You think Sony would learn. First it was the root-kit, now it’s the Sony Vaio laptop.

Sony’s position on it is that Sony engineers were, “concerned that enabling VT would expose our systems to malicious code that could go very deep in the Operating System structure of the PC and completely disable the latter.”

Some owners have demanded refunds while others are going further and calling for a class-action lawsuit, alleging the company was not clear on the fact that the VAIO machines were made incapable of using a core feature of the Intel Core 2 Duo chip inside.

It’s amazing. Back in 2005, I wrote about trusted computing, citing the work of Richard Stallman….

He describes treacherous computing in this way:

The technical idea underlying treacherous computing is that the computer includes a digital encryption and signature device, and the keys are kept secret from you. Proprietary programs will use this device to control which other programs you can run, which documents or data you can access, and what programs you can pass them to. These programs will continually download new authorization rules through the Internet, and impose those rules automatically on your work. If you don’t allow your computer to obtain the new rules periodically from the Internet, some capabilities will automatically cease to function.

Programs that use treacherous computing will continually download new authorization rules through the Internet, and impose those rules automatically on your work. If Microsoft, or the US government, does not like what you said in a document you wrote, they could post new instructions telling all computers to refuse to let anyone read that document. Each computer would obey when it downloads the new instructions. Your writing would be subject to 1984-style retroactive erasure. You might be unable to read it yourself.

Treacherous computing puts the existence of free operating systems and free applications at risk, because you may not be able to run them at all. Some versions of treacherous computing would require the operating system to be specifically authorized by a particular company. Free operating systems could not be installed. Some versions of treacherous computing would require every program to be specifically authorized by the operating system developer. You could not run free applications on such a system. If you did figure out how, and told someone, that could be a crime.

View this animated video short is easy to understand. Check it out…here’s a bit from the Against Trusted Computing Platform Alliance (TCPA):

…every computer will have a TPM (Trusted Platform Module), also known as Fritz-Chip, built-in. At later development stages, these functions will be directly included into CPUs, graphiccards, harddisks, soundcards, bios and so on. This secures that the TCPA can prevent any unwanted software and hardware. The long term result will be that it will be impossible to use hardware and software that’s not approved by the TCPA. Therefore open-source and freeware would be condemned to die, because without such a certification the software will simply not work. In the long term only the big companies would survive and could control the market as they would like.

Great job, Sony! You’ve made Stallman’s prediction come true!

Subscribe to Around the

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure