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Can you trust your computer?

Monday October 21, 2002 (04:14 PM GMT)

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-By Richard Stallman -
Who should your computer take its orders from? Most people think their computers should obey them, not obey someone else. With a plan they call "trusted computing," large media corporations (including the movie companies and record companies), together with computer companies such as Microsoft and Intel, are planning to make your computer obey them instead of you. Proprietary programs have included malicious features before, but this plan would make it universal.

Proprietary
software means, fundamentally, that you don't control what it does; you can't study the source code, or change it. It's not surprising that clever businessmen find ways to use their control to put you at a disadvantage. Microsoft has done this several times: one version of Windows was designed to report to Microsoft all the software on your hard disk; a recent "security" upgrade in Windows Media Player required users to agree to new restrictions. But Microsoft is not alone: the KaZaa music-sharing software is designed so that KaZaa's business partner can rent out the use of your computer to their clients. These malicious features are often secret, but even once you know about them it is hard to remove them, since you don't have the source code.

In the past, these were isolated incidents. "Trusted computing" would make it pervasive. "Treacherous computing" is a more appropriate name, because the plan is designed to make sure your computer will systematically disobey you. In fact, it is designed to stop your computer from functioning as a general-purpose computer. Every operation may require explicit permission.

The technical idea underlying treacherous computing is that the computer includes a digital encryption and signature device, and the keys are kept secret from you. (Microsoft's version of this is called "palladium.") Proprietary programs will use this device to control which other programs you can run, which documents or data you can access, and what programs you can pass them to. These programs will continually download new authorization rules through the Internet, and impose those rules automatically on your work. If you don't allow your computer to obtain the new rules periodically from the Internet, some capabilities will automatically cease to function.

Of course, Hollywood and the record companies plan to use treacherous computing for "DRM" (Digital Restrictions Management), so that downloaded videos and music can be played only on one specified computer. Sharing will be entirely impossible, at least using the authorized files that you would get from those companies. You, the public, ought to have both the freedom and the ability to share these things. (I expect that someone will find a way to produce unencrypted versions, and to upload and share them, so DRM will not entirely succeed, but that is no excuse for the system.)

Making sharing impossible is bad enough, but it gets worse. There are plans to use the same facility for email and documents -- resulting in email that disappears in two weeks, or documents that can only be read on the computers in one company.

Imagine if you get an email from your boss telling you to do something that you think is risky; a month later, when it backfires, you can't use the email to show that the decision was not yours. "Getting it in writing" doesn't protect you when the order is written in disappearing ink.

Imagine if you get an email from your boss stating a policy that is illegal or morally outrageous, such as to shred your company's audit documents, or to allow a dangerous threat to your country to move forward unchecked. Today you can send this to a reporter and expose the activity. With treacherous computing, the reporter won't be able to read the document; her computer will refuse to obey her. Treacherous computing becomes a paradise for corruption.

Word processors such as Microsoft Word could use treacherous computing when they save your documents, to make sure no competing word processors can read them. Today we must figure out the secrets of Word format by laborious experiments in order to make free word processors read Word documents. If Word encrypts documents using treacherous computing when saving them, the free software community won't have a chance of developing software to read them -- and if we could, such programs might even be forbidden by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Programs that use treacherous computing will continually download new authorization rules through the Internet, and impose those rules automatically on your work. If Microsoft, or the U.S. government, does not like what you said in a document you wrote, they could post new instructions telling all computers to refuse to let anyone read that document. Each computer would obey when it downloads the new instructions. Your writing would be subject to 1984-style retroactive erasure. You might be unable to read it yourself.

You might think you can find out what nasty things a treacherous computing application does, study how painful they are, and decide whether to accept them. It would be short-sighted and foolish to accept, but the point is that the deal you think you are making won't stand still. Once you come depend on using the program, you are hooked and they know it; then they can change the deal. Some applications will automatically download upgrades that will do something different -- and they won't give you a choice about whether to upgrade.

Today you can avoid being restricted by proprietary software by not using it. If you run GNU/Linux or another free operating system, and if you avoid installing proprietary applications on it, then you are in charge of what your computer does. If a free program has a malicious feature, other developers in the community will take it out, and you can use the corrected version. You can also run free application programs and tools on non-free operating systems; this falls short of fully giving you freedom, but many users do it.

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.

Postscripts:

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.

When someone uses GPG to send you an encrypted document, and you use GPG to decode it, the result is an unencrypted document that you can read, forward, copy, and even re-encrypt to send it securely to someone else. A treacherous computing application would let you read the words on the screen, but would not let you produce an unencrypted document that you could use in other ways. GPG, a free software package, makes security features available to the users; they use it. Treacherous computing is designed to impose restrictions on the users; it uses them.

2. Microsoft presents Palladium as a security measure, and claims that it will protect against viruses, but this claim is evidently false. A presentation by Microsoft Research in October 2002 stated that one of the specifications of Palladium is that existing operating systems and applications will continue to run; therefore, viruses will continue to be able to do all the things that they can do today.

When Microsoft speaks of "security" in connection with Palladium, they do not mean what we normally mean by that word: protecting your machine from things you do not want. They mean protecting your copies of data on your machine from access by you in ways others do not want. A slide in the presentation listed several types of secrets Palladium could be used to keep, including "third party secrets" and "user secrets" -- but it put "user secrets" in quotation marks, recognizing that this is not what Palladium is really designed for.

The presentation made frequent use of other terms that we frequently associate with the context of security, such as "attack," "malicious code," "spoofing," as well as "trusted." None of them means what it normally means. "Attack" doesn't mean someone trying to hurt you, it means you trying to copy music. "Malicious code" means code installed by you to do what someone else doesn't want your machine to do. "Spoofing" doesn't mean someone fooling you, it means you fooling Palladium. And so on.

3. A previous statement by the Palladium developers stated the basic premise that whoever developed or collected information should have total control of how you use it. This would represent a revolutionary overturn of past ideas of ethics and of the legal system, and create an unprecedented system of control. The specific problems of these systems are no accident; they result from the basic goal. It is the goal we must reject.

Copyright 2002 Richard Stallman
Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted without royalty in any medium provided this notice is preserved.

Editor's note: This article first appeared in Richard Stallman's new book, "Free Software, Free Society." This is the first time the article has appeared online, and Stallman has added some new material.

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(1) | 2 (NewsForge Overload: CommentLimit 50)
Can You trust your Computer (Score:0)
By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.21 11:50 (#30564)
It allmost seems unreal that we seem to be moveing into the BIG BROTHER PHASE in America. It saddens me to watch this if not olny for the fact that it will lead to drastic measures to regain FREEDOM.
                  WAR ANYONE?? NO GIVE THEM CAKE.
What ever happened to Inocient till proven guilty.
Also couldent this view on law be used for guns also.
Kudos to RMS! (Score:1)
By HarryLeBlanc (4934) on 2002.10.21 11:52 (#30565)
This is incisive analysis of "trusted" computing, and of free software's importance to free speech. Many people knock RMS for extreme positions, but I for one salute him for steadfast principles. Whether we like it or not, computing is politics and economics, not just science and technology. The computer industry's slide down that slippery slope is accelerating, and will only get harder to stop if we keep doing and saying nothing. I only hope that RMS's views can reach readers outside the geek press.
Microsoft site was hacked (Score:1)
By kshim5 (144917) on 2002.10.21 11:53 (#30566)
From NewsFactor (first seen on OSINT) --
http://www.newsfactor.com/perl/story/19707.html

Microsoft Beta Software Site Hacked
Microsoft's password-protected beta test site, where software can be tested before it hits the market, has been hacked, forcing Microsoft to
issue new passwords to more than 20,000 members of its developer networks.
New versions of .NET, Windows XP and other software were reportedly downloaded without authorization, as were experimental software
programs that have not been made public yet.
Microsoft emphasized that no source code was compromised in the breach and that the stolen software will be problematic to use and copy as a
result.

I wouldnt buy microcrap os if it was on sale for .5 cents what a bunch of idiots i know some hacker is havind fun with all their latest software right now
bravo (Score:0)
By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.21 11:55 (#30567)
RMS has somewhat of a reputation for being a pedantic extremist, but in this case he appears to have hit the nail on the head and shown just how much of a threat some of the technologies developing today really are. I've found RMS' writings like this are generally very good: check out the right to read [gnu.org] for another good example.
  • Indeed by Anonymous Reader (Score:0) 2002.10.22 1:29
    • Re:Indeed by fitzix (Score:1) 2002.10.22 16:54
    • Re:bravo by Anonymous Reader (Score:0) 2002.10.22 16:36
      Say Global Programers STRIKE Anyone (Score:0)
      By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.21 11:55 (#30568)
      You are the people that need to make the stand.
      brilliant (Score:0)
      By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.21 12:18 (#30569)
      if ms and its loyal distributors of hardware want to ensure that i stop upgrading my hardware, this is the way to do it. if they want me to start using openoffice.org full time, this is the way to do it. if they want me to start spending more time learning to use my linux box, this is the way to do it. if they want to guarantee that every little cracker baby out there has a singular target, this is the way to do it. and if these self-righteous, unethical career politicians, that for some reason people keep voting for, decide they want to get in on the act...watch out.
      Who else is doing this? (Score:0)
      By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.21 12:40 (#30576)
      "If Microsoft, or the U.S. government, does not like what you said in a document you wrote, they could post new instructions telling all computers to refuse to let anyone read that document. Each computer would obey when it downloads the new instructions. Your writing would be subject to 1984-style retroactive erasure."

      You mean like they do here on newsforge?
      PCs, appliances, service providers (Score:0)
      By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.21 12:55 (#30582)
      Stallman makes some good points. I am worried a little about my next PC (especially if it runs XP or Longhorn), but the action is increasingly turning to embedded devices like TVs, DVD players, and car stereos. Here the insistence on open source isn't as helpful - chances are you won't be able to compile some source and load it into your car stereo, for instance. Service providers for cable and web-based programming likewise can track everything we do. Seems like this is getting more into EFF as opposed to the classic FSF territory for advocacy.
      Can You trust your Computer ? (Score:0)
      By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.21 14:43 (#30596)
      First of all i will never ever buy micro$oft os i wouldn't take it from any one for free, so the the government can put back doors or microcrap can put back doors in there os until they all go to hell i'll stick with linux what alot of these rusty old farts that are in congress since abe lincoln(some of them might even know abe himself)was president dont understand is that todays generation is 100000 times smarter than they were growing up in some backwoods part of some mountian lodge will take advantage of the same technology that ther'e using to "protect therir" products from piracy will just enable more hackers eaisier access to other computers on the network doesn't anybody at micro crap think ?.
      In my country the problem will be worse (Score:1)
      By anirban_c8 (74416) on 2002.10.21 16:02 (#30605)
      The problem is more greate India as a 3 rd World developing country , not only the M$ & other evil companies will be able to spy on the user of their product but they will set very high price for their s/ws & since as a drug adict the user will be so hooked to these softwares that they have to pay for it or have to use pirated one which are often causes problems & pirated software is a greate risk for business organization as M$ can pull them to court.

      That is why I use GNU/linux ( also it is a greate OS) & my ( I am a student ) college had these problem earlier & now Linux is every where in my college.

      Now also thanks to RMS & also comming to my country some monthes ago , though I missed the seminer as it was in bangalore & I lives in Calcutta.

      Anirban Biswas.
      What is necessary (Score:0)
      By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.21 16:05 (#30606)
      The most inportant thing IMHO is that governments should mandate that all their documents should be done in open source formats. No one should require a specific proprietary product to be able to access information. This is treachoruos in every way. One reason M$ is dominant is that it is given the platform to be able to.
      Reverse engineering should explicitly be allowed. This is very different from copying. At the rate things are moving, it will be illegal to make software that operates in a similar way to other software.
      I think consumers must wholly refuse to accept initiatives such as palladium. Vote with your dollars. Don't buy the palladium systems. And I am sure there are alternatives to M$. Many platforms to choose from. Think RISC.
      Lastly the Linux community must not kid itself and think that people will just run to Linux if M$ goes ahead with its outrageous plan. We must develop software that is as feature rich as in the proprietary world, even if it means that at times it is less secure and so on. That is the basis of choice. If you want people to use Linux then you should cater for those who might not want to configure their ftp servers in some text file. Cater for everyone.

        I'll switch to paper. (Score:0)
        By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.21 16:07 (#30607)
        If something like that would ever happens,
        I'll swicth back to plain paper, and let the no
        brain people to use my pc ;-)

        Good but not great (Score:0)
        By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.21 16:37 (#30611)

        "The specific problems of these systems are no accident; they result from the basic goal. It is the goal we must reject."

        I think he could have used a copy editor in several places. For example, in the above text what is "the goal". He needs to explicit refer back to "the goal" by either stating "that goal" or explicity restating what is the "goal" of treacherous computing.

        Free or Free? (Score:0)
        By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.21 17:11 (#30617)
        RMS makes a good argument here. But the FSF also hides it's goals and tries to play tricks on people, even the ones they support.

        To begin with, the name 'Free Software Foundation' is a mockery of the word 'free'. If they really wanted _free_ software they wouldn't impose on the programmers that the source code has to be available in_all_derivative work. To me the BSD-license is the only one that really gives you free software in it's true sense.

        Regarding the latter, is a very good article [altlinux.ru] written by Ulrich Drepper. It describes how RMS tried to force himself into control of glibc.

        What I would like RMS to answer is: Do you want "free" software or _free_ software and the free programmers that brings?

        //Christian
        m$ (Score:0)
        By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.21 17:22 (#30620)
        two words:

        corporate communism

        This is now a question of digital freedom and civil liberties. If this thing becomes reality and enshrined in law, I for one will be an outlaw!
        • Re:m$ by Anonymous Reader (Score:0) 2002.10.21 19:25
          • Re:m$ by Anonymous Reader (Score:0) 2002.10.22 11:32
            • Re:m$ by fitzix (Score:1) 2002.10.22 17:37
            • Re:m$ by Anonymous Reader (Score:0) 2002.10.23 1:47
              • outlaws by Anonymous Reader (Score:0) 2002.10.25 5:38
                oh, the irony (Score:1)
                By gus3 (6166) on 2002.10.21 20:53 (#30638)
                ( http://gus3.typepad.com/ )
                As I read the article, and indeed even as I type this now, the pages have a Microsoft ad: "Get Microsoft behind your business." Either someone at Linux.com is really twisted, or this is a great way to bite the hand that clubs you. Maybe both.
                Richard has made some really good points here (Score:0)
                By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.21 22:11 (#30643)
                I found this article provided the general hindsight and information others need to pay attention before too late. As his point regarding GPG, I think it's indeed essential and important to understand in terms of security point of view. In a real world, there's no police forces I have known who can prevent all sort of crimes or solve all the cases. In other examples such as military, again resourceful doesn't mean sure winning either. The morale of all of this is I don't think we should let the corporate to overtake ALL the task of computer security for all of us. Microsoft could have made popular and easy to use OS, but if she wanted to transform into a business of providing computer and network security and yet to maintain this big and wide exposure, I don't think she could make it, nor should we seriously trust "security" into any one particular party - this is the morale of prudence in adopting security measures I believe.
                  Unrighteous research (Score:1)
                  By curlyhoward (165112) on 2002.10.21 23:23 (#30648)
                  Hi:

                  I heard about this project some time ago at CNN. Apparently, these people are trying to put on some code into OS and even microprocessor to prevent users from using the computers to share copyrighted material, saying it would also increase security and prevent virus infections. However, it is obvious that much more malicious intentions are behind all these ideas.
                  To my knowledge, current sponsors of this project are Microsoft (of course!) and Intel. What we MUST do is start using alternatives to these malicious companies trying to conquer all the digital traffic. Quit Windows, uninstall Office and get OpenOffice on going, get AMD processor (I personally like them better than Intel), but if we sleep and remain as lambs, these people are really going to hit us hard.
                  We MUST defend our cyber-rights, no matter what. Post comments like this one, support OpenSource software, and if things get nasty, then hack the trechearous code, fight fire with fire.
                  Right now, I use Red Hat 8.0, OpenOffice and I can share everything I want with everyone. The gap between Linux and Windows, as well as between Free applications and software like MS Office is getting smaller every day, so switching systems may not be so difficult in short time.
                  If this project succeds, there are going to be a lot of outlaws, and you bet I'll be one of them :-).

                  Thanks,
                  Curly Howard,
                  Costa Rica.
                  I bought my last Microsoft OS a long time ago... (Score:0)
                  By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.22 0:52 (#30655)
                  Mr. Stallman,

                  That is an excellent discourse on what will come with the age of "trusted" computing. As a longtime member of the world's first computer generation (My first system was an Atari 400 that had been customised and out-grown by my Father), I am thankful for the fantastic work being done by all the diverse people of the "Open Source & Free Software" Community. I want to say to all of you, "Great Job, and let's all keep the real progress going."

                  I have used and Administrated pretty much every operating system evironment that has been deployed widely in commercial environments, as a video game developer and software developer I have been forced to keep up with the cutting edge. This being said, contrary to the beliefs of Steve Ballmer and the FUD machine, the real innovation is being done every day, day in and day out by the members of the "Open Source and Free Software" Communities.

                  Every day this software progresses and offers new and inventive options that are under the control of the users. Unbeknownst to Steve Ballmer and the rest of his PR flaks and cronies, Linux, BSD, and hundreds of other notable "Free or Open Source" progress in stability, usefullness and capabilities. I can think of many of the products that are as good, or better than anything the propietary software vendors offer. These products get better all the time, adding features needed by users, responding to real world needs of those using the software, and benefitting from improvements and tweaks made by others.

                  I have continued to marvel at the improvements and progress of the Linux distros. Every revision seems to take true steps forward in quality, useability and innovation, things Microsoft has not been able to claim since Windows for Workgroups.

                  I have purchased my last Microsoft Product, It was contained in my Sony Vaio Multimedia Laptop, I waited until I could get a laptop running Windows 2000 pro, as my experience with other versions of their software told me that no other version of their OS was even close to acceptable. Even then, due to work compatibility issues, I had no other acceptable choice. Now I have another viable choice, If I have to, I will adopt my personal preferences company wide, and never buy another pre-built machine.. only ones I can have assembled in-house from components and install my own choice of Operating system, based on what work needs to be done, and where.

                  This is a good strategy for dealing with Palladium, only patronize vendors who sell clean machines, for personal or business use. DEMAND open standard components that meet your needs. Refuse to pay the Microsoft per-computer tax. Lets hit all the vendors in the only spot they ever listen too, thier wallets. Spread the word, no one wants these machines except the RIAA, and the other big media control cartels. Are they going to buy that "Palladium" machine for you? No, they might subsidise them, but the wont pay for you to have one. This is another big "DIVX" fiasco, a product they think is a real good idea, but seen as crippled by a public that has seen such scams before....

                  Refuse To Use Microsoft Products.. it really is that simple.

                  From Redmond
                  "Hiding from the Evil Flying MOnkeys"
                  eh (Score:0)
                  By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.22 3:06 (#30672)
                  revolution comes to mind if things persist.
                    What to do about MS (Score:0)
                    By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.22 3:14 (#30673)
                    Bar them from the OS scene and open source the crap. Maybe someone else can fix it.

                    Free as in speech
                    Want to know more... (Score:0)
                    By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.22 5:18 (#30680)
                    This article is very interesting indeed. It is very important that Trusted Computing doesn't take away our rights. So, I agree 100% with Richard about the fact that "We, the public, ought to have both the freedom and the ability to share these things. (I expect that someone will find a way to produce unencrypted versions, and to upload and share them, so DRM will not entirely succeed, but that is no excuse for the system.)".
                    I would therefore be very interested in reading your book (http://www.gnu.org/doc/book13.html). So, could you provide me with a URL where I can freely download it please?
                      THIS is the VERY reason why I switched (Score:1)
                      By TBethlehem (163700) on 2002.10.22 5:42 (#30683)
                      I started to see it coming down the not-too-distant road, this forced ethics/morals computing. It's my computer, my choice, my life. Nobody can tell me what I can and cannot do with my own property!

                      I just hope (and pray) that somehow, someway, m$ does something really stupid/bad and hurts their public image worldwide and they practically lose most of their user base. Maybe, just maybe, this whole DRM and pladium nonsense will be obvious to more than just the geeks. Maybe people will begin to find out that it's the "big brother" os.

                      People are all about keeping to themselves, not having morals/ethics shoved down their throats, doing what they want and when they want to (illegal or not). Hopefully this will backfire on m$! I just wish it would be sooner than later.
                      Thank you Richard. (Score:0)
                      By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.22 6:32 (#30689)
                      I met Richard in Brussels beginning of this year. I forgot to thank him at the time (and I wasn't the only one).
                       
                      The problem of western society is that it is driven by greed. When we have all we need, we are supposed to want more in order to keep the economy working, even if this is at the expense of every one else. I cannot imagine what Bill Gates and many of his share holders can need to make a decent living, and yet they want more even if this means forcing poor people in India, and other poor countries, to by their lousy software.
                       
                      At the conference in Brussels this year, someone asked Rms how he could make the same money while having his systems open sourced. Richard answered him that he probably couldn't, but that sometimes it is more important to make a living and to do what is moraly right than to make a lot of money. I think that this is what Richard and GNU are about. Let him have his radical points of view because till now he has been right. In a way Rms remind me of my friend David Duke. I think both are very intelligent and could have made a very good living but they preferred to be financially poor (I'm not sure for rms but I can tell you that david isn't wealthy) and stand for what they believe in.
                       
                      emmanuel
                      Rest of the world (Score:0)
                      By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.22 8:50 (#30708)
                      I would also like to understand how the whole system would work for computers that are outside the united states government control.
                      Ok, maybe it is time to act (Score:0)
                      By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.22 8:52 (#30709)
                      If Stallman is correct with his analysis and all signs seems to point that way. Then What? Using GNU linux would only be a stop gap. What happens to GNU when the hardware being offered has the treachery on the motherboard? Pretty much at that point Open Source has to die or come up with a way to develop open source hardware without the treachery built in.

                      Now long before that point EFF should be championing that any form of treachery software is a infringement on 1st admendment rights according in US law. As it is now DMA is leading us to a situation where physical property rights become secondary to IP rights. Who the hell voted for that? If that battle is lost pretty much the use of computers for non business purposes will slowly cease. Then have not the record and film industries killed the golden goose?

                      The suits had better look a little further down the road. An early win may ultimately ruin their futures in the digital age. Would it be better to live in a business where maybe 5% is lost to theft but you are able to deliver 95% in an ondemand digital delivery? In most industries that level of loss rate would be considered outrageously good fortune.

                      But I think Stallman has lost sight of one point. Why copy Microsoft? I understand that for most purposes right now MS Office is the defacto standard. But does it need to be that way? Many view Open Source as innovative. Why not leap beyond MS's offerings? Pull the usage of Open Source beyond the trappings of MS. In so doing, a migration away from MS will occur. Open Source will not win being just a 'Me Too' application platform.

                      The one tactical advantage that Open Source has over propiertary software is sheer size. A large team of volunteers can beat a paid for effort every time. MS knows this. That is why they are using the FUD tool all over the world. They realise that in a war for features, over the long haul the chance for them to lose is large. The economics of that war are to Open Sources favor. Use it....
                      Just wait until some cracker cracks that. (Score:0)
                      By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.22 10:54 (#30729)
                      The reason for this is that Windows is wholey holey. It was not designed for security. Most Windows users and corporations do not realize how cracked Windows really is.

                      My Issues with Mr. Stallmans Article (Score:1)
                      By Doctor Digital (158111) on 2002.10.22 11:20 (#30732)
                      Dear Mr. Stallman,

                      Your radical, pedantic, paranoid, and militant attitudes expressed in your article are, in my opinion patently optimistic. In this day and age when there are ads on the back of supermarket receipts, theatre popcorn bags, and quite soon I suppose, written in very small letters on the inside of the bottom of my soft drink can, I would put NOTHING past ANY government or corporate prostitute.

                      In a real court case I read about, there was an individual who had filed suit against a supermarket for falling on unlabeled wet floors. This supermarket apparently searched thier data regarding his purchases with his "Savings Card" (called this no doubt because they are saving the data gathered for their benefit, not the customers). They brought into evidence that his pruchases had frequently included beer and "inferred" that he was probably drunk when he fell. Wake up all, Big Brother is not only watching, but is now recording, categorizing, and datbasing the hell out the info! Trustworthy computing indeed. I actually purchased XP and upon reading the EULA during the first part of install, I rebooted and installed Linux. McSoft is not worthy of my trust. Many other companies are not either.

                      Open Source is not easy. The right thing to do frequently takes more effort. Linux and other tools sometimes don't appear to install as easy or are as usable as other products sometimes do. I personally have not found this to be the case particularly with new releases. Many Open Source apps are better and more well thought out than many proprietary ones. When the problem is perceived, it usually exsists for one of two reason:

                      • The product has to interface with a closed API or "non-standard standard". So the research to fully implement it takes longer.
                      • The product is being authored by a tiny band of folks (or single individual) that has only so much bandwidth and is probably working a regular job as well.


                      When my older sons were using chat tools to connect to AOL or other Chat sites, they usually were there to electronically yap back and forth about "This band sucks" or "This car is better than that car", I took the opportunity to show them X-Chat. I had written an article about it and other Linux-based Internet tools and gave them a crash course in what IRC is really like and how it started. When they found out they could create their own "rooms" (channels) and power of "ChanOp" status, they were dumbfounded. The new power they felt made them learn the rest fast. They also were then exposed to some intelligent chat about pertinent subjects. They got the double-whammy of knowledge. Learned a new tool and skill, plus got to exchange ideas with others on subjects that mattered.

                      My answer:

                      Look for markets that do not use Savings Cards or when asked for your saving card at a market that does, tell them that if you do not get the discount without the card you will take you business elsewhere. Buy produce from roadside stands were possible (its probably better anyway). Visit Co-Ops for other needs. Try not to be tempted to buy products with rebates as this is the other major method of data collection. Vote with your wallet and your ballot. Contact companies that may be a source for this "stealth" technology and make them aware that you will not purchase products or services from them if they supoprt this kind of backstabbing of there customers. I would love to see us stop altogether for a few months because that would send a hell of a message, but even if we just slow the sale of software, music, and video, the powers that be will get the idea that we are "Mad as hell and not going to take it anymore". This works especially well if we EMail companies and inform them why we are withholding the "keys" to our financial kingdom. We might just practice a little of what McSoft does all the time. Hit companies where thay live, in the wallet. Anybody have a current list of the names of the companies McSoft has put under with their "FUD and Financial" tactics? A modern companies' greatest fear is an informed consumer.

                      Contact ALL your local representatives, send them a copy of Richards article (with copyright info intact of course), and let them know they will not receive your vote or the vote of anyone you can talk out of it. Inform, Inform, Inform. Us Geeks are aware of a lot of technology. Teach relatives, friends, bosses, and total strangers about Open Source and whatever technology is available that can violate their privacy or place them at a disadvatage.

                      Finally, cultivate a sense of what you "need" as opposed to what you "want". Get involved in organizations that sponser youth activities. Get 'em while their young was Apples way of become a hit in schools. Volunteer to teach a class on Open Source software in a High School (they may already know at that age). Talk to people about what is going to be taken away from them. There are only two ways to generate true self esteem. One is to set a goal for oneself (or have one set for you) and accomplish that goal. The other is to do something that benefits someone else.

                      Remember the old adage "Your not paranoid if they really are out to get you". Also, contrary to what many of you may all think, I am not ready to move to the woods and buy ammo. All you need to do to get my attitude is read the Findings of Fact in the MCSoft vs. DOJ trail.

                      Doctor Digital

                      "Play fair, or get out of the game"
                      Hilarious (Score:0)
                      By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.22 11:31 (#30735)
                      I love the fact that as I was reading the article there was a nice large Microsoft Small Business Server had flashing in my face. Just poetic isn't it?
                        I hope this is stopped (Score:0)
                        By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.22 12:20 (#30751)
                        This is crazy, I thought this country was a democracy. This is something you would expect a comunist country to do. This goes angainst some of our freedoms. Of course most of the US lawmakers are greety so a big payoff might convince them to pass it.
                        Thought Crime (Score:0)
                        By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.22 12:23 (#30755)
                        After reading this, I can see a time in the very near future when we Linux
                        users will become thought criminals, criminals because we choose to think
                        as free people, not as $laves to M$ and Big Brother.
                        In the USSR typewriters and copiers had to be registered with the State.
                        If you were caught with and unregistered typewriter or copier you would get
                        a bullet in the back of the head from your friendly local KGB agent.

                        We will soon be moving into one of the most oppressive times that man has
                        ever know. Freedom of ANY sort will be a faint and quickly fading memory.
                        Dissenters will be "disappeared"
                        Only government approved media will be permitted. You will watch, read and
                        listen to only the things that are permitted and only in the ways and
                        places permitted under the new laws.

                        Soon, AIR (yes, the stuff you breath) will be taxed, restricted, and you
                        will have to sign a EULA to breath because AIR is a medium that may be used
                        to transport audio waves. Since ALL music and speech is restricted and
                        controlled, all mediums that may be used to transport music and speech will
                        be controlled. If you breach your AIR EULA they will take your AIR RIGHTS
                        away.

                        I'm not trying to be funny, I can see some jerk trying to pass a BS
                        law such as that. At some point in time this must come to a stop.
                        There are clauses in the Constitution that give LEGAL MEANS for the people
                        to oust an oppressive government. We quickly approach that point. I
                        suggest that people get copies of the constitution and read up on it very
                        carefully. Somewhere in there, like in maybe the FIRST AMMENDMENT, there
                        is some little mention about the right of free speech and press shall NOT
                        be infringed. It goes a little something like this.

                        (Maybe you should print this out and pass it to your friends, family and
                        even strangers, especially WINDOWS users....)

                        Of course to be sure I am committing a crime by posting this document.
                        If so, let them come and TRY to take me away for exercising my right to FREE
                        SPEECH. (Bring plenty of sack lunches, plenty of help and body bags...)

                        http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constituti on.billofrights.html
                        Amendment I

                          Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
                        prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech,
                        or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to
                        petition the government for a redress of grievances.

                        Amendment II

                          A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state,
                        the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

                        Amendment III

                          No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the
                        consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed
                        by law.

                        Amendment IV

                          The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and
                        effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated,
                        and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or
                        affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the
                        persons or things to be seized.

                        Amendment V

                          No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous
                        crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in
                        cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in
                        actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be
                        subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb;
                        nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against
                        himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process
                        of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just
                        compensation.

                        Amendment VI

                          In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy
                        and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein
                        the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been
                        previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause
                        of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have
                        compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the
                        assistance of counsel for his defense.

                        Amendment VII

                          In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty
                        dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried
                        by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States,
                        than according to the rules of the common law.

                        Amendment VIII

                          Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor
                        cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

                        Amendment IX

                          The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be
                        construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

                        Amendment X

                          The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor
                        prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or
                        to the people.
                          RMS being light handed (Score:0)
                          By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.22 13:05 (#30782)
                          Though I do aften agree with what RMS says in his writings, I often find his peices a little to 'heavy handed' for me. To my suprise, this artical seems almost sedated. It talks about the main problems with things like Palladium, and hints at the perifiary things that it could effect, but I think it doesn't go far enough. Something like Palladium has the ability, in a society so dependant on computers, to really change the fabric of how we live and who we are for the very worst. As I see it, something like this has no good thing to offer individuals, groups, people and consumers as a whole, or society in general. It just serves to prop up the aging monopolies of dinasaure companies that couldn't react to changeing markets. In all likely hood, the negative impacts of something like this scheme could destabalise the entire social structure of society. Far heavier stuff than anything RSM mentions.
                            Trust is earned, NOT assumed (Score:0)
                            By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.22 13:29 (#30790)
                            Several years ago, Intel had a plan to start shipping CPUs (I think they were PIIIs) with hardware IDs which could be accessed remotely. After users expressed major resistance to the proposal due to privacy concerns, Intel ultimately dropped the proposal. When Microsoft started requiring activation of the OS for a specific computer, some users moved to alternative OSs such as Linux.

                            In the absence of a monopoly, we have a choice. I am 100% against piracy but policies such as these violate privacy and effectively limits legitimate uses of the products. If one buys a video tape or CD, should one be limited to playing it on a specific VCR or CD player? If one has a CD player in the house and in the car, does that mean that we are required to buy two copies of the same CD so that we can enjoy the same music in both places? The answer is absolutely not.

                            This latest initiative by Microsoft and Intel will give another boost to Linux and open source software. Users should voice their objections and more importantly, users must VOTE with their wallets.

                              Sun, Transmeta, VIA?? (Score:0)
                              By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.22 13:36 (#30793)
                              We all know that AMD & Intel are supporting TCPA technologies, what of the other chip makers? Have any of them made it public that they will not EVER be producing TCPA compliant chips?
                              First time I agree with Stallman (Score:0)
                              By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.22 16:08 (#30872)
                              I never agree with RMS. Even when I come close to agreeing with him, I think he goes so far from reality that I end up disagreeing with his end point.
                              Unfortunately, I think this time he is perfectly on target.
                              The few recourses that would have been available to users saddled with Palladium are blocked by DMCA.

                                Monopolosoft Con-puting (Score:1)
                                By Glanz (147002) on 2002.10.22 16:12 (#30875)
                                Richard
                                I'm with you on this and have been for quite a while. I saw thin coming for quite a while now and have been writing and posting about it at ExtremeTech, between my Linux articles. You wouldn't believe all the MS apologists and defenders there are out there. The slightest mention of mistrust about Microsoft's [mis]trusted computing initiative and I could expect hundreds of flames. Unfortunately, there are so many brainwashed victims of the Stockholm syndrome using Monopolosoft playtime tellytubbyesque products that allies won't be easy to find in the "mainstream"... Don't forget that it is this same mainstream that has so quietly given up their rights in the name of the "fight against terrorism". They fail even to see that MS is making deals for backdoors in the future in exchange for a certain immunity against monopolistic practices and general immorality in its business dealings. Fortunately, citizens of every country in the world see this. The fearful and victimized American is the only one that doesn't. Soon MS will be introducing MS-specific hardware and will try to make it an industry standard so as to exclude other Operating Systems and protocols accepted by the world. We'll see what happens.

                                In any case, I will be around for the organization and for the fight.

                                Ralph Glanz
                                  Can you trust your computer (Score:0)
                                  By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.22 17:34 (#30907)
                                  I agree with RMS on MS proposed trusted computing, but one can understand why media industries want to protect their revenues from piracy and will back this MS proposal. I think that media artists and software developers need and should get the monetry rewards for their efforts. So maybe RMS and the open scource community could work on a system where every access to an artists media or software work is is debted from the user to the artist at every use.... fractions of cents per usage that would cut out all this bs from MS.?
                                  Right on! (Score:1)
                                  By jm4n (165196) on 2002.10.22 18:24 (#30919)
                                  I have absolutely nothing against Richard Stallman, not at all. I do, however, generally disagree with some of the things he says, as I usually feel he goes a bit over the top.

                                  However, on this article, I agree 100%. He addresses the issues with Palladium et al, explains why these things can be a problem, and makes a lot of sense.

                                  I personally hope this never catches on. I know a lot of flack was taken by Intel with their "processor serial number", and Trusted Computing is much, much worse. Unfortunately, they are putting a FUD spin on it ("Trusted Computing" might sound like a Good Thing to the uninformed).

                                  The sad thing is, Joe Average doesn't understand the implications of this. My dad said he can't wait for Palladium, so he doesn't have to worry about "those damned viruses". I just cringe when I think about that...

                                  Anyway, Richard, thanks for attempting to get this issue out in the open, and for doing so in a professional manner. Again, I have no problem with your other articles; perhaps none have "hit home" like this one, and I only now see where you are coming from.

                                  - Justin Nelson aka Jm4n

                                    Who do you trust? (Score:0)
                                    By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.22 18:48 (#30923)
                                    Just recently I was mulling over the idea of trust in computing and came to the conclusion that it's really just a question of where you stop thinking about it.

                                    If you trust your apps, then your OS must be trust which means that your drivers and such must be trusted which means trusting the people who wrote them, their systems and tools as well as all the hardware and software involved in getting things between them and yourself.

                                    I don't recall who it was attributed to but there was some story I heard about someone who hacked the login program to provide a back door, then hacked the compiler to re-insert that back door if someone ever detected it and removed it and further, hacked the compiler to recognize if it was compiling a compiler which had been "untainted" so in effect, if you had a tainted compiler you couldn't have a secure, compiled-from-source system without at some point trusting some other machine to fix your system that used a completely unrelated compiler.

                                    Now ask yourself what exactly *do* all of the little chips, wires, boards and conduits in your computer do. If you don't know, then you're taking a leap of faith. I'm not saying this is wrong so much as saying that we should be conscious of it and understand that we'll never be 100% justified in trusting anything. Sometimes "so far, so good" is good enough.
                                    Get a Mac (Score:0)
                                    By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.22 19:11 (#30924)
                                    Microsoft wants world domination. And right now they have such a large percentage of the market that they think they can do anything. They are evil. You all know it, but you act like there are no alternatives. Just get a Mac. Don't dismiss this idea immediately because of the ignorant things others have told you. Mac OS X truly is the best OS out there.
                                      Trust me :-) ......... What does that really mean? (Score:0)
                                      By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.22 19:35 (#30928)
                                      Wow! Pretty potent stuff I'm reading here. Isn't there a joke about what someone really means when they say "Trust me" ? Trust is a pretty word, but without it's companion, Respect, it is just that - a pretty word. I cannot place trust in anyone or anything that I have little or no respect for.

                                      When I read such Big Brother type articles, my blood starts boiling. I try to remind myself that for every one who says that you can't do that or you have to do this, another will say "BS" . As I see it, those Powers-that-be that try to force something on us that we don't want will end up cutting their own throats. Human nature being what it is, we can put up with a lot of crap, but step over that invisibly drawn line, and all hell will break loose.

                                      This country was founded by militants and dissidents who opposed the tyrannical English rule. Now I see the same thing happening here in the very country that was based on freedom of individual rights founded by those forefathers. America has become a slumbering giant. But I have faith, and I have hope. When the "feces" hits the fan, I know where I stand and will make a stand. Open war on individual rights is coming, right now I see it in a "cold war" phase, but that invisibly drawn line is close to being crossed.

                                      I'm not a violent person. I live by respect. I respect you and you respect me. That doesn't mean we have to agree on everything. If everyone thought the same, we would cease as individuals and life would be pretty boring. It is our individuality that makes life rich and interesting.

                                      Taking away my freedom of choosing how I want to use my bought-and-paid-for products show a lack of respect for my right to choose. Where's the trust in that? The more they keep pushing their own beliefs on us and how they want us to live our lives by chipping away our freedom as individuals, the closer they are to crossing that line. So let them push, let them chip away at our individuality, and watch what happens.
                                      Talk about your FUD (Score:0)
                                      By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.22 21:27 (#30943)
                                      Try reading what Palladium really is, and what it really does.
                                      http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2002/j ul02/0724palladiumwp.asp
                                      or better
                                      http://www.microsoft.com/technet/treeview/default. asp?url=/technet/security/news/PallFAQ2.asp
                                      I won't waste my time explaining it to you, but this is actually good for everyone.
                                      The CBDTPA (Score:0)
                                      By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.22 22:01 (#30946)
                                      I just realized today that calling the CBDTPA the Consume But Don't Try Programming Act is a very good description of it. If programmers are required to incorporate copy protection into any software they write, how do we satisfy that while teaching people the basics of programming? We have to move entirely to interpreted or bytecode-compiled languages (which might be a good idea if it was our *choice*) so that the interpreter could take care of the copy protection.

                                      And Eric Raymond said that learning to be a hacker (using the term with the positive meaning) with proprietary operating system was like dancing with a body-cast. Try it behind one of these "firewalls" - after all, it's duty is to keep you out of most of the contents of your computer.
                                        This will start a war. (Score:0)
                                        By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.23 1:18 (#30967)
                                        There are people out there that will not lay down for this. They WILL take the system down.

                                        People and government have come to depend to much on computers and the Internet.

                                        When a few bright and radical revolutionaries have been pushed too far they will shut down the planet.

                                        Imagine the chaos of it all. No power. Utilities everywhere gone haywire. No communications. No transportation.

                                        Riots will ensue, people will burn entire cities to the ground. Countries and governments will implode as they lose control over the people. There are not enough soldiers and police to put 375 million pissed off people under control.

                                        They are pushing 1984 on the people and it WILL come back and bite them in the *ss.

                                        Smell the darkness, it smells like smoke. Hear the darkness, it screams. The future is dark for the oppressors..


                                        Free Software exists also for Windows! (Score:0)
                                        By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.23 2:39 (#30972)
                                        There is an excellent site for free software under windows :
                                        http://gnuwin.epfl.ch
                                        [gnuwin.epfl.ch]. There are over 60 applications, a glossary and articles about the free software movement and its philosophy. They also put up ISO images. Burn and enjoy!
                                          The anwer to your worries (Score:0)
                                          By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.23 4:06 (#30977)
                                          Just purchase China's dragon cpu [theinquirer.net], run Linux, and vote for the Green party [greenpartyus.org].
                                            Microsoft Will Lose (Score:0)
                                            By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.23 5:40 (#30980)
                                            Microsoft is trying to capitalize on non computer literate consumers. I think that this whole thing also has something to do with the fact that the United States is having economic and international problems.

                                            In the first place all of the enterprise operating systems are owned by the United States. This is because of the cost of research and development as well as support. But remember that basically all of the major technological systems originated as monopolies (telephone, railway, electicity, telegraph, ...computer).

                                            Look it, they can do whatever they want with it, even if that means shoving it up their asses. Don't feel bad. What we need to do is simplify the technology and concentrate on decentralizing the power of corporations in the computer industry by providing instructions to developers about how to build our own systems.

                                            Look it, these systems are implemented in the C programming language. It appears taht C/C++ is a systems implementation langauge, however in order to properly build systems, the designers much have either of these requirements: they must know the details of the implementation of the operating system, they must control the interfaces, or they must build on an open standard (for example the hardware architecture that used to be vendor neutral). Up until this time only vendors could apply C/C++ sucessfully. They created middleware frameworks (class heirarchies that promoted reusable design in the form of an intermediate langauge). Through middleware support corporations create domain centric solutions, not systems.

                                            Here is the problem. Mr. Stallman should promote open source development, not just Linux. He should also talk about system development, portability, and communication standards. A lot of work needs to be done in laying out plans for software architecture development, system development. Someone has to begin to break it down so that the average Joe can build his own operating system. That system only needs to support basic functions and the individuals needs, but we must have templates. We must diversify on many hardware architectures, we have to become invinsible.


                                              Know what's worse? (Score:0)
                                              By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.23 8:27 (#30995)
                                              Microsoft can STEAL your IDEAS off of YOUR OWN computer and claim them as THEIR ideas. And you can NEVER prove that they were YOURS.
                                                what a bunch of crap (Score:1)
                                                By msusanka (5754) on 2002.10.23 8:59 (#31002)
                                                ( http://jms.dnsalias.org )
                                                I still have vhs in my house and will not buy one dvd until the dmca is ammended or revoked.
                                                Now it looks like I won't be buying any new computers either. This is only way we can let the
                                                big companies know what we think is hurt their bottom line!!
                                                I received a new license agreement from my isp the other day and I had to email them to get in writing that they would not kick me out because I was using Linux. The agreement had language in it that gave them the right to do that but I wanted to get in writing that I won't or I would drop them - they emailed me back saying they won't - what a bunch of crap!!!
                                                Now Microsoft can't beat Linux so now what do they do - go try to get it outlawed all in the name of they are trying to bolster the economy.
                                                What a bunch of crap!!! Do our senators and congressman think they can get by with this crap?
                                                I am watching and I am voting for people who don't support this crap or at least they say the don't till the campaign is over.
                                                Thank goodness for folks like Richard - the US is an embarrassment and I am thinking of moving out of the country - you know one that is here for the people and not big money corporations. Some coutry that is founded on principles that I thought the US was founded on.


                                                Only human... (Score:0)
                                                By Anonymous Reader on 2002.10.23 10:14 (#31016)
                                                That's how humans are: uninformed, without any other interests but sex, alcohol and crime and without any special knowledge they successively destroy the planet. Don't wonder if such a nasty creature buys Micro$oft products because for them, a computer is something with 'Intel' and, of course, Microsoft. You'll never ever change that, no matter how many times and how many people try to sign this or that petition. Leave them alone. Use something better, but don't complain. History shows us: mankind never learned anything at any time. So they are, and so they'll be 'till they finally disappear from this universe.
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