Trusted Computing Platform – Not for the consumer

Trusted Computing Platform is an initiative that is going to help the media companies (music, movies, etc.) securing the media they sell in a strong way. Essentially, it’s intent is to keep everything encrypted to avoid users to have a direct access to it. This approach promises to stomp out pirates.

The problem is that, as a mere user, you will also be prohibited from doing a number of things that you consider quite normal today. As a matter of fact, today, when some content is protected, there is always a way to access it (for example, if you plug the output of your DVD player into a computer video acquisition card you are able to make a copy of the DVD you play). Trusted Computing Platform mandates that the equipment, the software and the media have all to play together or refuse to play. If your DVD player does not see a TCP-compliant video acquisition card it will not accept to send data.

So, if you want to make a personal backup copy of your DVD you will not be allowed to do it. If your music file is downloaded on your TCP-telephone, you will not be able to put it on your MP3 player. The fact that you paid it up front will only mean that you agreed not to be able to use it in more ways than what the seller accepted beforehand.

The big (or not always so big) media companies want to create a corporate playground where you will be allowed to enter on their own rules. The market will have to decide whether or not this is a success. But if it works like they want it you will forget about what made the growth of the PC market: flexibility and availability of zillions of easy-to-develop new extensions. We may move from a cheap PC market to an expensive video-game/TV-decoder kind of market.