Have you thought about the possibility of people recording all their conversations?
VoIP is a real threat for telecom companies. Applications such as Skype are on the hype, and more people start to think that voice services should be free. However, there are some problems ahead for this technology:
Spit (voice spam). It could be very dangerous when used in conjunction with phising techniques.
Security. Although VoIP applications look quite safe there is still a weak point. At some point sound need to be delivered for us to communicate. And nobody can assure us that there won’t be some spyware applications recording our conversations and transmitting them to the bad guys (let’s think about some phone call to our bank).
But there is a more imminent and important possibility, with more serious consequences: compulsory thorough recording of all our conversations. Since more people are using applications such as Skype, managing their communications from their computers, it is pretty clear to me that many of them will start to record every conversation they make. Everything will be stored: date, hour, speakers, dialogue, etc. Conversations from our mobile phones will be stored too (you may already find cellular phones with hard drives up to 1.5GB).
So we should start to figure out what the consequences of such behaviour could be. The way we communicate could change dramatically. Will we start to use some “legal-warning-non-disclosure messages” to begin our conversations? Will we be forced to use “political correctness” at all times?
I guess that lawyers will seize the opportunity as soon as it start to happen: blackmail, harassment, discrimination, divorce lawsuits, prenuptial agreements, broken promises, mobbing, etc.
Same will happen with companies. Their lawyers will also try to impose these practices for the good of the company.
And last but not least related services and applications will arise:
Related applications: voice file managers, voice search engines...
Storage services, provided by broadband suppliers, VoIP developers or third parties.
Creative applications (we might find some killer applications here): conversations broadcasting…
Finally there are some strong ethical and legal objections, but I do think there is no way to prevent this from happening. Although laws may ban these practices, in the real world we have the means and will have to learn to live with this new custom.
I calculated the storage cost of recording every conversation in a year for a fixed and a mobile line in Spain.
My basic assumptions were:
1GB = 0.6 Euros
1GB = 8000 minutes of MP3 conversations.
I used some official data for Spanish telecom market and found that any family with say, one fixed line and four mobile ones, would have to pay less than 0.04 Euros a month.
So, cost won't prevent people from recording everything.