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Microsoft 'Echoes' Liberates Personal Contact Info to Networking Circles


No need to scream;
just plug in the data

Microsoft is preparing a platform that enables mobile carriers to provide Windows Live and other software to subscribers.

Code-named "Echoes" and headed by Microsoft's Israeli Strategic Development Center, the premises are simple: broaden the reach of Microsoft software, unite users, and maybe "get rid of phone numbers" — according to a speech Bill Gates recently made.

Echoes proposes to make phone numbers, or at least number-swapping, obsolete by "sharing" personal information from services like Live Messenger or online calendars.

For example, Echoes can sync all the data of a mobile user's Live Messenger contacts to his phone. He would thus be able to call someone he might know by name, but whose phone number he never personally gathered.

"We can get rid of phone numbers, have it so when you say you want to contact someone, based on who you are and where that person is, they can decide whether to take the call or take a message," Gates stated.

In theory, Echoes follows a trend that began in earnest with Web 2.0: consolidating data and making it accessible. But it may also give privacy advocates a new bone to pick. It doesn't merely avail user-created content to a broader body; it liberates personal contact information.

Career spammers like "Spam King" Sanford Wallace have been able to acquire such coveted data when the means were less direct. Cases in point include email phishing tactics, compromising MySpace accounts or enticing unwitting users to download spyware.

Specifications on Echoes are available at ZDNet.

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