When Life is Copy Protected…

Microsoft has filed a very scary patent.  The original purpose seems benign, according to Unwired View:

In addition to many benefits brought to us by mobile phones, there have been a few drawbacks as well. Especially, related to ethics/culture/social issues of the mobile phone use.

Don’t you just hate it, when during an engaging presentation, show or movie, a mobile phone of some as#$%^&&, sorry, forgetful person, begins to ring? What about someone taking out his high end cameraphone and doing something with it in the locker room? Can you be sure he’s not taking your nude pictures in the shower? What about someone secretly recording confidential conversation on his mobile phone?

Microsoft seems to have an idea how to solve all these problems at once. By creating device manners policy DMP [sic]), to which all mobile devices will have to comply to. And they even want to patent it

[From the Microsoft patent:]

Such policy may be used to communicate to various mobile and other devices the “manners” with which compliance is expected or required. Similar to some of the social manners honored among people, such as with “no smoking” or “employees only” zones, “no swimming” or “no flash photography” areas, and scenarios for “please wash your hands” or “no talking out loud”, devices may recognize and comply with analogous “device manners” policy.

This won’t stop there.  I can anticipate lots of potential "no photography" zones:

  • Schools:  "Behind Every Camera is a Pedo!"
  • Government buildings:  I guess I can’t film public hearings anymore like I used to.
  • Public places:  Remember, papparazzi!
  • Workplaces:  Maybe you’ll be allowed to take pictures of the office party…if you’re good with the boss!  You’re a whistleblower?  Siberia might be safer.
  • Anywhere where someone in power is scared of their own people.

That last is the scariest place of them all, for it is everywhere in America.  Everywhere in our country, people take pictures of things the powers-that-be would rather not have seen.

Youtube has video on atrocities in Myanmar.  Perhaps in a few years there’ll be smuggled videos and photos from America.

I live in the “tourist town” of Salem.  What if the Peabody Essex Museum wanted exclusive photo rights for the whole city? 

Original:  Microsoft wants to teach manners to you mobile device » Unwired View

Update:  Boing Boing Gadgets posted about this.  DCulbertson writes in the comments:

Suppose it was implemented. I wonder how many public places would eventually have the "no pictures" flag set? Meaning even if it’s legal to take photos, you couldn’t… Then how many police cars and federal agents would have DMP boxes with "no photos / no video / no audio recording" flags set. No more individuals documenting arrests or police action.

Someone, somewhere in the Department of Homeland Security, is smiling.

Update:  Bruce Schneier as usual has an excellent take.  Also see his column in Wired, “I’ve Seen the Future and it has a Kill Switch”.


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