The day is approaching fast (likely the release date of Microsoft’s next version of its Windows operating system, called Windows Vista) on which a so-called trusted platform module on your computer’s motherboard will be able bar you from accessing the data on your computer, or at least bar you from doing with it what you want to do, if what you want to do does not comply with the rules embedded in it.
This is on the one hand a consequence of the entertainment industry’s global strategy to reduce the utility of their products to be able to command higher prices for them, and on the other an attempt to increase the security of data on a computer – in case you would not be able to access your files, it would be rather certain that no one else would be either.
Well, don’t be too sure.
There’s a chance your government might be happy to act as a lock and key service BBC is reporting today –
“UK officials are talking to Microsoft over fears the new version of Windows could make it harder for police to read suspects’ computer files. Windows Vista is due to be rolled out later this year. Cambridge academic Ross Anderson told MPs it would mean more computer files being encrypted.
He urged the government to look at establishing “back door” ways of getting around encryptions.
The Home Office later told the BBC News website it is in talks with Microsoft.”
Some wise security advisor once explained that, just as with printed paper, if the value of the information you want to keep private exceeds the value of the hardware it’s stored on, there’s only one way to make sure the information stays private: burn, shred or otherwise physically destroy the media the information is stored on. So this is probably a good day for hard drive manufacturers. And I suppose it is a good day for open source operating systems – the penguin will be smiling.
Remembering how a German census was blocked by the constitutional court in 1983 (Wikipedia, in German) because of concerns about informational self determination, I am still puzzled to see how most people’s attitude towards privacy were corrupted by increased interaction with technology – just this week, news appeared (FT) of a Chicago security firm having “tagged” its workforce with RFID chips “as a way of controlling access to a room where it holds security video footage for government agencies and the police.”