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Craig Mundie Wants "Internet Driver's Licenses" 427

Posted by timothy
from the genuine-advantage dept.
I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "Craig Mundie, Microsoft's Chief Research and Strategy Officer, called for the creation of an 'Internet Driver's License' at the World Economic Forum in Davos, saying, 'If you want to drive a car you have to have a license to say that you are capable of driving a car, the car has to pass a test to say it is fit to drive and you have to have insurance.' Of course, there are quite a few problems with this. For starters, internet use cannot yet cause death or dismemberment like car accidents can; and this would get rid of most of the good of internet anonymity while retaining all of the bad parts, especially in terms of expanding the market for stolen identities. Even though telephone networks have long been used by scammers and spammers/telemarketers, we've never needed a 'Telephone Driver's License.'"
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Craig Mundie Wants "Internet Driver's Licenses"

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  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @07:52PM (#31029434) Homepage

    will they take away your license?

  • by Droce (1736948) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @07:52PM (#31029444)
    Now I can tell someone they fail at the internet!
  • by mmcxii (1707574) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @07:54PM (#31029456)
    First links that link to blogs that link to articles. Then links to social networks to link to links that link to articles.

    Where does the stupidity end?
  • Proof (Score:5, Funny)

    by Some.Net(Guy) (1733146) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @07:54PM (#31029462) Homepage
    that MS is just inviting crazy homeless people to come in and run their operations.
  • we need a law? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ralphdaugherty (225648) <ralph@ee.net> on Thursday February 04, 2010 @07:54PM (#31029464) Homepage

    since when do laws stop the bad guys?

    • Re:we need a law? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by GreatBunzinni (642500) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @08:30PM (#31029840)

      More importantly, this measure is not targeted at "bad guys". When some idiot such as this Craig Mundie speaks about this concept of the "internet driver's license", what he is campaigning for is the ability to not only identify everyone who uses the internet but also the convenience of having any state's repressive power to ban anyone from the internet who disrespected any arbitrary rule these fools are trying to impose on the rest of the world. And the thing is, we aren't talking about criminal acts, as these are already punished by imprisonment. This sort of measure is intended to open the door for the ability to inflict arbitrary punishment on those who do not follow rules set forth by righteous idiots who believe they know better than the stupid masses.

      But hey, let's call it "driver's license", as it's a very convenient term to associate with this oppressive measure as it's widely regarded by society as banal government grant. This sort of totalitarian measure desperately needs a cuddly face to be able to fly. Let's not mention what it really is: a corporate-tailored totalitarian attack on individual freedom intended to punish non-criminal acts which are frowned upon corporate execs such as mr Craig Mundie.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Thoguth (203384)

        You know, this isn't really a response to you, but while reading your post it occurred to me that any company *can* make a network that sits on top of the internet, to which all those rules apply. If Microsoft wants to create a Microsoft network of some kind, they can implement any restriction they want ... maybe the licensed, approved-user-only model will be compelling. With the XBox, MS already controls a platform pretty well, and ... well, to tell the truth, XBoxLive or whatever the network is that you

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Locutus (9039)
      You are making the mistake of thinking this has anything to do with stopping bad guys. They are losing control of the primary computing device people use so they would really like to have some control of who does what on the network. More signs of the brilliance found at One Microsoft Way, Redmond WA.

      LoB
  • by tyrione (134248) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @07:55PM (#31029476) Homepage

    Even here in the U.S., one of the most common Internet-related questions that I receive is also one of the most deeply disturbing: Why can't the U.S. require an Internet "driver's license" so that there would be no way (ostensibly) to do anything anonymously on the Net?

    The road to ruin was paved with good intentions. However, that includes ludicrous ideas.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by GreatBunzinni (642500)

      More to the point, who exactly believes that the ability to freely express our own ideas how we see fit and without any danger of being attacked and punished by it is somehow bad or even dangerous to anyone? Who exactly is so afraid of free communication of ideas and the freedom to share information in order to be so desperate to beg any country's government to quench their citizen's ability to do that sort of thing? To put it in other words, who is so desperately afraid of not only their own countrymen b

  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris.beau@org> on Thursday February 04, 2010 @07:56PM (#31029490)

    Considering that enforcing a license requirement just here in the US would be nigh on impossible without rethinking everything and that the odds of doing anything of the sort worldwide is less than zero I'm left wondering just what problem this idea is intended to solve?

    Hint, it ain't any problem we users have and it ain't a problem the network operators are having. And since the practice of allowing Microsoft products to connect to the Internet is the bulk of the spam/zombie/malware problem I guess we would license every host as well as user. Any any license scheme that permitted Microsoft crap to operate would be considered toothless and any that banned them would get called 'draconian.' No win scenario. The only winning move is not to play.

  • by enriquevagu (1026480) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @07:56PM (#31029500)
    Great idea, Microsoft! Even more, the Internet Driver's License should be followed by the "System Administrator Driver's License", so only people who know the risks present in Internet, and know their own computer OS, can run with Adminnistrator privileges.

    Oh, wait...

  • Great segue (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thethibs (882667) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @07:58PM (#31029510) Homepage
    Craig Mundie is making Dick Brass' point about Microsoft losing its competent people.
  • Cui Bono? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kramer (19951) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @07:59PM (#31029524) Homepage

    Of course, it would be completely coincidental that Microsoft would offer training, software and certification to help get your Internet driver's license, right?

  • by afidel (530433) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @08:00PM (#31029532)
    It was supposed to be a tale of warning about the pitfalls of technology and big government, not a roadmap for where we should be heading. I swear there's a certain class of people that don't understand that concept or maybe they do and they just really hope they get to be the masters pet.
    • by shadowofwind (1209890) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @08:15PM (#31029700)

      I swear there's a certain class of people that don't understand that concept or maybe they do and they just really hope they get to be the masters pet.

      I think most of them never reflect enough to be more than vaguely aware of it, they just think in terms of controlling their environment in a way that benefits themselves. A few of the brighter ones do have an idea of where its going, but they don't care.

      I think most of the rest of us aren't smart or powerful enough to manipulate the system very much that way, but in a sense we have it coming, because we do not sufficiently value freedom. And I don't just mean freedom from oppressive governments and big business, but also freedom from lots of other things ranging from debt to chronic dependence on prescription drugs.

      And yes, almost everyone wants to be the masters pet. You can cut the head off of practically any abusive power structure and it will grow back, because nearly everyone's trying to climb one rung higher on the backs of those beneath them.

      On the up side, that's only half the dynamic. Some things are getting worse, but some things are getting better also.

      • by peipas (809350)

        If you have enough money you can pretty much do what you want. Money fuels politics.

        The simplest answer is usually the correct one.

  • by hguorbray (967940) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @08:01PM (#31029536)
    Although Google, et al can chip away at our privacy this would completely stifle free speech and dissent.

    I know that some view ACs and their ilk as idiots clogging up discourse, but for a flip side of the coin how about the efforts to 'Out' Prop 8 contributors in Calif so they can be harrassed by gay activists?

    -Not that I supported prop 8, but I do mod ACs up if they have something useful/interesting to say.

    On the other hand, I don't disagree that there should perhaps be some required qualifications for hosting/administering websites, dealing with credit card transactions, userdbs, etc, but that is very different than (what I think) is being proposed.

    I'm just sayin'
  • Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @08:02PM (#31029544)

    Craig Mundie, Microsoft's Chief Research and Strategy Officer, called for the creation of an 'Internet Driver's License' at the World Economic Forum in Davos, saying, 'If you want to drive a car you have to have a license to say that you are capable of driving a car, the car has to pass a test to say it is fit to drive and you have to have insurance.'

    In other words, Windows doesn't suck - The users do.

    The drivers license analogy is being used to shift some of the blame from the OS to its users.

    • by goldaryn (834427)

      In other words, Windows doesn't suck - The users do. The drivers license analogy is being used to shift some of the blame from the OS to its users.

      "If the steering wheel stops responding at 70mph, simply turn the engine off and back on!"

      • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @08:26PM (#31029810) Homepage Journal

        In other words, Windows doesn't suck - The users do.

        The drivers license analogy is being used to shift some of the blame from the OS to its users.

        "If the steering wheel stops responding at 70mph, simply turn the engine off and back on!"

        You work for Toyota?

      • In other words, Windows doesn't suck - The users do. The drivers license analogy is being used to shift some of the blame from the OS to its users.

        "If the steering wheel stops responding at 70mph, simply turn the engine off and back on!"

        But first you have to close all windows.

    • Microsoft Products - Unsafe at anyspeed

  • by StreetStealth (980200) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @08:02PM (#31029546) Journal

    Bruce Schneier had a pretty good takedown [schneier.com] of this kind of argument just the other day.

    Accept that you'll never truly know where a packet came from. Work on the problems you can solve: software that's secure in the face of whatever packet it receives, identification systems that are secure enough in the face of the risks. We can do far better at these things than we're doing, and they'll do more to improve security than trying to fix insoluble problems.

  • Ham radio (Score:5, Interesting)

    by KC1P (907742) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @08:03PM (#31029552) Homepage

    So this is like a ham license for landlines which sort of *act* like public airwaves. It's actually not SUCH a bad idea -- it sure keeps the S/N ratio up in the ham bands. Even if the test is virtually unfailable, the overall sense of earned-privilege vs. god-given-right seems to add a few percent to the general level of maturity you get. It'll never happen though!

  • I agree (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JumpDrive (1437895) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @08:04PM (#31029562)
    You should have to have a license to operate Windows. Any other OS you don't need one. Licensing should be issued by the nearest LUG for a small fee.

    What the hell is this bonehead talking about? They have a 90% market share. Just make up a required course that people must take to buy your software and be done with it. Or make it so that IE doesn't work unless you have used a smart card that reads your license.
  • This is the best idea that this guy could come up with?
  • by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @08:05PM (#31029580) Homepage

    1. It would probably be illegal for the US government to require "drivers licenses" for general Internet use. The Internet is primarily a medium for the dissemination of speech, and the US government is prohibited from demanding that people obtain permission before speaking [wikipedia.org].

    2. Even if done privately, requiring people to identify themselves for any and all uses of the internet is likely a bad idea [schneier.com].

  • by Dan667 (564390) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @08:09PM (#31029636)
    Seems like there are a lot of more important ones that should get priority.
  • I've seen many people on Slashdot suggest such a thing. Microsoft may be ridiculous, but it's likely they didn't come up with the idea.

    In any case, the idea itself isn't terrible - it's only consequences of this that make it a bad idea (loss of anonymity, censorship, etc). The concept itself isn't a bad one. Loads of people aren't competent enough to not ruin it for everyone else.

    If I were inclined to suggest something like this, it would be an ISP level thing. The ISP by default would allow you on to a NAT

  • by BlueFiberOptics (883376) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @08:09PM (#31029642) Homepage
    As much as I like to joke that some people need licenses to operate a computer or use the Internet, this would be a bad thing. We'd all end up with license numbers and sites would start to require us to register with those numbers if we wanted to use those services. For many Internet-based services in Korea, you must enter a citizen ID.
  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @08:10PM (#31029654)

    The article linked in the article posted here provides some context [rawstory.com]. He seemed to have been talking about this as a way of preventing cyber attacks, you'd have your license revoked if your computer was compromised and could be used in an attack. MS seems to have been trying to cover their asses: "It's not our fault, if we would just put this intrusive system in place, which has no chance of working, but more importantly would never be funded and never built, then the problem will be solved." The next time a problem with MS products creates a serious problem, they'll say "We told you so! If you had just put up a billion dollars to make the drivers license system, it might not have completely failed, and this could have been avoided! Your fault!"

  • by dangitman (862676) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @08:12PM (#31029672)

    we've never needed a 'Telephone Driver's License

    Probably because you don't drive a telephone.

    • WHOOSH!

      Some countries use a TV licence. You need a licence to operate certain classes of radio transmitter.

      Aside from the meaningless inclusion of the word "driver's", it's actually not that far removed from reality. The problem is, by including the word "driver's", it draws comparison with, well, drivers' licences, and implies that you should be compelled to buy insurance and have your equipment pass Internet readiness standards before a licence will be issued. It also implies that taxes will be collected

  • by krray (605395)

    Simply a dumb idea. NeXT.

  • Licences for OS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by POds (241854) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @08:16PM (#31029710) Homepage Journal

    Perhaps the licences should be handed out to Operating Systems based on compliance with web standards... I wonder if MS Windows would be given one?

  • I for one welcome our new Free Speech Licenses.
  • by david.emery (127135) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @08:22PM (#31029768)

    I'm NO fan of Microsoft (which I hold responsible for a lot of the malware problems on the 'Net), nor am I a big fan of PKI (I think the implementations are way to fragile), but I think there might be a worthy idea in here.

    Drivers Licenses have two uses:
        1. Certification of driving skills
        2. A nationally recognized identity
    Consider this for use #2...

    So what if the government issued an "Internet ID Card", with PKI Certs, etc, that would be used to secure email, transactions, etc? This is by no means a panacea, but as a factor in 2-factor ID, it might well cut down on some forms of malware.

    Yes, there -are- civil liberty implications. But we always have the tension between known identity and guaranteed privacy.

    So as a form of tougher ID on the Internet, I think this deserves to be taken seriously, and the plusses and minuses (as established here...) should be debated.

    • by headkase (533448)
      You know you are getting old when you think you should drive the speed limit. -- E.A. Gilliam <- Fortune currently displayed on this page.

      The problem is that it *will* be abused, as in you are well and truly fucked. Even if it just happens to *you* that is way too many people. Best come up with solutions that have no civil liberties "compromises."
  • Let's make a deal... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @08:22PM (#31029770)

    If users are like drivers, then OS providers are like car manufacturers.

    So let's require drivers licenses, if and only if Microsoft:

    • Can be sued when its brakes fail.
    • Must issue recalls on all defective operating systems, regardless of how old the operating system is.
    • Must subject its operating systems to safety tests.
    • Must permit the government to review all of its designs when there are questions of safety.
    • Must provide drivers enough information to fix their cars if/when Microsoft is slow to do so.

    After all, dangers cars are just as serious as dangerous drivers, right?

  • Excuse me, why is anyone listening to what MS has to say about Internet security, again?

  • by blugu64 (633729) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @08:24PM (#31029786) Homepage

    I just had a packet collision!

  • Marketing (Score:2, Insightful)

    This sounds like a marketing person annoyed that nearly everyone who is forced to fill out their stupid forms to get some needed content is telling Microsoft that they are 98 year old Afghan woman with an income over $100,000. I love power-tripping types like this: Lifeguards who seem to think that they are there to do anything but pull drunks out of the water. Police who think that they are there to do anything but pull drunks off their girlfriends. TSA people who think they are there to do anything but sm
  • Just another attempt by to regulate and/or control the internet, I can just bet that he has a shiny Powerpoint presentation all prepped about how suited MS would be to manage the corporate planning and data management.

    About as subtle as Vlad and the Count soliciting for charitable donations :

    "to de Blood bank... I mean Red Cross, yes. No, you don't hawe to come in, ve vill be ower.. , Ve Vill send an agent by right avay! Oh yes it is wery conwenient for you, Ve know exactly vhere you are, I mean, ve hawe y

  • Questions (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bXTr (123510) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @08:41PM (#31029928) Homepage
    Civil rights issues aside, there are other questions about this "proposal".
    • What authority would be responsible for issuing these licenses?
    • What are the criteria one would have to pass when obtaining a license?
    • Assuming one would have to pay a fee for the license (nothing is free in this world), how much would one have to pay?
    • What exactly would the monies collected in license fees be used for?
    • What authority would be responsible for policing and enforcement of being licensed?
    • What would be the benefit to the licensee? What would we get in return that we don't already have now?
    • How will the information being collected from licensees be safeguarded from abuse by those within and without the licensing authority?
    • If I'm traveling to another country, would the license be valid there, or would I need to obtain yet another license from that country?
    • What about businesses that allow Internet access to their employees? Would the individual license be valid at work, or would the company have to obtain its own license?
    • Would government agencies also be required to obtain licenses?

    Those are only the few questions I could come up with in ten minutes time. There are certainly many more beyond these. I would like to hear Mr. Mundie's answers to these questions along with the complete plan for putting this into place. I'll wait.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Voyager529 (1363959)

      I had very similar thoughts...that, and the fact that the RIAA/MPAA would just *LOVE* a system that matches identities with IP addresses and could derivatively add "unlicensed data transmission", "allowing an unlicensed minor to go online", "unreasonable network congestion", and any number of other crimes to file sharing. Oh...and bucks to beans that they would add questions like "downloading music and movies is: A.) a good idea, but only if you pay for it B.) a guaranteed way to get viruses, C.)piracy (exc

  • Where are all of the /. libertarians? What, are you people on vacation today? This is the stupidest idea so far this year! How could a libertarian possibly even consider this? What next, a license to use a cell phone? A license to operate the computer itself? A license to operate household appliances? A license to use a garden hose?
  • Craig Mundie, Microsoft's Chief "Research" and "Strategy" Officer really ought to try getting his own R&D shop under control [slashdot.org].

    Maybe he should be back in Redmond trying to fix his company's joke of an R&D process (ZUNE!!!) rather than pontificate at Davos to VIPs who actually might mistake him for somebody with a clue about technology.
  • by gig (78408)

    There's no way Windows would pass any kind of Internet-readiness test, it gets viruses and lacks the basic network security features of Unix systems. So it is weird to hear this guy say our Internet "cars" need certification.

    Do you think you need to take a test to use an iPad? The reason so many XP are out there is the massive user training to go to a newer Windows nets no productivity benefit, yet people trade in their old phones for iPhone and without any training the Web browser and a couple of key apps

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by phantomfive (622387)

      lacks the basic network security features of Unix systems.

      Wait, what? I know in the past windows security was a joke, but what basic network security features does it lack? In Windows 7 you don't run as administrator by default, and it comes with a firewall. Permission levels have been there for a long time. What security features are you talking about?

  • by MrCrassic (994046) <deprecated&ema,il> on Thursday February 04, 2010 @08:48PM (#31029980) Journal

    Okay, I kid; this idea really sucks. I'm sure others here have picked up on this, but from just pondering it for thirty seconds:

    • 1) (An aside) The headline is quite misleading; for a moment, I thought the article suggested porting physical driving licenses to an online medium, which isn't that good or that useful of an idea
    • 2) What will this theoretical license allow and disallow? Would I have my internet account revoked because I forgot to sign up for a license? What would provoke such action?
    • 3) This license would need physically-identifiable information, which probably means a social security number. Forget bank account hacking; this will be where the money's at. Which leads to...
    • 4) Where would such a license be stored? If it's local, what happens when I wipe my PC? Can I re-download it from "the cloud?" And what happens if my license were stolen from "the cloud?"
    • 5) How would this be enforced anyway? What if I'm connecting via tor or an anonymizing proxy?

    I'm sure these questions can get addressed with enough thought, but I really hope this doesn't grow beyond that point.

  • I think what we need instead is a Computer Driver Test, which should include a basic theory test about general concepts behind computers. The computer is a tool for the brain. Stupid people should not be allowed to use a computer, not any more than blind people should be allowed to drive.
  • Funny (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) <marc.paradise@NOsPAm.gmail.com> on Thursday February 04, 2010 @08:54PM (#31030022) Homepage Journal
    I cannot count the number of times I have seen variations of this kind of idea here in the Comments section of Slashdot. It's funny how the same idea stated by MS is quite suddenly reprehensible...
  • by mykos (1627575) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @09:00PM (#31030062)

    I feel MORE secure when people are required to learn rules before they drive. I feel LESS secure when the government decides who can and can't communicate.

    I can understand a license to drive, but a license to communicate is stupid...no...it's scary.

  • by Spykk (823586) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @09:04PM (#31030100)
    Something tells me that if there was a license required for internet use the most common way to lose it would be involve bittorrent...
  • whom to regulate (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lord Ender (156273) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @09:09PM (#31030130) Homepage

    How about we regulate the banks to provide real two-factor authentication for any online financial transaction? How about we set a standard for smart-cards (hell, add the capability to dirvers' licenses) and require that PCs come with smart-card readers?

    If we just had these standards in place, they would pay for themselves extremely quickly.

  • by taustin (171655) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @09:10PM (#31030136) Homepage Journal

    Microsoft doesn't want you to have to have a license to use the internet. Microsoft wants you to have to pay them for a license to use the internet.

  • by sustik (90111) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @09:33PM (#31030268)

    I think it would be even better if we mandate a security licence for designing, implementing and deploying operating systems/web browsers/etc that access the network.

    For example, if you tried that for a couple of decades and could not get it right, then maybe your licence should be revoked and reinstated only after proving you code correct and only in a limited market first. (For example, desktops only, no laptops, no wireless etc.)

    I really hope this will get traction!

  • by Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) on Thursday February 04, 2010 @09:43PM (#31030326)

    There you go.

    Fuck you Criag Mundie. Fuck you in your tiny dick hole, you elitist, ruling class, piece of shit. Shall we require government licenses to use our toasters and our televisions so that we will never burn our toast, and will be capable of understanding that not all TV, including the news is real, or good for us?

    What the fuck Criag. Die in a fire.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by RichM (754883)

      Fuck you Criag Mundie. Fuck you in your tiny dick hole, you elitist, ruling class, piece of shit. Shall we require government licenses to use our toasters and our televisions so that we will never burn our toast, and will be capable of understanding that not all TV, including the news is real, or good for us?

      Welcome to the "United" Kingdom [tvlicensing.co.uk]. (airquotes intentional)

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