OnStar will soon include the ability for the police to shut off your engine remotely. Buses are getting the same capability, in case terrorists want to re-enact the movie Speed. The Pentagon wants a kill switch installed on airplanes, and is worried about potential enemies installing kill switches on their own equipment.
Microsoft is doing some of the most creative thinking along these lines, with something it’s calling “Digital Manners Policies.” According to its patent application, DMP-enabled devices would accept broadcast “orders” limiting capabilities. Cellphones could be remotely set to vibrate mode in restaurants and concert halls, and be turned off on airplanes and in hospitals. Cameras could be prohibited from taking pictures in locker rooms and museums, and recording equipment could be disabled in theaters. Professors finally could prevent students from texting one another during class.
Somehow I knew Microsoft would be involved in this. Read on for Bruce’s impressive rant against devices controlling devices. I’m in 100% agreement with him on this issue.
Libraries might like the idea of being able to silence cellphones entering the building, but there are just too many ways that something like this can be abused. At least give me the ability to reject these “orders” being sent to my gadgets. You hear me, Microsoft?