Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft

Sunday Times on the Intel issue

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Date:          Mon, 1 Feb 1999 18:13:25 GMT0BST
From:          "Yaman Akdeniz" <>
Subject:       Sunday Times on the Intel issue

Civil-rights leaders fear Intel's new chip will end privacy on the
Internet, writes Sean Hargrave. Big Brother chip faces  boycotts, The
Sunday Times, 31 January, 1999

INTEL is attempting to avoid an embarrassing boycott that could hamper
the launch of its new range of Pentium chips at the end of February. 

The company wants to assure civil-rights campaigners that privacy on
the Internet will not be compromised by a security feature inside the
new Pentium III chip that broadcasts a processor's serial number over
the Net. 

Civil-rights organisations are hostile to the device because they
claim it infringes every Net user's right to browse anonymously. 

In Arizona a Republican senator, Steve May, has gone so far as to
draft a bill to ban the chip from being sold in the state. 

British and American campaigners have already called for a boycott of
the Pentium III and are launching a campaign against the company
entitled "Big Brother Inside" - a play on the chipmaker's "Intel
Inside" logo. A web site will be launched
this week with a parody of the company's logo. 

In the face of such strong criticism Intel has already partly backed
down over the chip's security feature. Last week it announced Pentium
III PCs would come loaded with software allowing owners to disable it.
However, the company admits the chips will still reach customers with
the security feature switched on, leaving the onus on the owner to
switch it off. It also admits that the software to turn it off will
not be included in the first batches of machines, though it can be
downloaded from Intel's web site. 

British activists, like their American counterparts, claim this action
is too little, too late. Simon Davies, a campaigner with Privacy
International in London, labels the new chip "the tool of a dictator".
He is urging British consumers to boycott the Pentium III to deter
companies from producing equipment that could be used to compromise
Net privacy. 

"This new chip is just part of a trend away from privacy on the Net
that has to be combated," he says. "We believe the Net should be a
place where people can browse without sites knowing their identity. 

"It's not just this chip we're worried about. It's the principle and
the possibility of misuse. It's all right for Intel, a huge American
firm, to say privacy isn't affected. They live in a democracy where
human rights are respected. We're especially concerned to establish a
private, free Internet for people in countries such as China and
Thailand and technology like this could be misused to track Net

Intel claims the campaigners are mistaken. It says the new facility
can only identify a computer. It cannot allow the online habits of a
user to be tracked. 

"It is there to give more security to people online," says Andrew
Thomas of Intel. "An ideal use would be for credit-card companies and
banks to identify a customer. They would know the serial numbers of
the computers a person uses and not accept transactions from other
terminals. It would mean somebody who steals your credit card would
not be able to go online and buy through another computer." 

 Yaman Akdeniz, a leading British Net lawyer and civil-rights
 campaigner, will meet Intel representatives on Wednesday to discuss
 what Intel would have to do to put an end to calls for the Pentium
 III to be boycotted in Britain. 

"I can't really see the company changing its plans at this late
stage," he says. "If that is the case, the best thing they could do is
at least supply the chips with the default set to off, so people would
have to turn it on if they want it."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Yaman Akdeniz
<> Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) at:

Read the new CR&CL (UK) Report, Who Watches the Watchmen, Part:II
Accountability & Effective Self-Regulation in the Information Age,
August 1998 at