High-tech leaders join on trust, security standards

The 3-year-old Trusted Computing Platform Alliance (TCPA) is being replaced with a new industry group that will establish trust and security standards for all kinds of software and hardware from computers to PDAs and cellular phones.

In an announcement yesterday, the new Trusted Computing Group (TCG) said it will expand the reach of the old TCPA beyond the PC platform to bring the standards to a new range of offerings not imagined when the original group was formed in October 1999.

Anne Price, a spokeswoman for Portland, Ore.-based TCG, said the new nonprofit body will have other changes from the former alliance that it's replacing. The TCG will have membership dues and a trust and security logo program for vendors to use to label products that conform with its specifications. It will also create and adopt standards to drive consumer and business confidence in future devices.

"The idea is that security would be ubiquitous," Price said. "It's not just PCs anymore."

The TCG will adopt the specifications begun by the old alliance and will use them to continue development and implementation of future standards for devices. "The specifications will continue to live," Price said.

The old alliance has more than 190 members, including founders Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM, the former Compaq Computer Corp., Intel Corp. and Microsoft Corp.

The TCG's founding members are Advanced Micro Devices Inc., HP, IBM, Intel and Microsoft. Other new members include National Semiconductor Corp., Nokia Corp. and VeriSign Inc.

According to Price, it was easier to start fresh with a new structure and bylaws than to reconfigure the old group to fit the new needs. Jim Ward, the new chairman and president of TCG, said the broader scope of its mission is shown by new members, including consumer electronics maker Sony Corp. and cell phone maker Nokia Corp.

Previously, the alliance could only make decisions by unanimous consent. But the new organization will be able to decide issues based on a supermajority voting structure, which is more in line with other standards bodies. "We thought it was the right time to make the change," said Ward, who works at IBM as a member of its security strategy team.

The group will also address other new issues that were outside the scope of the original alliance, Price said, including intellectual property licensing and a broad marketing, trusted computing, privacy and education mission designed to communicate the group's role in technology standards development.

The TCG expects to develop and promote open standards for hardware-enabled trusted computing and security technologies -- including hardware building blocks and software interfaces -- across multiple platforms, peripherals and devices. TCG specifications will seek to enable secure computing environments without compromising functional integrity, privacy or individual rights so users can protect their data, passwords, security keys and other information from digital attacks.

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