Treacherous computing puts the existence of free operating systems and free applications at risk, because you may not be able to run them at all. Some versions of treacherous computing would require the operating system to be specifically authorized by a particular company. Free operating systems could not be installed. Some versions of treacherous computing would require every program to be specifically authorized by the operating system developer. You could not run free applications on such a system. If you did figure out how, and told someone, that could be a crime.
There are proposals already for U.S. laws that would require all computers to support treacherous computing, and to prohibit connecting old computers to the Internet. The CBDTPA (we call it the Consume But Don't Try Programming Act) is one of them. But even if they don't legally force you to switch to treacherous computing, the pressure to accept it may be enormous. Today people often use Word format for communication, although this causes several sorts of problems (see http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/no-word-attachments.html). If only a treacherous computing machine can read the latest Word documents, many people will switch to it, if they view the situation only in terms of individual action (take it or leave it). To oppose treacherous computing, we must join together and confront the situation as a collective choice.
For further information about treacherous computing, see http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/users/rja14/tcpa-faq.html.
To block treacherous computing will require large numbers of citizens to organize. We need your help! The Electronic Frontier Foundation (www.eff.org) and Public Knowledge (www.publicknowledge.org) are campaigning against treacherous computing, and so is the FSF-sponsored Digital Speech Project (www.digitalspeech.org). Please visit these Web sites so you can sign up to support their work.
You can also help by writing to the public affairs offices of Intel, IBM, HP/Compaq, or anyone you have bought a computer from, explaining that you don't want to be pressured to buy "trusted" computing systems so you don't want them to produce any. This can bring consumer power to bear. If you do this on your own, please send copies of your letters to the organizations above.
1. The GNU Project distributes the GNU Privacy Guard, a program that implements public-key encryption and digital signatures, which you can use to send secure and private email. It is useful to explore how GPG differs from treacherous computing, and see what makes one helpful and the other so dangerous.
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