MindBullets 20 Years


Information security and privacy come centre stage

In a major move Microsoft has announced the availability of the beta version of its much-touted new operating system – but with an unexpected competitive twist. Windows ViewMe will have unique features that no other software platform can match.

It will allow users to take personal control over all their private data – financial, medical, institutional – and give designated users, such as your bank, your physician or service providers view-only access to selected sections of your personal information and digital identity.

This is sure to create a new boom in trusted information management enterprises; Deloitte have already positioned their brand as such with their DNAture repository for DNA profiles. Microsoft’s new operating system will legitimize their business and catapult growth. Doctors and hospitals are delighted – it will absolve them from current law suits against abuse of personal data stored on their computer and smartphone systems.

Banks and retailers hate it and are mooted to be canvassing for legal changes. Direct email companies will also be hard hit as all marketing becomes ‘by invitation only’ and companies will know very little about their consumers’ private lives.

Windows ViewMe will also put much more pressure on individuals to take ownership of their private information.

ANALYSIS >> SYNTHESIS: How this scenario came to be

Who do you trust?
Would you trust this man with your personal and identification data? With your life? With your money?
Surely you trust yourself the most. Which is why Microsoft has made it possible to take personal responsibility for the protection of your own information and identity. Windows ViewMe will secure your information, including DNA data, with state-of-the-art encryption licensed from the US Treasury. Not only that, the operating system allows you to release selected parts of your information to designated users for specific purposes and time frames. ViewMe validates the authorized user with their own secured identity before making your details usable – thus any attempt to compromise your information will instantly reveal the fraudsters.
Based on digital rights management technologies, but applied to individual identities, Windows ViewMe runs on personal computers and smartphones, and integrates with eDollar cryptography, making the system ‘bullet proof’ and acceptable to global financial service providers.
It seems we are learning to trust technology more than people.

2005: Wireless networks expose personal information>
WiFi sniffing, identity theft, internet scams – where will it all end? Microsoft declares war on spam. Sony BMG is sued for putting spyware on their music CDs. Microsoft updates its anti-spyware program to detect and delete the Sony BMG spyware.
A survey of WiFi networks in London, Frankfurt, New York and San Francisco by RSA Security found more than a third had basic security features turned off.
The ITU report ‘Internet of Things’ cautions that the needs and wishes of human beings must be kept central to all these endeavours and the public must be educated about their implications. “Things like privacy protection should become part of the design itself of the technology, even before it makes it to market.”
To this end, governments, the private sector and other agencies must act from the outset to safeguard principles of informed consent, data confidentiality and security, according to the report. “Society will have to deal with some very substantial issues,” said Jonathan Murray, Chief Technology Officer for Microsoft Europe.

2006: Google takes San Francisco wireless>
Broadband trends towards zero cost. Connection becomes ubiquitous. “Skype’s success at spreading the world about internet telephony is well-known and we are delighted to be offering free access to Skype users in our hotspots,” commented Broadreach chief executive Magnus McEwen-King.
A growing number of cities in the US are treating high-speed internet as a basic amenity for citizens, like running water or the electricity grid. Where traditional wired broadband networks required massive investment, new technology means wireless networks provide similar levels of service at a fraction of the cost.

2007: Windows wins on smartphones>
Microsoft’s new mobile operating system starts to dominate. Smartphones replace laptops for many mobile professionals. With increased power and storage capacities, and hi-speed data connections, the modern smartphone provides 99% of the functions of a 2004 laptop, with one advantage – it’s always connected to the network. Microsoft’s operating system still provides the best integration to corporate servers and data, and becomes the de-facto standard for high-powered mobile devices.

2008: BBC News has as many reporters as readers>
It’s a free-for-all as traditional news media embrace the new technology. Action photos and video arrive on your phone screen in real time, and blogs have become the new global village square.
“User-driven media today is similar to where user-driven retail was before eBay. With thousands of disconnected, individual shops, it was hard to find the stuff you wanted; if you found it, you didn’t know if you could trust it; and if you decided you could trust it, you couldn’t comparison shop,” said Gather.com’s founder and CEO Tom Gerace. “The blogosphere suffers from these same challenges. What eBay did for user-driven retail, Gather.com does for content.”

2009: US Treasury launches the eDollar>
Micropayments become cheap and secure. Identity issues are partly resolved – but only for financial transactions. Privacy is still a huge concern, as anonymity is slowly disappearing.
Laws governing the use of sensitive personal information are making it more important for retailers to be able to demonstrate due diligence when it comes to information security practices. An inability to do so could expose companies to serious damage to their reputations, financial losses and customer churn.
“The brand can suffer real consequences” from a security breach, said Brian Kilcourse, chief strategist at the Retail Systems Alert Group. “In the eyes of the customer, if their data is compromised, the retailer is legally and ethically bound to report that breach.”

2010: Trust and identities blur in the wireless world>
Who is that calling? Can I trust you, and your information? With WiMAX, Super 3G and Bluetooth, wireless connection is not even an issue, but you never know quite who you are dealing with on the metronet.
Consumers need to be wary and trust their instincts, especially when contemplating a purchase from an unfamiliar company. The Federal Trade Commission still urges consumers to check out a merchant’s policies and find out about extra costs such as shipping before going through with a transaction. News stories, relationships, even community events such as traffic are subject to issues of trust.

2011: Microsoft solves the privacy problem>
Windows ViewMe promises security and privacy – as well as enabling trust. Now you can be sure that no-one can use your information or identity without your permission. You are back in control of your private life, and can choose to be as open or anonymous as you choose. Of course, if you remain anonymous, no-one will trust you! It’s a two-way street…

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

Despite appearances to the contrary, Futureworld cannot and does not predict the future. Our Mindbullets scenarios are fictitious and designed purely to explore possible futures, challenge and stimulate strategic thinking. Use these at your own risk. Any reference to actual people, entities or events is entirely allegorical. Copyright Futureworld International Limited. Reproduction or distribution permitted only with recognition of Copyright and the inclusion of this disclaimer.