Microsoft calls for talks on Internet trust, safety

Launches 'End to End Trust' effort, touts 'trusted stack' and calls for input

Even the Charney white paper, which Microsoft posted to its Web site following Mundie's address, was light on details and heavy on generalities. Stathakopoulos said that is by design. "This isn't a strategic or prescriptive paper. We already have the solutions for many of these problems. This is more a call for the industry coming together.

"Let's have an open discussion."

The introduction of End to End Trust does not mean that Microsoft considers its own security efforts finished and done, countered Stathakopoulos when asked to clarify some of Charney's statements. "We still have a lot of work [on security] ahead of us," he said. "We still have to do the fundamentals on our own software.

"Trustworthy Computing was the springboard to getting our own products more secure," said Stathakopoulos. "But can we move those concepts to the Internet as a whole? This isn't something like a silver bullet. It's more a long-term plan."

Much of Charney's white paper was devoted to authentication issues, including establishing identities on the Internet to, for example, provide children-only zones where kids can interact without the fear of adult predators. Other sections spelled out long-time Microsoft ideas, such as linking the operating system with the hardware for a "trusted boot" environment that guarantees the code hasn't been tampered with, and digitally signed applications.

But Charney also took time to promise what the End to End Trust would not do. "First, nothing in this paper is meant to suggest that anonymity on the Internet be abolished," wrote Charney. "Second, nothing in this paper is meant to create unique, national identifiers, even if some countries are creating identity systems that do so. Third, nothing in this paper supports the creation of mega-databases that collect personal information."

"A lot of the concepts [in End to End Trust] already exist on the Internet, all of which we generally support," Stathakopoulos said.

He acknowledged that not everyone will take to Microsoft's pitch, or acknowledge its right to step up and call for talks. "In the end, our actions will speak for themselves," he said.

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