Companion by Fred von Lohmann [6:37 pm]
Trusted computing, however, does more than allow you to trust your own computer; it also aims to enable *others* to trust your computer. The key to this capability is in a feature called “remote attestation.” This allows another person to ask the software running on the trusted side of your computer to identify itself. Because the answer comes from the tamper- resistant hardware on the motherboard of your computer, the “attestation” is relatively reliable. This feature certainly has some desirable uses (for employees logging into corporate networks from offsite locations, for example).
But there is a dark side. If others are able to verify that particular software is running on the trusted side of your computer, then some may refuse to communicate with you at all *unless* you are running their software. In other words, companies may begin demanding that you install and run the software *of their choice* on the trusted side of your computer. This would effectively give them control over a portion of your computer. You would be free to refuse, but then you would not be able to do business with them.
In a competitive market, this might not be a problem, as vendors would avoid anything that might alienate customers. In a market where competition is compromised, however, trusted computing can dramatically increase the power of a monopolist or cartel to impose “take it or leave it” terms on the public, by giving them the capability to insist on a relatively unassailable beachhead inside your computer.