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You're right to be skeptical, but for the wrong reasons. As others have pointed out, it isn't 1984. Computers are too complicated for users to be trusted.

The real problem here IMHO is that just as the OS is horrendously complex and cannot be left to the user to configure properly, trusted hardware is also broken! For a very recent example, visit https://tpm.fail . The TPMs mentioned in that disclosure passed rigorous CC EAL4+ and FIPS 140-2 certifications. So, even the certifications fail to protect against the very flaws they are testing for. (I haven't studied the matter in detail to determine if the testing regime itself is weak, or if there's a Boeing/FAA level of corruption, or something in between.)

For another recent example, javacard has been proven weak in certain use cases.

The big problem with these hardware flaws is, you end up putting your absolute faith in them since they form the TCB. When the hardware is eventually (and almost certainly) found to contain a flaw, the entire rest of your security tends to fall apart, and generally you are unable to repair it without replacing the device entirely. This might be ok (you will eventually replace the hardware through normal obsolescence) or not (embedded [in your body] medical devices).

What I like about the HP proliant platform is the the TPM chip is an add-on card.

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