Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Are You Selling This Computer to Me or the RIAA?

(I wrote this a few weeks back, and forgot to post it. It’s even more fun with the bruhahaha about Sony/BMG screwing with your computer if you buy their “music.”)

In conversation with Lucky Green, he commented that “You won’t be able to buy a laptop w/o a TPM in a few years.” This doesn’t make me happy. The “Traitorous Processor Module,” as currently defined, is designed to allow a computer on the other side of the internet to make decisions about what you can do with ‘your’ computer. The nominal purpose of this is to allow someone (the RIAA) to decide if they want to allow your software to play music, video, or other ‘content.’ (See the EFF’s page on ‘Digital Rights Management.’)

Even if I use no software that betrays me and my privacy like that, I don’t want to have to pay for the chips. I don’t want to waste space on my motherboard. I don’t want to feed them electrons, draining my battery for such traitorous nonsense.

So what can we do?

It seems to me that we have to ensure that the costs are bourne by those who make the decisions. That’s not just not buying from them, it’s letting them know. And so, tomorrow, November 9th, the anniversary of both the fall of the Berlin Wall and Kristalnacht, I’m going to call everyone who’s selling a TPM-enabled laptop, and ask them what I can buy that doesn’t have that chip in it.

Each call to a call center costs between 30 and 50 dollars. I’ll be starting with Sony, for reasons which should be obvious.

One comment on "Are You Selling This Computer to Me or the RIAA?"

  • Dave says:

    So are you going to be posting a list of the companies you’ll be annoying tomorrow? It’d be handy for the rest of us who don’t have this kind of information to hand.

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