Bruce Schneier has a new Security Matters article up on Wired. He talks about the growing trend of “kill switches” on various electronic devices.
Definitely not a good idea, but I think at least in the consumer markets, economic forces will keep such products from getting too out of control. For instance, I am still in the casual market for a new portable digital music player, and I won’t be getting an iPod. Basically I don’t trust Apple in conjunction with iTunes and my digital media (not all of which is legal). I want to manage my device out of band, and really never have to worry about DRM or the firmware suddenly making decisions for me.
Bruce is correct in worrying about the chains of authority when you start giving one device power over another. The wider the more dangerous. Maybe Windows should have a killswitch that is remotely accessible? We can bring back teardrop/Ping of Death!