01.06.2003 12:00 PM
Germans fear Microsoft's “trusted” Palladium technology



The Palladium architecture relies on a “trusted” computing paradigm for tasks such as copying and distributing data. Critics of the PC lockdown technology contend it can be used as a “big brother” that prevents PC users from accessing material stored on their own computers if they have not met licensing and other requirements demanded by content owners.

Microsoft’s new Palladium PC technology is supposedly designed to enhance online security by integrating copy protection circuitry into the hardware of personal computers. The global software company has touted it as a necessary solution for protecting the interests of Hollywood film and television studios that fear their programming will be pirated through trading over the Internet.

Now the German government is worried that the adoption by federal agencies of Palladium security technology will lead to higher computing costs and an extension of Microsoft’s monopoly. Germany's Ministry of Economics and Labor said in a letter to the Bundestag, or parliament, that widespread adoption of Palladium raises the “danger that applications of software for new high-security PCs require a license by Microsoft, resulting in high costs.”

The Palladium architecture relies on a “trusted” computing paradigm for tasks such as copying and distributing data. Critics of the PC lockdown technology contend it can be used as a “big brother” that prevents PC users from accessing material stored on their own computers if they have not met licensing and other requirements demanded by content owners.

The White House has endorsed the concept of hardware-based computer security, but wants even greater control than that proposed by Microsoft. White House cybersecurity chief Richard Clarke recently said trusted computing proposals are “a good beginning, but it’s not enough.”

The Germans also expressed concern about Palladium's potential to create “substantial obstacles to market entry” to operating systems that compete with Microsoft’s Windows. Unlike the U.S., many European countries prefer open source operating systems, such as Linux, which are not owned and controlled by a single company.

Microsoft said it is committed to working with the German government to resolve any differences.

For more information visit www.microsoft.com

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