The musings of Linux advocate Alan Cox have been widely reported this week, thanks to an interview with book publisher, O' Reilly.

It doesn’t quite live up to the promise of its title, The Next 50 Years of Computer Security - you’d be doing well to poke a stick at the next five years, never mind outline half a century. But he does manage to touch on one red-button issue that goes back a way. When does a security system stop merely securing and turn into a system of outright control?

“The same cryptographic technology that will let Apple lock their OS to apple branded x86 computers is there for me to keep personal data secure if a future laptop is stolen,” he muses, referring to trusted computing chips that will become commonplace in the next generation of PCs.

These have the benefit of securing access to data on the PC, but they also keep a measure of control over how the technology is used in the hands of the companies installing it.

If the PC – or any network device – becomes a castle then these encrypted chips are potentially the gateways that decide what crosses the moat and on what terms.

Apple has found to its cost that this issue isn’t lost on the Alan Cox’s of the world, and it won’t be the last company to fend off the bad press either. And all this before they’ve even become mainstream. It’s going to be an interesting five years.