The PentiumIII processor now expected to be released in March 1999, will have new features: a unique serial number and a random number generator. Will big brother be watching you via these new cpu additions?
PentiumIII - is Big Brother watching?
The PentiumIII processor now expected to be released in March 1999, will have new features: unique serial number and a "random number generator." So, what does this mean for the average computer user?
Intel believes this will provide greater security for Internet transactions for the home user. Intel publicly states that these new features will foster the growth of electronic commerce and other Internet-based transactions.
The random number generator is intended to work with the current and future encryption technology to replace software based encryption, which claimed to be fool-proof by today's standards, may become at-risk to future software hacking technology, (I am sorry to use the term hacker in this form, as it is too often overused and misguided). The number generator is intended to give the user true confirmed encryption for transactions.
It is the second item that I personally find distasteful. In assigning a serial number to CPUs that will be transmitted during all uses of the Internet as a signature of the user's machine, each computer/user's Internet activity can be tracked. Intel believes this provides security for bank transactions, Internet E-commerce, health care provides and the like in releasing sensitive information requested by the user. Further Intel reports this will provide a tool to recover stolen computers, (but only if they are used on the Internet).
Business, governments and anyone else seeking to generate data about individuals will be able to easily trace each user's activity on the Internet. The CPU ID number will be sent with each peice of E-mail, extracted when visiting a web site or any of the myriad of other Internet activities. The average Internet user's activities will be traced, compiled and huge data bases contructed with demographics to be sold to marketing firms or governments. Is this security for the Individual or a means to target more electronic advertising to the average user? Is this just another means for governments to garner vast data bases about individual's activities on the Internet, raw data about each individual? Is this just paranoia or are we making one more step toward Orwell's oft times referred "Big Brother is watching?" Is Big Brother really the government or is it the growing control of the Internet by commercial/business concerns?
Intel quickly points out that the ID number can be disabled, using a feature in the PC's operating system software. New PCs will be sold with this feature "switched on" as default. Will switching off the ID number be practical? I can invision ISPs, domains, back bone providers, web sites and others requiring the ID number to be enabled to allow access by users. Further, for the average person computers and the Internet is already too complicated. They will not even be aware they can switch off the ID number. The infamous "Clipper chip" technology that was soundly turned down publicly by Americans as an intrusion into their privacy is quitely being replaced by Intel's new PentiumIII features. Big Brother is not just watching, they are activily designing tools to follow you into the future and Intel is privately providing the Clipper chip features in the new PentiumIII CPUs. Quietly, the technology Americans refused to allow by law is being added by Intel.