http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~rja14/tcpa-faq.html Version 0.1 26 June 2002 1. What are TCPA and Palladium? TCPA stands for the Trusted Computing Platform Alliance (TCPA), an initiative led by Intel. Their website is here. Their stated goal is `a new computing platform for the next century that will provide for improved trust in the PC platform.' Palladium appears to be a Microsoft version which will be rolled out in future versions of Windows, will build on TCPA hardware, and will add some extra features. The Palladium announcement appears to have been provoked by a paper I presented on the security issues relating to open source and free software at a conference on Open Source Software Economics in Toulouse on the 20th June. This paper criticised TCPA as anticompetitive. This has been amply confirmed by new revelations over the past few days. 2. What does TCPA / Palladium do, in ordinary English? Its obvious application is to embed digital rights management (DRM) technology in the PC. The less obvious implications include making it easier for application software vendors to lock in their users. 3. So I won't be able to play MP3s on my PC any more? With existing MP3s, you may be all right for some time. But in future, TCPA / Palladium will make it easier to sell music, movies, books and other content packaged so that people can play them on their PCs but not copy them. You might be allowed to lend your copy of some digital music to a friend, but then your own backup copy won't be playable until your friend gives you the main copy back. Quite possibly you will not be able to lend music at all. (It looks likely that the music publisher will be able to make the rules - and to change them at will by remote control.) 4. How does it work? TCPA provides for a monitoring component to be mounted in future PCs. The likely implementation in the first phase of TCPA is a `Fritz' chip - a smartcard chip or dongle soldered to the motherboard. When you boot up your PC, Fritz takes charge. He checks that the boot ROM is as expected, executes it, measures the state of the machine; then checks the first part of the operating system, loads and executes it, checks the state of the machine; and so on. The trust boundary, of hardware and software considered to be known and verified, is steadily expanded. A table is maintained of the hardware (audio card, video card etc) and the software (O/S, drivers, etc); if there are significant changes, the machine must be re-certified. The result is a PC booted into a known state with an approved combination of hardware and software. Control is then handed over to enforcement software in the operating system - this is presumably Palladium if your operating system in Windows. Once the machine is in this state, Fritz can certify it to third parties: for example, he will do an authentication protocol with Disney to prove that his machine is a suitable recipient of `Snow White'. The Disney server then sends encrypted data, with a key that Fritz will use to unseal it. Fritz makes the key available only so long as the environment remains `trustworthy'. For this purpose, `trustworthy' means that the media player application won't make any unauthorised copies of content. [...] - ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org To unsubscribe email majordomoat_private with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY of the mail.
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