Bracing itself for another potential fight with computer privacy advocates, Intel Corp. said yesterday that its next generation of microchips, due next year, would include anti-piracy features that will protect computers against hackers and viruses while giving digital publishers powerful new tools to control the use of their products.
The technology, code-named LaGrande, was designed to protect computers from viruses and bad-natured hackers. But the feature will also give Hollywood, the recording industry, and software makers much stronger controls over the way consumers use their digital music, films, and computer programs.
Publishers, for example, may prevent PCs that run LaGrande and Microsoft Corp.'s software-based Palladium security technology from copying CDs, forwarding certain documents, or running unlicensed software.
Paul Otellini, Intel's president, said the chip maker would include no copyright protections in LaGrande, but he acknowledged that digital publishers could use the technology with software programs such as Palladium to create their own.
Intel intends to include the technology in the Prescott chip design, which will succeed the Pentium 4 as the Santa Clara, Calif., company's flagship PC chip in the second half of 2003.
Until then, consumer advocacy groups say they will lobby to ensure that publishers don't use these so-called secure computing initiatives to spy on PC users.
''These systems are likely to police copyright by watching who consumes what,'' said Chris Hoofnagle, legislative counsel with the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center. ''There are grave consequences for privacy with these systems,'' he added.
Intel's LaGrande effort is part of the Trusted Computing Platform Alliance, a coalition of high-tech giants including Intel, IBM Corp., Microsoft, and Hewlett-Packard Co.
While Intel is approaching secure computing at the level of the silicon chips and their accompanying components, Microsoft's Palladium initiative is software-based. Microsoft plans to include Palladium in future versions of the Windows operating system.
These guys just don't give up. What about what we want? Oh sorry we should only pony up the moola and be quiet.