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OK (sources on that being the case?), but the issue then remains that we have no way of knowing whether it is activated or could be activated, is that correct?

Sure, here's some documentation on how to enable remote management in the Intel Management Engine, if it's supported:

[1] http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/vpro-amt-management-kvm,... [2] http://www.howtogeek.com/56538/how-to-remotely-control-your-... [3] https://communities.intel.com/thread/21261

The lack of independent audit of this chip and firmware is legitimate concern. But as you can see, if you obtain a fresh computer with access to the BIOS/UEFI, you have control over whether this functionality is enabled. If you don't have access to your BIOS/UEFI then you're correct that you won't know if it's on.

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