is less likely to cause trouble for you than the cracker? The lawyer makes you sign away your rights (don't think you won't have to "accept" a contract signing away all your rights and freeing Intel, Microsoft, et al from all liability if their scheme destroys your data in order to use one of these systems) and has people with guns and jails to back up the agreement.
Too late, Microsoft, we're onto you.
But the government is hijacked by all manner of special interest in response to wrongdoing by a few s***heads.
I reserve my anger for them, since the odds of my controlling "rent-seeking" of government by special interest /"controllers" is nil. e.g. environmentalists, anti-smokers, etc.
The thieves who choose to operate on line created the problem.
Linux depends on a "General Public License", called a GPL.
As reported in the Register, (same source as cited above) this takes aim at linux by rendering it impracticle to continue with the GPL. Excerpts follow...
MS to eradicate GPL, hence Linux
By Thomas C Greene in Washington
Posted: 25/06/2002 at 22:30 GMT
Yesterday, as we all know, Microsoft fed an 'exclusive' story about its new 'Palladium' DRM/PKI Trust Machine to Newsweek hack Steven Levy (a guy who writes without irony of "high-level encryption"), presumably because they trusted him not to grasp the technology well enough to question it seriously. His un-critical announcement immediately sparked a flurry of articles considering what this means to the Windows user base.
But here's the diabolical bit. Linux distributors are going to lose big time if they remain faithful to the GPL. Palladium will either break the GPL, or if not, break Linux.
It's the very fact that this appears insoluble to me that helps me realize that MS has put tremendous, careful thought into it. To make the [internet] Linux-hostile, MS is taking dramatic steps to make it GPL-hostile. Very clever and admirably diabolical.
(The GPL or The GNU General Public License, created by Richard Stallman, serves as the de facto constitution for the Free Software movement. It covers the majority of Free Software/Open Source software and has become the legal and philosophical cornerstone of the Free Software community. From the GNU open source website)
Just a correction.
This creates a strong incentive for the power users to undercut the propaganda by releasing some nasty expolit that breaks this "security" (ideally, one to which only the new systems are vunlerable). Triggering the fritz-chip lockdown and popping up bogus warning messages which tell the user that all his files are "illegally pirated" would be just the thing to turn this crap radioactive -- and, since the creator's incentives are to err on the side of declaring any suspect file to be "pirated", it will probably be quite easy.
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