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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Now They Can Tell You're A Dog

There's an interesting piece at MSNBC.com about anonymity on the Internet. There's an old (at least in nerd years) saying that "on the Internet, no one can tell you're a dog". According to the MSNBC piece, that could soon be changing. Newer computers will likely come with a non-removable chip called a Trusted Platform Module, or TPM:
...by the end of this decade, a TPM will almost certainly be part of your desktop, laptop and even cell phone.The TPM chip was created by a coalition of over one hundred hardware and software companies, led by AMD, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Microsoft and Sun. The chip permanently assigns a unique and permanent identifier to every computer before it leaves the factory and that identifier can'’t subsequently be changed. It also checks the software running on the computer to make sure it hasn't been altered to act malevolently when it connects to other machines: that it can, in short, be trusted
So, the days of the totally anonymous Internet interactions may be coming to an end. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I can easily see civil libertarians getting all lathered up over the loss of anonymity. I can also imagine a couple of other things happening - there will be programs developed that can mask a computer's ID, or a market might develop for machines without the chip.

But the question would then be, if you had a chance to reveal or mask your identity (and people could know that you're masking it) would they treat you differently? I know that when a call comes into our house where caller ID is blocked, we often don'answerer it, assuming that it's telemarketerer.

Here's the MSNBC article.

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