Intel to turn chip ID off as default

At the suggestion of privacy groups who are threatening a boycott of Intel products, Intel today announced that it will ship its Pentium III microprocessors with the identification code in the "off" position and offer software that will allow users to turn the code on if they want.

Shipping the processors with the ID code in the de-activated default position gives users the choice of whether they want their systems to be tracked, for instance in the case of computer theft, or for user verification in e-commerce.

Intel will provide a control utility, which is software, that will enable users to activate or de-activate the ID code, said Howard High, an Intel spokesman. Initially, the company said it would ship the processors with the code activated and users could de-activate it at will.

"We made the decision to change this morning" after meeting with Junkbusters and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) last week, High said. The decision to ship the code de-activated was made "so that if somebody wasn't technologically savvy they wouldn't have to have the code on automatically," he added.

Intel is scheduled to meet again with the privacy groups on Thursday, according to High.

The company announced plans last week to ship its Pentium III processors with ID code to heighten security on the Internet, prompting immediate criticism by privacy groups who then called today for a boycott of Intel products over the issue.

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