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Pentium IIIs Banned in Arizona?

CmdrTaco posted more than 15 years ago | from the you-will-NOT-do-this dept.

Intel 134

Ryan Radecki writes " reports that Arizona lawmakers are planning to introduce a bill that would ban the Pentium III due to its usage of a serial number for PC tracking and identification. The bill would ban chips with serial numbers, computers with chips with serial numbers, prohibit state and government agencies from buying computers with said chips inside, and prohibit the manufacture of said chips in the state, which would be an intriguing situation for the two Intel fabrication plants located in Arizona. "

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One of the dumbest ideas I've ever seen. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031442)

"The bill would ban chips using a serial number identification scheme, as well as computers containing chips with serial numbers."

Welcome to the state of Arizona, where it's illegal to own an Ethernet card.


Only in America....... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031443)

I always knew that USA politicians were nutcases.

Overboard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031444)

Microsoft makes people reboot their computers all the time for stuff, all they need to do is incorporate the code into an IE "update"

That's crazy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031445)

I agree, this is a violation of Intel's rights. I don't necessarily agree with the PSN, but this legislature is completely against the ideals of free enterprise.

No Subject Given (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031446)

fscking morons. I'm this close to recouncing my citizenship in the US and moving to, say, New Zealand. Don't get me wrong, I love my country and everything it (used to) stands for, but it's being run by a bunch of goddamn morons.

Have you kicked a politician today?

You guys are missing the point... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031447)

The scary thing about all this serial number stuff
isn't that all of a sudden our computers are
identifiable over the network. The scary thing is
that these serial numbers are going to be registered and broadcast in IP packets. This is different than the examples cited above. I mean, how many people are there browsing the web from the console of a server? Enough to make it economically rewarding to track them? Of course not. And if I'm not mistaken, NIC addresses on ethernet cards aren't really broadcast netwide. They're more for identification for local network protocols such as bootp and dhcp and stuff. Currently, if a website identifies you, it's by either a cookie or by your IP number, both of which you have a bit of control over. In this case, Intel is branding about 85-90% of future personal workstations with a serial number that really you can't be sure you can control the access to at this point, for the sole purpose of identifying you over the Internet, not just to your local network or the manufacturer/service provider of your machine. And of course websites, seeing the mass adoptation of the standard, are going to take advantage of it. And of course, someone conceivably at this point could find a way of turning it on without the average user being aware of it. I agree the law is dumb because it is unresearched and ill-informed, but the spirit of it I definitely agree with.

Some of you are fuckin' DUMB. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031448)

What about the MIPS chips, which have ID's in
their CPU's?? Looks like we're not the only
"fuckin' DUMB" people here.


Yes, my legislature is composed of idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031449)

It's pretty sad. This news doesn't shock me at all. You see, I'm an AZ native. I've lived here my whole life. We've had Evan Mecham the crook, 22 state officers arrested for accepting bribes in the AZ-SCAM investigation, Fife Symington, our former Governor, in prison for stealing old people's money, and Senator John McCain marching forward in an effort to ban what he calls 'internet smut' a.k.a CDA-II, stomping all over the first amendment in the process.

Hazzah. :-\

And yes, this could hurt Intel in a very big way, seeing as how the they have a multi-billion dollar fab down in Chandler, AZ. Unfortunately the stupid fuck doesn't see how it will hurt AZ business. With Sumotomo, Motorola, Allied Signal, and Intel all in AZ in large numbers (read: multi-billion dollar investments), this place has been nick-named the Silicon Desert. Hopefully this stupid fuck won't scare Intel and friends to move someplace with friendlier law makers.

Glad to see, glad to see (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031450)

Protecting privacy is one thing, but banning the chips is as bad as forcing everyone to buy the chips. It's the government deciding that they know what's best for me in both situations.

A bill banning the _use_ of the serial number might be more appropriate.

Only in America....... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031451)

Only Arizona. They seem to have a higher than normal number of nuts.

But do they transmit ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031452)

Considering that this has been a feature of most non-x86 CPUs for at least 20 years, I'm not sure that it is much of a problem. How do you think they do per CPU locks on unix software?

But do they transmit their serial # across the internet? This is the biggest issue.

This guy is trying to make a name for himself. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031453)

Rep. May is a first-year state legislator who obviously is trying to get his name known. He represents a district (Central Scottsdale, North Tempe, and NE Phoenix) where there are NO Intel plants.

He probably figures "Why should I spend years making an ass out of myself when I can do it in my first 3 weeks in office?"

Besides, Intel's lobbyist will pay him a visit next week and draft its own legislation (a standard practice here in Arizona).

Give AZ some credit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031454)

These are the same holier than thou ppl that banned all oral sex in Arizona in the 80s...I lived there 24 years and finally escaped to California. That was the law that made me into a libertarian.

A /. girl

Legislative process (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031455)

This bill is nothing to phear.

It is simply a bill that is going to be introduced by a lone gunman. In order to pass and be enforced, it would have to be cleared by the state house, then the state senate, be signed by the governor, and then survive state and/or federal court actions by Intel. As soon as Intel lobbyists hit the halls of the Capitol, the show will be over.

It will not happen.

I will add that I am pretty disgusted by the ignorance of the press and the rest of you (except some) who forget that software runs the show, not the Evil Intel CPU.

I also have mild surprise that Intel didn't anticipate this and do a better propaganda job. But hey, 'tis hard for an engineer to second guess the 50% of the population with below average Intel-ligence.

An Open Letter To Mr. May (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031456)

I'd like to ask Mr. May a question.

Mr. May,

Let me get this straight... Youre going to introduce legislation *banning* Pentium III's from the state of Arizona..Are you on drugs, or are you
simply retarded? I guess we should do away with license plates too! After all, (gasp!) they can be used by people to track where you go in your car! Infact, while we're at it, we should do away with the entire numbering system, and revert to relativistic measurement, like "alot", or "more", "a little bit", and "less". Then we could fix that pesky budget of ours.

With legislature like this running the state, no wonder the high-tech sector stays the hell away from AZ. In any event, i'd appreciate a reply to my question. Discovering that you might be A) On drugs, or B) mentally retarded may affect my vote in upcoming elections. You can reach me at my
office below.

Eagerly awaiting your reply,
Bowie J. Poag

Bowie J. Poag
UNIX Systems Manager, Computer Graphics Facility
Department of Chemistry, University of Arizona
Old Chemistry 329B Office: (520) 621-2691

what will happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031457)

This law won't pass but I'm sure Intel would've if people (not unlike Steve May) didn't speak up against the privacy problem. This isn't about ethernet cards and you know it.

Ethernet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031458)

Depends on the card. My ancient 3c509's don't let you. SOme newer ones do. It's really just asking for problems if you change them, though.

Y'all are missing the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031459)

It's not the gummint's job to protect you from your own stupidity. Noone's forcing anyone to buy a Pentium III. This is unnecessary legislation. Every time we let the government tell us another thing we can't do, we all lose a little freedom.

I think you are mistaken (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031460)

IP packets don't work that way. In the case of most operating systems the network layer of the OS itself would have to be rewritten to send the serial number of the CPU as part of regular network communications. That is not going to happen.

IP packets don't "work that way," no, but they are wonderfully impartial about what data they transfer. You won't have to re-write the socket layer. You re-write the application layer. Add a non-standard "CPU-ID:" header to HTTP. It's not that hard; it's damn near trivial.

Of course, that makes it terribly easy to spot, but I'm not worried about the stealth-transmission scenario. I'm worried about the web sites that say "Turn on your cpu-id to get access to our coolest new feature" once PIII's become popular. Wouldn't Intel pay for such a promotion? They'd pay my company, no question: other similar companies have done the same in the past.

Witness the way that Javascript is necessary for many sites to be usable. All Netscape had to do was write the browser and add features that web sites wanted to use, and eventually sites don't bother to code for people without JS. A per-CPU ID number is incredibly valuable to membership-based web sites. Want to permanently ban an abusive chatter? Want to have a backup profiling/path-tracking scheme if they disable cookies? You bet you do.

Welcome to the wonderful world of choosing between giving away your privacy by enabling the CPU-ID, or becoming a second-class netizen barred from many commercial web sites.



Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031461)

That's just the problem. I don't _want_ to move. I like the idea of what America claims to stand for. I like what it _stood_ for years ago. I'm just hoping that someday, everything will get back to sanity, and our government will begin to work for _us_ and not itself.

Three words! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031462)

Buy AMD stock! :)

One of the dumbest ideas I've ever seen. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031463)

Indeed, this move is every bit as dumb as the idea about using CPU IDs to authenticate e-commerce. We do need parts with machine-readable serial numbers; we *don't* need to let anybody else see the numbers.

One of the greatest ideas I've ever seen. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031464)

This is - put simply - the best thing I've seen law makers do in my lifetime - ever. Intel's serial # system demands boycott, and ought to be illegal. It's high time the government started fighting 1984-like developments, not making them.

Ethernets have nothing to do with tracking technology. Intel's plan is a direct attempt at violating the basic civil liberties of everyone. The goals of tracking with serial numbers are simple: control, control control. Intel's single motive is to violate people's privacy, and I refuse to accept that they aren't aware - and don't think - that they are attempting an invasion. Their plot is evil - pure and simple.

Kudos Arizona. There's hope in this illfated country of ours.

Corporate rights?? Err... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031465)

Intel cannot make any chip it wants to make. I'm sure the exploding chip or the heroin chip would be outlawed.

Dynamite is legal, why couldn't intel manufacture an explosive chip?

The real issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031466)

I'm surprised that you guys haven't seen the real issue. Intel's proposed SN scheme was a proprietary proposal. Non-Intel chips would not have this needed serial number. If you bought a $300 PC with the X86 clone chip, you might find yourself locked out of Disney Blast.

Intel once had 100% of the X86 market. Now that's down to only 75%. At one time, Intel was selling the Pentium II chip for $500. Can't do that with a $300 box. Clones of the Pentium chips have been out for a long time, but no one bothered putting them in PCs until the price of PCs started dropping below $1000. At that point, the price of the Intel chip became a substantial part of the price of the PC.

After all, is tracking the serial number of the hardware really a great way for tracking consumers? What if someone orders something from work and at home? They'd have two serial numbers. What happens if the person upgrades? You'd loose track of the customer.

Besides, there are millions users of non Intel computers out there. If this scheme did catch on, do you think these people would simply throw out their computers? Nope, someone will simply write a piece of code to create a virtual serial number. If you can create a virtual serial number, then you can change it anytime you want. In fact, people with Intel PCs who want their privacy will also use virtual serial numbers that they can change at will.

Nope. The whole purpose is simply to give people a reason to pay extra for a box that says "Intel Inside". It's almost an admission from Intel that there really isn't any reason to pay that Intel premium anymore.

As for this Arizona legislator. He's simply pandering to the voters of his district. Come election day, he can use this bill to demonstrate that he's pro-privacy.

A bill like this dies quietly in committee. The whole point was to get a lot of publicity. Heck, how much do you want to bet this guy will take full credit that Intel backed down? In November 2000, he'll run ads claiming how he stood up to Intel like David did to Goliath. While his opponent took campaign money from Intel.

No matter what you say about politicians, sooner or later they do listen to voters. When a politician acts really stupid, it's probably because he's pandering to some voting group. Remember, in a democracy, you always get the government you deserve. A scary thought, really.


Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031467)

That post doesn't even deserve a response. Garnted, I'm responding now, but only to say that the person's opinion is foolish.

The law was *created* in the 80s! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031468)

There is still ban! It was *created* in the 80s by the damn AZ legislature. An no, I didn't leave because of the stupid laws, but because of the goddam 120 degree heat. And also the fact that the only thing worse than a town full of hicks is a metropolitan area of 2 million hicks (that's Phoenix).

Stupid laws (I can't give my husband a blow job in AZ) cause people to disregard the important ones (like not killing someone).

/. girl

Honestly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031469)

What a poser legislature. Willing to make an ass
of themselves banning something that will die it's
own death of natural causes (Intel's serialized
chips would be doomed to failure; any software
or consumer with a positive IQ would ignore this
extra "feature")

But at the same time their police can break-and-
enter and forfeit civilian property. Don't
see these legislators doing anything about that...


Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031470)

Then stop bitching and whining about it with idle threats of renouncing your citizenchip. Of all the things you could do to make a difference, that would be the least effective.

Of course, if you're not in Arizona you can't say squat. Well, you can but it won't make any difference. We'll do whatever the hell we please here in Arizona, and if it pisses you off, we'll be that much more determined to do it.

There's nothing I can't stand more than a fair-weather patriot. Millions of people are trying to get to the US and obtain citizenship from abroad and you're willing to throw it all away (or the thought has crossed your mind) because some ignorant representative introduced what he thought was a good privacy bill. Better to point out the flaws in his bill then to jump ship altogether.


Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031471)

the government-- federal, state, or local--
should keep their hands off tech. the idea of tech
legislator is almost as smart as software patents.
in otherwords, leave it alone, stupid.

anything that moves as slow as the gov't should
stay clear of fast moving industries.

if this gets passed, the ramifications would be
horrendous. smart cards, "big iron", and untold number of other chips would become contraband. and for what reason? some guy that doesn't know his bits from bytes thinks its wrong for pentium 3s to have ids.

why should I be scared?!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031472)

Do you think I'd actually run MS crap? We have way too many doze newbz at /.anymore...

- RF (

What a bunch of morons! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031473)

For those of you that isolate yourselves within the Intel realm (including the legislators) and those who just want anything so that you can scream "conspiracy"... Most other platforms have some sort of hostID that is unique to that computer. Sun, HP, SGI, etc. all have some sort of unique number for that computer. It's no big deal. It's actually a good thing!


Stupid implementation...great message! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031474)

Arizona is sending Intel one HELL of a message:
Privacy is king!!!

Too bad the message is suffering from a case of bad delivery. :(


Overboard? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031492)

Might this be a little overboard? I think they should require a company statement that the SN will NEVER be sent without the customer's permission. This is suffient for me (and something Intel has not promissed.)

In related things, anyone think about this senario: A nasty company produces a program that encorporates Intel's unlock-the-serial-number code, at which point the program begins checking serial numbers across the internet and uses these for tracking purposes. I can see MS doing this. Be scared.

The root of all this.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031493)

The root of this stupidity is the media. Yesterday,
I heard a report on CNN about the PIII, it said
"The new Intel PIII chip has a serial number that
it sends across the internet."

I bet if the mass media actually KNEW what it was
talking about, stupid people in government office
wouldn't try to pass laws such as this one. m/f's? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031494)

I suppose this means that they'll be getting rid of *all* of their mainframes, since they *all* have serial numbers, and have had forever?

mark, who, among many other things, used to
ask for the number to give a key for
the software....

/. flamers & legislative process: Hurray for AZ! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031495)

Yeah, sure, so the bill would seem to prohibit ethernet cards with hard-wired MAC addresses and computers with EPROM hostids, etc in its current form, as reported by the media
  1. Have any of you actually RTFB (bill)?
  2. Bills are frequently modified before being passed; if this one needs changes, it can be changed.
  3. Just because we've quietly accepted hostid numbers and permanent MAC addresses doesn't mean that's right.** Why shouldn't you be able to reprogram your MAC number? (perhaps leaving the manufacturer/model info intact)? Why souldn't licenses be based on DNS-resolvable hostnames and number of CPU's instead of which EPROM is in the motherboard?
  4. The intent of the bill -- to protect individual privacy -- is a good thing.

No, the bill's not perfect, but it can, and probably will, be improved. I like the idea of anonymous hardware. I'd prefer that my hardware did not have machine-readable id numbers. Are folks here actually advocating the use of machine-readable id numbers???

** Why have we accepted this? I'd guess because for the most part hostids and MAC addresses predate the Web and the the explosion of consumer PC use. hostids and MAC's don't generally bother corporate types who like control and move slowly, etc. This sort of id info is inappropriate for single end-user computers. If the Arizona bill not only stops the P3 big brother fiasco but leads other hardware vendors to produce more anonymous hardware, I say that's great.

Y'all are missing the point (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2031496)

It's not that Ethernet cards and mainframes and SGI machines already have serial numbers in them. The point is the fact that soon an overwhelming majority of home PCs will have the ID number. How many of these novice or part-time users will even know about the serial number, much less understand the ramifications?

If most of the naive users don't know or care about being tracked, it will be almost impossible for those who do understand to keep anonymous. You will have to enable the serial number simply to run software, shop on the 'net, or maybe even check email. I don't know about you, but rebooting for every other task to enable and disable this number seems like a serious pain.

Look at the Social Security Number. There are lots of places that ask you for it. In a lot of cases, you are not required to give it, but the provider of the service is also not required to provide you service (e.g. a credit card). So, even though there are ways to keep the number from being broadcast, it may severely limit your ability to *do* anything (computer-wise).

Sending a message (2)

davie (191) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031497)

This bill is probably nothing more than a message to Intel. The law would never survive a challenge in the courts and everybody knows it--they also know that lobbying against passage would be expensive, that the cost in terms of PR would be big, and that in the unlikely event that it became law, it would cost a lot of money to challenge it in the courts.

My problem with this whole mess is: I haven't been able to find any details on the actual implementation. Would the actual ID be traded, or would it be used to generate a signature? Trading a trusted, indelible ID would only create a huge security hole. Once a cracker has your chip ID, he can spoof your identity and there's nothing you can do about it--you're screwed. A signature can be revoked, but not an ID. Am I wrong?

Would have been a good analogy, except... (1)

Wakko Warner (324) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031498)

...for the fact that you can change the MAC address of an ethernet card rather easily.

- A.P.

"One World, One Web, One Program" - Microsoft Promotional Ad

Some of you are fuckin' DUMB. (1)

Wakko Warner (324) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031499)

You can change the host ID of a sparc or an SGI easily. You can change an ethernet card's MAC address (which is especially easy to do on a Sparc - hell, it's in the NVRAM FAQ.) You cannot, however, change the serial number on the PIII. Each one is unique and permanent. All the comparisons I'm seeing between the PIII and other pieces of computer equipment have so far been invalid.

- A.P.

"One World, One Web, One Program" - Microsoft Promotional Ad


Chris Johnson (580) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031500)

Damn! I'd have thought _some_ slashdotters would clue to this! Nobody really _cares_ what Joe Schmoe does on the net. The issue here is:
-chip can send out a serial number asserting 'I am a PIII chip!'
...and of course this leads by the expenditures of payola-type money to...
-web sites begin REQUIRING, not suggesting, not demanding but REQUIRING Intel. Not just Intel, none of those damned Celerons- PIIIs!
I am sorry but THAT is what this is about- and I see no reason to humor it. Look, if even 25% of web sites were using such an arrangement, the _first_ thing that would come to people's minds would be Intel monopolising, trying to kill off AMD not to mention Motorola and anybody else by pure market manipulation tactics. Why, why is it that when it actually starts _happening_, people flip out, totally miss the real message and start thinking Intel cares about their visiting
Sheesh. I almost want Arizona to _pass_ this one simply because in their stupidity they are addressing the real threat of this scenario that NOBODY else seems to be cluing into. Just why do you think Windows PCs are so frickin' popular, because people chose them on the merits? No, it's because people had stuff they wanted to do that was _barred_ to anything other than a Windows PC. Now Intel is trying to set up an authentication racket. Whether or not the thing's active by default is moot- if you want to surf X or download from Y you _will_ turn it on (or throw out your celeron, go buy a real PIII and _then_ turn it on)
The motive for Intel in this should be _damn_ obvious.

What about Sun computers (1)

smcd (634) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031501)

Intel PCs running Windows are typically single use machines so CPU ID maps to a user. Sun workstations are frequently multi-user and users frequently use more than one machine so mapping the CPU or hostid to a user would be silly.

Ever hear of big iron? (1)

mholve (1101) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031503)

What, they've never had SGI, Sun or DEC equipment in AZ before? Hmmm. They all had IDs in hardware/firmware.

This is all silly... (2)

John Meacham (1112) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031504)

The chip doesnt send anything out on the internet on its own.. no one is going to be able to track you for having a serial number on your chip... the only way to get at it is if a program running on your system gets it and sends it out... if big brother already has daemons running in the background on your computer then its too late anyway and a CPUID wont make a difference... also many devices have unique serial numbers such as hard disks. it is really useless to track a person or as identification because the plaintext is always availible to any program... software programs must do something with it and sofware isnt any less hackable because it calls this cpuserial opcode... its just a PR stunt by intel gone bad... they knew that it was useless for encryption and ID (its hard not to if you know anything about encryption) and that the functionality was already there... they just wanted to sell a few more chips.. (e-commerce is a buzzword) ha.. somebody got very fired over this. ah well... lates

Glad to see, glad to see (1)

Masem (1171) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031505)

Just wish this was a state with a little bit
more weight in terms of computer consumer buying
power (like CA, TX, any New England state, etc...)
Although I truely doubt that Intel will just ignore AZ's ban, and sell to the other 49 states

At least I'm glad to see both people at the national and state levels standing up for
personal privacy and the net.

MAC addresses (1)

robin (1321) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031506)

Can you buy Ethernet cards in Arizona?


Bad, but still good? (1)

jafac (1449) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031507)

. . . "Far too often a state will bend over
backwards to please corporations". . .
Try - bend over forwards.
Actually, AZ just hit up Motorola for a huge bill to clean up toxic waste.
I think the semiconductor industry isn't feeling too welcome in that state any longer.

Solution: Consumer pressure, not Govt regulation (1)

jafac (1449) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031508)

"Believe me, when Intel figures out that the reason their latest and greatest isn't
selling is because consumers don't like this 'feature' they'll take it out"

No, millions of uninformed consumers will continue to buy their inferior chips, just as they have in the past, and when enough do, requirement of the PSN will become a standard, and those who do not advertise their PSN will be "shut out" of vital internet services like ecommerce, etc.

The genie is out, and intel is only making the bullets. The firing squad is the online business community, and the sheep just keep on marching to their slaughter, and taking us all along for the ride.

All of these are SOFTWARE issues (1)

Fastolfe (1470) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031509)

There's little Intel can do to guarantee that BIOS companies and OS companies (Microsoft) will treat the CPU ID as "sensitive" data only to be given with the user's permission.

Think about it though, guys. The only way details like this can be sent over the web is if an applet requests your permission to retrieve it. It's the same thing with software serial numbers (like the Microsoft web registration stuff). The only way it can be sent without your permission is if the software is re-written specifically to do so. I can't imagine Microsoft doing that. In addition, re-enabling it (and requesting a reboot, deceptively so that you won't know it's re-enabled) is, again, a deception that must be deliberately written into the software. Have you any idea as to the PR nightmare that would cause once it's discovered (and it will be discovered very fast, especially in light of all the press this has gotten)? If you're worried, write them a letter and tell them your concerns. This isn't Intel's problem.

Do legislative bodies have technical advisors? (2)

Fastolfe (1470) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031510)

Are there panels of technical advisors that clue lawmakers in on things before the lawmakers blindly make decisions like this on little, typically inaccurate, information?

It seems to me that we shouldn't HAVE to bombard our legislature with corrections or educational letters in order for them to know the "real" story. If the sole source of information these people have is the mass media, we are in some serious trouble.

And what about CNN? How in the world can they get off by broadcasting misleading information like this? Don't THEY have some sort of technical staff reviewing these stories before they're released? I think it's time we have a few respectable news organizations step up and admit that most of the rest of the mass media is exaggarating the problem.

So what about Ethernet cards? (1)

Mark Pitman (1610) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031511)

Well, how is a CPU going to transmit its ID across the Internet? It is not the CPU we should be worried about here, it is the software. Maybe software that transmits the CPU ID across the Internet without the user's knowledge should be banned. But, really what is the big deal? How will you specifically be identified by your CPU ID? Is Intel going to register all purchasers of their CPUs and make that database available to companies? I highly doubt it. I'm sure there are any number of things on your computer that could be "broadcast across the Internet" that people would complain about. What about a list of what software is installed on your system, oh, wait, that's been done already...

Apparently someone didn't do homework (1)

red_dragon (1761) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031512)

And then you got a bunch of people who don't know a bit of what's inside the computer, let alone use it adequately, and the salespeople who plug the computers into their arses and don't know any better. The kind of people who form the bread and butter of Internet e-commerce because they are more eager to click on a link without knowing what it is for. Kinda like the average AOL customer.
These people would buy said chip if it's offered in an actractive way, unless they're told what's wrong with it. So, we can't just stand still and wait til the market settles, we must go and spread the word.

Brainless Arizona Legislature (1)

sky (1918) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031513)

Good point, though I'd think with all the butt-kissing the legislature does to attract big business here, they'd remember not to annoy the big businesses once they are here.

I remember when Intel moved in to New Mexico (I was there at the time), and I've since heard about the tailspin Albuquerque went into when they scaled back (or was it pulled out) of there. Not pretty.

But then, Intel isn't a sports franchise.
Legislators looove sports franchises...

Brainless Arizona Legislature (2)

sky (1918) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031514)

I laugh, sadly.

I live in Arizona; used to work for the state private industry pays much better) and I can tell you that the legislature here is the absolute stupidest elected body I have ever had the misfortune to deal with in my life.

Unfortunately, their advisors are no better.

Years of futilely voting for the best person for the job has made me cynical, except in one key issue: I can usually predict the losers in elections.

In reply to one comment, yes, the state government uses Sun servers. I personally know of at least five. This guy hasn't got a clue.


Overboard? (1)

Derek Pomery (2028) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031515)

So? The next time you reboot, it reports back. What's the problem?

Would also outlaw Network Cards, SCSI Disks... (1)

Brian Ristuccia (2238) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031516)

This law would also outlaw network cards - which have unique MAC addresses hardcoded, SCSI Disks - which have a serial number, and many modern modems - which also include serial numbers. If Ethernet cards didn't come pre-programed from the factory with a unique number, maintaining uniqueness on a large LAN would be a major hassle. (worse than the current situation with IP's, since bootp and dhcp won't work for this sort of thing.) Software serial numbers on SCSI drives and Modems help ensure that the correct version of firmware upgrades are installed.

This law is even lamer than Intel's suggestion that an easily tampered with serial number could help secure e-commerce. If it becomes official, folks in Arizona would have to manually set MAC addresses on all their new network cards, as well as risk installing unmatched firmware upgrades on their new SCSI drives and Modems.

What about Sun computers (1)

zaphod (2284) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031517)

Sun Sparc Stations have an EPROM on the mother board with its hostid on it. Would this law ban Sparcs?

It's not on the motherboard (1)

matomira (2943) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031518)

It's on a PROM in the front panel
or in the backplane, depending on the model.

i *heart* az! (1)

rbw (3143) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031519)

it never ceases to amaze me how idiotic my state legislature is. i think i'll contact Steve May [] (the guy who is going to introduce this bill) and inform him that his bill will force the state government to remove all its Ethernet cards. sheesh!

contact Steve May: email [mailto] | 602-542-5408


I don't get it (1)

nadador (3747) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031520)

Tell me what I don't see here. The slashdot community is in general having hissy fits over the idea of people being able to track everything you ever do on your computer by the identification number you'd get in a Pentium III. And the slashdot community is in general tired of American governments doing stupid things.

So when a state government stands up for internet privacy rights even though there are two HUGE Intel facilities in Arizona, including at least one design center and a fab, what do you do? You complain! I don't get it.

We all know that the story was badly worded and that is not meant as a site for people that now the difference between the serial number etched on chip, a serial number in eprom, or Intel's indentification serial number scheme. Just for once, can we be happy? Just once?

Andrew Gardner

I (you) don't get it (1)

nadador (3747) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031521)

Now, I understand that the government should be involved in as few things as possible, but a libertarian understanding of this situation is inadequate to fully describe it. If this technology can be used to bring about an age in which there is virtually no privacy in internet transactions, then government intervention is necessary if you believe in the ideal of internet privacy. As far as the free market determining these things, that relies upon fundamental assumptions that are lacking in this case.

We assume the public must be well informed enough to make intelligent decisions, but the general public doesn't know anything about encryption, serial numbers in IP packets, or anything else. The general public uses AOL and Microsoft products. Web servers run NT and IIS. People are obviously uninformed.

The free market functions only when the vast majority of people are operating under the same set of assumptions, under the same of information that is closely correlated to the truth. That isn't happening.

If we nerds (the only people with the information to make decisions like these) are to abdicate our role as leaders in favor of a libertarian, free market system full of people who don't have the fundamental understanding of these situations, we are guarenteed that whoever has the most money to market their ideas will win, regardless of cost, technical merit, or any other consideration.

Andrew Gardner

not likely (2)

Lurking Grue (3963) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031522)

There are a lot of tech firms around here. This guy is out of line. There's no way this will pass. I just wish that lawmakers like him would get clued before jumping in front of the microphone. Here's a link to his page if you'd like to (politely) let him know that this is a bad idea: smay.htm [] Please don't flame, just inform.

SGIs (1)

Bishop (4500) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031524)

Guess this means that anyone (in Arizona) with an SGI will have to get rid of it. I wonder if it applies to network cards? Ofcourse we call that number a MAC or hardware address, not a serial number. So I guess it's alright.

Something tells me this legislation isen't going to happen.

This is really dumb...this code shows why... (2)

emag (4640) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031525)

Even though I'm not in favor of PIII serial numbers, I think this bill is pretty stupid. For anyone who doesn't believe that other computers have serial numbers, compile this program on an SGI or a Sun (probably works on others, but I didn't test it)...


int main(int argc, char* argv[]) {
char buf[512];


printf("serial number: \"%s\"\n",buf);

Hey, guess we need to ban most workstations too now, since someone could incorporate this code into a web browser!

Once again, lawmakers show they know.....shit. (2)

Electric Eye (5518) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031526)

I just love how these yahoos jump on a technological bandwagon based on some unknown or undefined fear and try to make a law about it as soon as possible. How many times has our Congress done this?? I bet you 99% of the dolts in the state govt. of AZ have no clue about this topic other than what they've read in the papers. Yet, once the privacy alarms were sounded, they hopped on their white horses.
The point has been made already that Ethernet cards and several other types of chips already have IDs. I can see it now, the reaction from the stupid state govt: "What? Really? ummmmm.....Oh." (walks away scratching head) Let's find something a LITTLE more important to work on.....

Increadibly fucking stupid! (1)

jwhyche (6192) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031530)

I got to agree. This bill was still born before the ink was dry and the people the wrote it know it was. It could be AZ's congress', or whatever, way of saying "that our people don't want this in our state and if you try it we're going to ban it."

But more likly it's just a way to grab some press coverage and make a few brownie points with the privacy groups. Is it election time in AZ?

One of the dumbest ideas I've ever seen. (1)

Ignatius (6850) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031531)

You are missing 3 important facts here:

1. Not every computer has an Ethernet card but every computer needs a CPU.

2. The MAC adress can be changed easily with most Ethernet cards

3. It is trivial to build software to run only on a CPU with a certain ID, which would force customers to turn this feature on. Using MAC adresses for the same purpose wouldn't be very useful since not every computer has one and it it is next to impossible to read the MAC adress without relying on third party hardware drivers.

Overboard? (1)

Ignatius (6850) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031532)

This is easy to overcome: Silently change the BIOS setting and wait for the next reboot. After all, who checks his BIOS settings on every startup?

This is a hidden attack on privacy! (1)

Komodo (7029) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031533)

This reminds me of the time that some state legislature tried to set the official value of Pi to 3 at the insistence of some bible-banger.
But it's possible to override the ethernet ID on an ethernet card (and fairly easy, too), and it's also possible to do it on the PIII. What they want to restrict is non-overridable numbers... but not even then. There are products from security companys (smart cards, smart rings, etc) with cryptographic identifiers in them that people really do buy because they are a pain to forge.
All of a sudden it's impossible to use key-card doorlocks based on this technology! Big Brother wants you to have less security in your home and business! Someone should point this out to the legislature.

SGI's (1)

Dymaxion (7576) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031534)

I can't vouch for HP, Sun, etc., but I know that this would specifically exclude MIPS chips, as they all have serials in the CPU or CPU module. Really annoying when a chip blows and you have to not only wait for the new cpu but then also wait for new licenses for all of your nodelocked software...

Hewlett-Packard PC's with DMI have serial numbers (1)

kriston (7886) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031535)

The new Hewlett-Packard Kayak PC's are using DMI. DMI has many interesting features to allow for management of a Win32 system in a big office. One of the more interesting features of this system is the serial number reporting mechanism. There is a "Serial Number" and an "Asset Number," both of which are stored in non-volatile memory. The "Serial Number" is set at the factory and apparently cannot be changed. These serial number data are available through calls to the DMI agent on the system or via a suitable DMI-aware application.

Kriston J. Rehberg []

Message my ass (1)

scrytch (9198) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031537)

These are the same lawmakers protecting us and the rest of the world from an arms race in weapons of mass destruction like CRYPTO.

This is political opportunism by politicians who have made no attempt to understand the issue whatsoever. Unga, chip have number, some no like number, me no like number, people like me.

Neat move but..... (1)

MAXOMENOS (9802) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031538)

....didn't these legislators hear that Intel plans to drop the PID "feature" from their Pentium III design?

One of the dumbest ideas I've ever seen. (1)

yogiBear (10125) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031539)

My suggestion would be to make the use of
UltraSPARC chips and Solaris 7 mandatory and to
ban all other chips and operating systems. Welcome
to the brave new world!

All of these are SOFTWARE issues (1)

Dast (10275) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031540)

>The only way it can be sent without our
>permission is if the software is re-written
>specifically to do so. I can't imagine Microsoft
>doing that.

Nothing has stopped them from silently over-writting things and requesting a reboot before. Bah. Having an ID on a cpu is just a bad idea.

That's crazy (2)

binarybits (11068) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031541)

I am amazed that a lot of you are actually supporting this. If the SN's bother you, you have several choices: buy a PII, buy a clone, buy a Mac, boycott, etc. All Arizona is doing is taking away from users and manufacturers the right to choose what products they are goiing to buy and sell. It is a horrendous violation of Intel's right to make any damn chip it wants.

That's crazy (1)

HappyHead (11389) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031542)

I am amazed that a lot of you are actually supporting this.
Funny, most of the posts I see are opposed to it, although not for the reason you're saying. It is true though, Intel should be allowed to make any chip they want to - they could make a chip that costs $2Million and makes a "Ping" noise if they wanted to, and nobody should be force them not to. Of course, that dosen't mean anyone else has to buy it, and we all have the right to tell them it's a dumb idea. :)
The other problem with that law is (as previously mentioned) the sheer number of other systems that it would ban, which are already in use. Big Corp's like Chrysler tend to have a lot of SGI boxes around the place, and they'd have to replace all of them with dumbed-down weak boxes that wouldn't do the job right. Sorry, but there is no PC on the planet that can match a loaded down Challenge-XL, even with an equal ammount of cash dumped into it, and as far as I know, the equivalent Sun and HP servers have on-chip ID's as well. Hopefully someone who's around there will think to point this out to the lawmakers in question, I'm sure they wouldn't want to be responsible for a massive chunk of industry up and leaving their state.
They're targeting the wrong problem anyways, since chip-IDs are pretty much old news anyhow, and can be usefull in identifying stolen equipment. (Kinda like the serial number on a bicycle, but even harder to get rid of.) What they should be doing is banning the use of chip-IDs as a form of verification for supposedly secure commerce - they're too easy to fake, and would lead the unknowing masses into a false sense of safety, while they all get ripped off.

Increadibly fucking stupid! (1)

Kope (11702) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031543)

Ummm don't these people realize that it is exteremlly common in larger servers systems to embed a serial number in the chip? The general effect of this would be to ban mid-range and larger systems. As well as ethernet cards, hardware incryption cards, and a whole host of other hardware.
Dumb, dumber and legislators.

TI Graphing calculators. (1)

Tycho (11893) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031544)

This bill from Arizona also would possibly also make many recent Texas Instruments graphing calculators with Flash ROMs illegal. Somewhere in my TI-89 there is a serial number embedded in it. I'm not exactly sure how it is implemented though. Granted these calculators aren't exactly common, yet.

Next thing you know... (1)

Maniacal (12626) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031545)

...they'll want to vote in Daylight Savings Time. No more reason to want to live here. I'm movin.

Be careful what you ask for... (1)

A Big Gnu Thrush (12795) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031547)

How different is this from the DOJ Microsoft case? I know. It's not similar at all on the surface, but the underlying theme is one of government attempting to protect users from oppressive corporations.

It is a PR ploy on behalf of the politicians. It does make a statement, but only one about how far governments will go to interfere with the privacy and private lives of individuals.

Every time you cheer for another blow to big bad Bill (Gates, that is, not the other blow to the other Bill) remember that it won't be the last time a government agency sticks their fingers into the technology pie.

If this doesn't sound bad to you, just think that Al Gore is the government's Alpha Geek.

Solution: Consumer pressure, not Govt regulation (2)

mlmurray (12934) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031548)

This is what happens when we relinquish our responsibilities to the government.

The correct way to deal with the PIII serial number issue is simply not to buy a CPU that you feel comprimises your privacy. Believe me, when Intel figures out that the reason their latest and greatest isn't selling is because consumers don't like this 'feature' they'll take it out. I don't care what other motives Intel has for having it in there, they are still driven by the bottom line.

When we allow the government to 'protect' us like this we are surrendering a little more of what freedom we do have left. Enough is enough.

So what about Ethernet cards? (1)

specht (13174) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031549)

I hate when this happens... Why does this form
always react to , just because I want to
finish the Subject line?

Anyway: Every ethernet card has a kind of serial number in it. This could also be used to track users - and it's used for copy protection already. Will Arizona ban all ethernet cards as well?

So what about Ethernet cards? (1)

specht (13174) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031550)

Anyway: Every ethernet card has a kind of serial number in it. This could also be used to track users - and it's used for copy protection already. Will Arizona ban all ethernet cards as well?

Arizona: land of beauty and contradiction (1)

LabWeasel (13540) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031552)

This is all perfect.
Sure, SOME people might see a contradiction here,
between Intel plants and banning the PIII.
But it's just another perfectly normal day in Arizona. :) I love this state!

Politics (1)

Xiver (13712) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031556)

Its a shame that our system of government thinks it is their
responsibility to make laws concerning things they know
very little, if anything, about. As long as they get enough
press I suppose it does not matter if they are right or wrong.
Maybe if some of their constituents took the time to write
about how ludicrous some of their ideas are this would
happen less and less.

Arizona State Legislature []

Overboard? (1)

AMADANON Inc. (14518) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031557)

>I may be incorrect, but I believe that you had to
> actually reboot your machine to unlock the
> serial id, which precludes companies
> doing this.

You mean you'd notice if a windows program said
"Installation complete. You will have to restart your computer before you can use it. Reboot now?"

MAC addresses (1)

AMADANON Inc. (14518) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031558)

>The processor ID's are unnecessary. The MAC
>addresses are needed

Umm.. why?

Yes, I know the protocol. But then, IP addresses need to be unique, and the solution is dynamic ip addresses (as used in PPP).

Pick a random number, check if it's being used, and hey presto.

Protecting your privacy (1)

dwoodworth (14920) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031560)

Republicans: so concerned about your privacy, unless you are:
1. female, pregnant, and don't want kids
2. homosexual
3. heterosexual with a healthy imagination
4. HIV-positive
5. Bill Clinton.
And don't get me started on the f***ing Democrats.

When it comes to politicians, my favorite quote is
from the movie "Manhunter", when Hannibal "The
Cannibal" Lector replies to the message from his
admirer. (Look it up if you're interested, I don't
need some nutcase cybercop thinking I'm totally

Even if it does not pass... (1)

otis (14970) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031561)

Even if it does not pass I think it sends a clear message about people wanting privacy.

As to the above ethernet card issues, How many people on the net are connected by modem and how many by ethernet? For most internet users ethernet id tracking is not an issue

Doug Bryant

You guys are missing the point... (1)

tdsanchez (15549) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031562)

Dude (Dudette?)...

The possiblity of being identified by a serial # over the net has been a possiblity for _years_.

Checkout this site [] if you have a network card and know its hardware (MAC) address. Should be something like 02:06:82:45:34.

Cannot believe this.. but we shouldn't be suprised (2)

tdsanchez (15549) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031563)

Stupid people trying to kill something they don't understand....

Here is a copy of an e-mail I just sent to this representative:

Hello Mr. May.

Although I am no longer a constituent in Arizona, I did grow up and go to college there. I worked for Intel as a circuit design engineer from 1994 through last year, and I must tell you that your proposed bill to ban serialized integrated circuits is, at best, and uninformed attempt to ban a technology you do not even understand.

Intel's press release that it's serialized Pentium III's was little more than a marketing ploy, albeit a poorly orchestrated one. I will not argue that Intel's suggested use of serialization on it's chips leave many questions regarding privacy unanswered but consider the following:

1. It is quite likely that Intel has been selling (and manufacturing in Arizona) IC's that have been serialized for years.
2. Other manufacturers also have motivation serialize their chips. Motorola is an example.
3. Many other components on a PC, such as motherboard BIOS's, Ethernet network cards, and thousands, possibly millions of components already in use contain serialization.
4. Most (if not all) software on the market includes a unique serial ID that is easily readable through software and can be used to 'track' users. Windows 98 automatic software update feature is a good example of a technology that already makes good use of this type of technology.

The bill you propose could have the following consequences if, by some odd twist of fate, it were to pass:
1. It would cripple the computing infrastructure of most companies, since the local area network (ethernet) cards would become illegal.
2. The ban on manufacture of serialized chips would likely shut down operations of large portions of two of the biggest employers in Arizona, namely, Intel and Motorola, even if the aforementioned network card issue was given reprieve. Let's not forget ST Microelectronics, Honeywell/Bull, Burr Brown and Microchip.
3. The ensuing economic disruption would surely cost the Arizona legislature millions (if not billions) in litigation defending cases brought by these companies, not to mention the economic havoc that would be associated with turning tens of thousands of Arizonan's away from their jobs.
4. It would demonstrate that Arizona's state legislature is as uninformed and non-sensical as is sometimes joked about by it constituents.

-name omitted for \. post-

Apparently someone didn't do homework (1)

fuerstma (15683) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031564)

Jeez. Looks like the Az. lawmakers didn't do much homework, considering they are backing themselves into a corner by limiting a number of needed devices (Ethernet) and computers. DUH.

Seems like a god idea gone awry. I agree that Intel's idea is totally kooky, but I am one to believe that the market should determine itself. Hey, I don't want a chip that goes on spouting off my information, so I won't buy one. What a crazy idea that is. And then, I can form a group of buyers, and say, "Hey, you are going to lose all these Millions of dollars" to "The Man". Looks like that worked better than any law ever will.

Bad, but still good? (1)

speed (15842) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031565)

Even if it's silly, isn't this still a good thing? It seems to me that the point is to send a message to corporations saying that this state respects and will try to defend its resident's privacy. Far too often a state will bend over backwards to please corporations (tax breaks, free loans, etc.) and ignore the damage it might be doing to the residents. Sure, the bill is chock full ignorance, but at least it's voicing an opinion. They might be dumb, but if you can influence your political representatives you can really get your message across.

Corporate rights?? Err... (1)

speed (15842) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031566)

>It is a horrendous violation of Intel's right

Please quote the bit in the constitution that covers Rights of Corporations.

I don't think there is one. Corporations don't have rights like you and I do. If they did they would have killed us all off long ago. Seems like far too many people think there is some sort of constitutional protection for corporations.

Intel cannot make any chip it wants to make. I'm sure the exploding chip or the heroin chip would be outlawed. Az CAN pass any bill it wants to, as long as it doesn't interfere with federal law.

Bad, but still good? (1)

speed (15842) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031567)

Even if the bill passed, which it probably won't because of some federal commerce law somewhere, you'd still be able to buy a PIII. The bill doesn't outlaw the chip, it just says they can't be made or sold in the state (note: you can still buy them, just not in the state...internet is probably the best place to find 'em cheap anyway), and that the government will not be using them.
I don't really see how it hurts the individual. Maybe it hurts the people that want to physically drive to store to buy computer hardware...

Who's paranoid?

I (you) don't get it (1)

speed (15842) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031568)

Um. I don't know about that....
Cars would probably never have been made safer if the government had not intervened.

The free market thing only works if there are viable alternatives to the product or policy. And I mean really viable, not just out there (case in point, Windows..most people hate it, but most people use it).

It seems to me there are far more cases of the government 'interfering' on behalf of the people than there are cases where a boycott was successful.

Nutcases (1)

Mudhiker (15850) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031570)

I have met several politicians and candidates and they were ok folks. Be careful not to make harsh generalizations.

It's the software, stupid! (1)

El (94934) | more than 15 years ago | (#2031574)

I suppose that because it is now technologically possible to set up cameras everywhere to do optical character recognition on license plates, allowing someone to track all the cars anywhere they go, therefore license plates should also be outlawed?

A clue to the AZ legislature: if you want to do something productive then regulate tracking software, not hardware. A chip simply cannot, in and of itself, send an ID anywhere!
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