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Advisory group asks EU to consider Pentium III ban

November 29, 1999
Web posted at: 8:57 a.m. EST (1357 GMT)

by Mary Lisbeth D'Amico


MUNICH (IDG) -- An advisory group to the European Parliament is asking the government body to consider banning Intel Corp.'s Pentium III chip in Europe for privacy reasons.

In a report on electronic surveillance techniques presented last week to the European Parliament, the Science and Technology Options Assessment Panel (STOA), asked that parliamentary committee members consider legal measures that would "prevent these chips from being installed in the computers of European citizens."

Such measures would be taken only after a group of technical experts first assesses the security risks to consumers connected to the product, STOA said in its report, posted on the Internet. The report is entitled "Encryption and Cryptosystems in Electronic Surveillance: A Survey of the Technology Assessment Issues."

The STOA report also calls on U.S. government agencies, including the National Security Association and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to "provide information on their role in the creation of the PSN (personal serial number) created by Intel." The recommendation on the Intel chip is one of a series of recommendations that STOA makes on how to improve security for European citizens.

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Intel's new Pentium III chip first drew attention from privacy advocates earlier this year when it was discovered that it contains a unique PSN that could allow outside parties to track a user without the user's knowledge.

The serial number in Intel's Pentium III chip was initially touted by Intel as a way to make electronic commerce easier. When groups protested the PSN, however, Intel said it would make software available that lets users switch off the serial number function. However, experts doubted whether this could be accomplished.

STOA is an organization devoted to advising the European Union on topics related to electronic surveillance. Earlier this year, STOA submitted an exhaustive report on the methods used by intelligence organizations to ferret out information, including unauthorized interception of commercial satellites, long-distance communications from space, undersea cables using submarines, and data transmissions over the Internet.

STOA and other privacy groups believe that governments in Europe are seeking to extend the surveillance methods they use for phone calls to data transmissions over the Internet. More recently, the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups set up a Web site to monitor what they believe are global efforts to spy on citizens. Such groups have asked the U.S. Congress and other governments to investigate such efforts.

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Intel ID debate reignites
(PC World Online)
FTC meets with privacy groups over Pentium III complaint
Intel's Pentium security woes continue
Privacy group to file FTC complaint on Pentium III
(The Industry Standard)
Security takes front seat at Pentium preview
Intel reviews Pentium III's identity problem
(PC World Online)
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STOA report recommending Pentium III ban
ACLU Web site on electronic surveillance
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