From Wikipedia on Trusted computing:
It furthed describes how your computer may act as a hub (essentially a server) for use by others:
And Skype of course reassures us that:
Whew. That’s a relief.
Oddly, the Skype End User License Agreement (EULA) is far less clear on the point:
Here they tell us we are granting them permission to use our resources just for the purposes of facilitating the communication between me and other users. Now wait a minute. What’s up with this discrepency? Letting Skype use my computer to facilitatie my own communications is one thing. But it is an entirely different matter to grant permission for Skype to use my private property to facilitatie the communications of strangers, communications to which I am not a party.
Forgetting this discrepency (which itself seems somewhat dubious), the fact is with Skype as it is today, your computer can become a hub (Supernode) and carry the conversations of others, without your explicit knowledge or active consent. The parallels to Palladium are many. In both cases, a big brother in the sky tells us whose computer we can trust, as well as when and how we should trust it. And all the protocols and algorithms are secret, not exposed to peer review or the kind of extensive public scrutiny required to affirm the security of the design.
In the EFF report Trusted Computing: Promise and Risk the authors clearly suggest to the U.S. government that they should force Microsoft to:
- make publicly available the interface specifications to major functional components of its code,
- to significantly better support interoperable components to allow others to compete with more secure technology,
- to define and set specifications through industry standards bodies and consortia.
It seems to me like all three of the above would apply equally to Skype.
I quote an associate:
If you are willing to pay this price of letting bad guys use your machine, then that’s up to you. No one can stop you. But users should be aware of these costs and offer or withhold their consent accordingly.
This is a personal decision. Contrast this with paying taxes that build roads that the bad guys use to flee their bankrobbery. I don’t have a personal choice in paying taxes, nor of whether they are spent on building roads that lead to banks.
But I do have a choice with how my computer is used. It’s my personal, private property.
I wonder how many Skype users even know their computers and internet bandwidth can be used to carry traffiic for others. This includes SkpeOut calls that Skype is making money on. Shouldn’t we be gettting a piece of that action?
Nobody would let Microsoft get away with this.