Microsoft’s new patent application gives us a taste of just what to expect from the software juggernaut in the coming months. If the new Microsoft device manners policy (DMP) patent application is any indication, we are in for a world of hurt. The patent application details a device which automatically shuts off your mobile device when you are in an area where someone determines they do not want you using your mobile device. The shutdown device works with phones, cameras, watches, video cameras and anything else provided with the DMP technology. Microsoft’s Mobile Device Manners Propagation and Compliance patent application foreshadows a world in which movie theaters automatically shut off your cell phone and concerts automatically disable your camera.
But why stop there? Microsoft’s new device can also be used to stop you from accessing online comparison shopping at the store, shut off your watch at the casino and eliminate "distractions" at the office. It can also be used to eliminate your ability to use your cell phone or recording equipment when stopped by the police. The mind reels at the potential uses.
While the technology obviously has many uses, I am just not aware of any that run in the consumer’s favor. The critical element is who decides what constitutes "socially undesirable audible or visual disturbance or unauthorized information or data capture." But we can trust Microsoft right? What could go wrong? Sure, there is the Zune digital rights management (DRM) fiasco, but what are the odds Microsoft would do something like that again to their customers? Especially so soon after such a biting sting?
While DRM, net neutrality and DMP all have ostensibly laudable goals, corporations cannot help but warp these goals toward lining their own pockets, much to the grave detriment of consumers. Even worse is the part legislators play in mandating the use of, and punishment for circumventing, such technologies. Unfortunately much of this technology and the Draconian laws relating thereto are implemented before the public even knows they exists.
Fortunately, this is no longer the case for you and DMP.