Sunday, January 19, 2014

To "own" my own PC - or do we need a computing "Bill of Rights"?

Listen Up computer manufacturers! I want to own my laptop. I want
  • freedom from scrutiny
  • freedom from aggressive advertising
  • freedom from downloading undesired components
  • built-in anonymity when going online
I have no doubt a computer manufacturer, somewhere, is busy spec'ing out a secure PC/Laptop/Tablet/Cellphone device with elementary hard drive and comm encryption.  The basic flaw in that idea is that it makes it harder for me to access the data myself, share it and recover it. The trick might be to employ some kind of compartmentalization of computer content - just unplug most of your computer from the internet. This is the opposite of the"cloud". I don't know what you could do about communications.

Obviously you need some protection from government civil rights violations. But that is the least of my worries. I just hate it when I fire up my browser and Snap.Do, Yahoo, or some other not-so-well-intentioned vendor takes over my default home page, new tabs, task bars, etc. [How about every part of my computer that I use being off the internet? Then the whole problem is: how to design a computer to pull information from the internet safely?] 
I also hate do a single Google search for a "Mediterranean Cruise" and then being pestered about cruises everywhere I go on the internet. 

I am afraid that good solutions requires genuine re-architecting of the computing devices. For example the operating system should not be vulnerable, nor any of the basic installed components. They need to be in a part of the computer that cannot be modified except by built-in hardware data transfers. Or maybe an OS upgrade will require a physical part mailed by the vendor. Internet installs can go to a programmable part of the PC but it should always remain quarantined from the OS etc.

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