Cory Doctorow: The War on General Purpose Computing
Efforts to fight piracy and limit computer functionality converge on malware/spyware being pre-installed on every machine that ships. As an example, Intel has teamed up with video streaming services in the design of their new Sandy Bridge chips, which will supposedly allow for only DRM content to be streamed in HD. (Not that you have to utilize DRM-ladden content; you can find and play things in HD on your own still, but it’s the beginning of a larger trend — i.e. cars that can be remotely shut down, iPhones whose cameras turn off at the request of the authorities, etc.)
This trend is most disturbing in particular in regimes where the populace is not media-literate enough to get around these restrictions, unlike in wealthy, western countries where we can assume, as always, someone will find a way to hack into it (or out of it). [Maybe these people: ccc.de?]
Doctorow refers to all of our iThings and other increasingly restricted forms of hardware as Appliances, but what they are, he goes on to elucidate, are general purpose computers that ship with malware inside. With SOPA and all this copyright mess what we are seeing is just the first battle of the war on general purpose computing.