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OEMs can switch off PIII serial numbers – Intel

Meanwhile, US privacy furore roars on

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Chip giant Intel now says that OEMs will have the ability to switch off a registration number embedded in Pentium III chips. That means the Compaqs, Dells and HPs of this world could ship product without antagonising US privacy groups. There is already an ability to switch off the identification number using software shipping with PCs. The move follows a growing controversy in the United States over a potential threat to privacy. An Intel representative said: "We're not forcing people to use [the serial number]. OEMs will have the option to switch off the serial number." He pointed out that, in any case, it is relatively easy to trace people's identity when they use the Internet through their IP numbers. Intel had gone through a process where it contemplated whether or not to ship Pentium IIIs with the serial number switched off or on. He said that when people wanted to trade and buy across the Internet, it was conceivable that the transaction could depend on the serial number being switched on. He said that Intel had struck no deals with companies like Visa or Mastercard, but said large organisations wanted security for financial transactions. AMD has not yet said whether it will introduce a similar system on its chips. ® Related Stories Intel says it won't track individuals Intel adds serial numbers, random numbers to PIII

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