The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

23 October 2002

Computing worthy of trust

When Microsoft announced its Palladium ("Trustworthy Computing") initiative, the cynics among us reacted predictably: Redmond's plan to (among other things) build anti-copying technology into both operating system and hardware was greeted with exactly the sort of grumbling you'd expect when industry Goliaths huddle to plot against individual Davids.

"Digital rights management," the current euphemism for thwarting fair use, is of course part of Palladium, but what concerned some of the cypherpunks was the possibility that enforcement of software licenses might be on the menu as well. (Anyone who has suffered through the Windows XP "activation" farce should fear this prospect.) Microsoft denies such a thing is being planned, but just in case, a member of the opposition went ahead and filed patents for software-license management based on what is known about the Palladium architecture. Needless to say, the patent holder, Lucky Green, is not interested in managing software licenses; his goal is to keep Microsoft at bay. Whether this will work is arguable, but I persist in believing that keeping PCs as open as possible is a Good Thing.

Posted at 7:14 AM to PEBKAC