Laser Blog

Articles tagged "digital rights"

14 Microsoft Vista's new EULA

Tuesday 31st October, 2006

The Register has an interesting analysis of the Microsoft Vista End-User License Agreement.

Among the gems in this agreement, which virtually everyone agrees to without reading it, are:

  • If you use Vista, you may run performance benchmarks on the operating system, but you may not disclose the results of the benchmarks without permission. Censorship - that's one way to prevent bad news getting out!
  • You may not run the software on a virtual system (such as the Windows XP honeypot PC I mentioned in an earlier post) unless you have purchased the more expensive Business, Enterprise, or Ultimate "editions". The differences between the "editions" is going to be interesting. Aside from the cost that is. One wonders what has been disabled, and how soon "fixes" to enable the disabled funtionality appears.
  • You may not use the license on more than two PCs. So, build one PC, install Vista. Build another, transfer Vista to the new PC. And that's your lot. If you want to legitimately transfer the license to a third PC, you can't; you must shell out for another full license. I imagine that corporate customers will have a special dispensation to get around this one, but Joe Public can forget it.

It won't affect me. :)

There's a lively comments section about this very subject on


8 Who's in charge of your PC?

Thursday 19th October, 2006

Thanks to Edward Snowden, it is starting to become apparent that almost all governments have a blatant disregard for their citizens' privacy.
Rob. March 2015.

Do you know what's running on your system? The Swiss government are mulling over plans to surreptitiously install trojans onto people's PCs so that they can monitor VOIP transmissions. A trojan is a hidden program running on your computer without your knowledge.

The application, essentially a piece of Trojan code, is also able to turn on the microphone on the target PC and monitor not just VoIP conversations, but also any other ambient audio.
The company claims that the software is able to skirt round any firewalls and evade detection by any antivirus applications already installed on the target machine.

Those claims in the second quote are a bit broad, and certainly not sustainable for the future. The worrying thing is, if the Swiss government is proposing it, what other governments are thinking about it?

The thing about proprietary software is that if a government decides it wants a way in, it's hard for a company, even one like Microsoft, to refuse. Think of the benefits they could gain if a government, wishing to monitor its citizens, decided to actively promote (or decree) the use of software from a single, controllable entity.

With Open Source software, all those little backdoors become visible. Even if you're not a programmer, they become visible to thousands of others who are, and who are conscientious, and who will talk. You still have a choice, for now.