[Fwd: Re: sad treacherous computing day]

simo simo.sorce at xsec.it
Thu May 10 13:12:38 UTC 2007

On Thu, 2007-05-10 at 14:46 +0200, arc wrote:
> Ben Finney wrote:
> > RMS wrote:
> >>     Can TC be used to enhance security if it's used with free
> >>     software?
> >>
> >> If you can do this without contributing to any tendency to
> >> legitimize treacherous computing, then it is harmless.  But you must
> >> MAKE SURE you don't contribute to such a tendency.  Don't leave it
> >> to chance!
> > 
> > The purchase of the hardware, and the legitimisation of treacherous 
> > computing that results, is not improved by the control you speak of. 
> > 
> > "So long as I have control of my hardware, I'm alright Jack" doesn't 
> > reduce the tendency to produce and propagate this stuff, just like it 
> > doesn't get rid of proprietary software.
> The main point is:
> if we use a tc device, are we contributing to legitimate the use of 
> those devices?

If you use it in a positive way, certainly.

> Who draws the line?

The user, if _you_ control it, it is positive, if _you_ (and by you I
mean the legal owner, be it a physical or a legal person) don't, no it
is not good and becomes treacherous.

> It's very difficult, once you have a tc device to speak clearly against it.

I don;t speak against my FSFE-Fellow Smart card.

> If you say: "all right, I have this tc device but I use it only with 
> free software" how can you be sure that people (who NEVER pay so much 
> attention to the words) don't get this sentence as
> "tc devices are ok, my friend has one and it's harmless"?

Generally, it is not the software you use that matters. It's who
controls the keys and the chip. The way you address the problem only
confuses people without clear guidance.

> Consider the fact that the majority of people unaware of this dangers 
> are Windows users, not GNU users.
> And tc in combination with proprietary software... you know. :)

The TC in ThinkPads need proprietary software do be really dangerous,
but that's not the TPM Stallman fears. That's Palladium (or whatever the
last name) where even Free Software wouldn't make any difference,
because the control starts at boot in hardware before any software is

> I think the risk is too high and the benefits too low.

I think people should concentrate on making other people aware of the
problem (and clear it up themselves), but current laptops have nothing
bad. TiVo machines are an example of bad hardware, those should be


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