Trusted Computing Platform Alliance

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Here's some breaking news that is extremely relevant to the topic of
digital rights management, which we'll be discussing next week.

Safety for Surfers

PC heavyweights form alliance to build
open-source security model for Web products.

by Alexandra Krasne, PC World
October 11, 1999, 6:00 a.m. PT

Building on the notion that the ultimate Internet security
product is part software, part hardware, and a whole lot
of trust, five leading hardware and software companies
are forming an open-source alliance on Monday to
promote safer surfing and shopping.

The group, known as the Trusted Computing Platform
Alliance, plans to write framework specifications that
will guide hardware and software developers toward
building products that will provide security when you're
online. Participants include Compaq, Hewlett-Packard,
IBM, Intel, and Microsoft.

The alliance partners share the goal of making the Web
safer for surfers, using open-source hardware and
software. But each brings a different industry
background and different expectations to the table.

"The first problem we've got today is an unknown of
what's in the client," says Phil Hester, chief technology
officer of IBM's personal systems group. "If you try to
do security, you don't know the standard feature in a
PC. E-business is a huge opportunity and if there's no
basic set of standards, that marketplace will not
develop. So we're taking a proactive role and define a
set of standards."

The alliance members hope to release the specification
that may spark that standard, by mid-2000.

Because this is an open-source effort, anyone can help
TCPA create its standard through online discussions
(see link to the right). But to participate, you'll have to
sign a non-disclosure agreement, according to Peter
Biddle, technical evangelist for Windows hardware at

"We're trying to build a utopian society through a
computing platform," Biddle says. "We're announcing
this now to give people a chance to give input in

The key to creating the standard is to ensure a
consistent set of base capabilities that developers can
take advantage of, says Lee Hirsch, director of security
and privacy marketing at Intel.

One reason the "big five" hardware and software
manufacturers are forming the TCPA is that Internet
security software alone has seen amazing growth from
1997 to 1998, as noted in an August survey by
International Data Corporation. Use of firewalls grew 80
percent, encryption software use rose 31 percent, use
of antivirus software grew 28 percent, and security
authentication, authorization, and administration use
rose 46 percent.

"Because of the increase in the number of people who
make purchases over the Web, the growth of the
average transaction size, and the adoption of the Web
as a viable vehicle for business procurement, Internet
commerce will grow substantially," says Carol
Glasheen, director of primary research and market
models at IDC.

But rather than working separately to create yet
another product in a rapidly growing, but saturated
market, the five companies allied to take matters in a
different direction.

"Maybe we've got an ego, but the five companies are a
starting point, not an end," says IBM's Hester.

-- Hal Abelson, October 11, 1999