August 27, 2016

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Predictions for 2009

Here are our predictions for 2009. These are based on input from Andrew Appel, Joe Calandrino, Will Clarkson, Ari Feldman, Ed Felten, Alex Halderman, Joseph Lorenzo Hall, Tim Lee, Paul Ohm, David Robinson, Dan Wallach, Harlan Yu, and Bill Zeller. Please note that individual contributors (including me) don’t necessarily agree with all of these predictions.

(1) DRM technology will still fail to prevent widespread infringement. In a related development, pigs will still fail to fly.

(2) Patent reform legislation will come closer to passage in this Congress, but will ultimately fail as policymakers wait to determine the impact of the Bilski case’s apparent narrowing of business model patentability.

(3) As lawful downloading of music and movies continues to grow, consumer satisfaction with lossy formats will decline, and higher-priced options that offer higher fidelity will begin to predominate. At least one major online music service will begin to offer music in a lossless format.

(4) The RIAA’s “graduated response” initiative will sputter and die because ISPs are unwilling to cut off users based on unrebutted accusations. Lawsuits against individual end-user infringers will quietly continue.

(5) The DOJ will bring criminal actions against big-time individual copyright infringers based on data culled from the server logs of a large “private” BitTorrent community.

(6) Questions over the enforceability of free / open source software licenses will move closer to resolution.

(7) NebuAd and the regional ISPs recently sued for deploying NebuAd’s advertising system will settle with the class action plantiffs for an undisclosed sum. At least in part because of the lawsuit and settlement, no U.S. ISP will deploy a new NebuAd/Phorm-like system in 2009. Meanwhile, Phorm will continue to be successful with privacy regulators in the UK and will sign up reluctant ISPs there who are facing competitive pressure. Activists will raise strong objections to no avail.

(8) The federal Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will hear oral argument in the case of U.S. v. Lori Drew, the Megan Meier/MySpace prosecution. By year’s end, the Ninth Circuit panel still will not have issued a decision, although after oral argument, the pundits will predict a 3-0 or 2-1 reversal of the conviction.

(9) As a result of the jury’s guilty verdict in U.S. v. Lori Drew, dozens of plaintiffs will file civil lawsuits in 2009 alleging violations of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act premised on the theory that one can “exceed authorized access” or act “in excess of authorization” by violating Terms of Service. Thankfully, the Department of Justice won’t bring any other criminal cases premised on this theory, at least not until it sees how the Ninth Circuit rules.

(10) The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) will be the new DMCA. Many will argue that the law needs to be reformed, but this argument will struggle to gain traction with the lay public, notwithstanding the fact that lay users face potential liability for routine behaviors due to CFAA overbreadth.

(11) An academic security researcher will face prosecution under the CFAA, anti wire tapping laws, or other computer intrusion statutes for violations that occurred in the process of research.

(12) An affirmative action lawsuit will be filed against a university, challenging the use of a software algorithm used in evaluating applicants.

(13) There will be lots of talk about net neutrality but no new legislation, as everyone waits to see how the Comcast/BitTorrent issue plays out in the courts.

(14) The Obama administration will bring an atmosphere of antitrust enforcement to the IT industry, but no major cases will be brought in 2009.

(15) The new administration will be seen as trying to “reboot” the FCC.

(16) One of the major American voting system manufacturers (Diebold/Premier, Sequoia, ES&S, or Hart InterCivic) will go out of business or be absorbed into one of its rivals.

(17) The federal voting machine certification regime will increasingly be seen as a failure. States will strengthen their own certification processes, and at least one major state will stop requiring federal certification. The failure of the federal process to certify systems or software patches in a timely fashion will be cited as a reason for this move.

(18) Estonia and other countries will continue experimenting in real elections with online or mobile phone voting. They will claim that these trials are successful because “nothing went wrong.” Security analysts will continue to claim that these systems are fundamentally flawed and will continue to be ignored. Exactly the same thing will continue to happen with U.S. overseas and military voters.

(19) We’ll see the first clear-cut evidence of a malicious attack on a voting system fielded in a state or local election. This attack will exploit known flaws in a “toe in the water” test and vendors will say they fixed the flaw years ago and the new version is in the certification pipeline.

(20) U.S. federal government computers will suffer from at least one high-profile compromise by a foreign entity, leaking a substantial amount of classified or highly sensitive information abroad.

(21) There will be one or more major Internet outages attributed to attacks on DNS, BGP, or other Internet plumbing that is immediately labeled an act of “cyber-warfare” or “cyber-terrorism.” The actual cause will be found to be the action of spammers or other professional Internet miscreants.

(22) Present flaws in the web’s Certification Authority process, such as the MD5 issue or the leniency of some CAs in issuing certificates, will lead to regulation of the CA process. Among other things, there will be calls for restrictions on which CAs can issue certs for which Top Level Domains.

(23) One or more major Internet services or top-tier network providers will experience prolonged failures and/or unrecoverable data severe enough that the company’s president ends up testifying before Congress about it.

(24) Shortly after the start of the new administration, the TSA will quietly phase out the ban on flying with liquids or stop enforcing it in practice. The color-coded national caution levels (which have remained at “orange” forever) will be phased out.

(25) All 20 of the top 20 U.S. newspapers by circulation will experience net reductions in their newsroom headcounts in 2009. At least 15 of the 20 will see weekday circulation decline by 15% or more over the course of the year. By the end of the year, at least one major U.S. city will lack a daily newspaper.

(26) Advertising spending in older media will plummet, but online ad spending will be roughly level, as advertisers warm to online ads whose performance is more easily measured. Traditional media will be forced to offer advertisers fire sale prices, and the ratio of content to advertising in many traditional media outlets will increase.

(27) An embarrassing leak of personal data will emerge from one or more of the social networking firms (e.g., Facebook), leading Congress to consider legislation that probably won’t solve the problem and will never actually reach the floor for a vote.

(28) Facebook will be sold for $4 billion and Mark Zuckerberg will step down as CEO.

(29) Web 2.0 startups will not be hammered by the economic downtown. In fact, web 2.0 innovation may prove to be countercyclical. Costs are controllable: today’s workstyles don’t require lavish office space, marketing can be viral, and pay-as-you-go computing services eliminate the need for big upfront investments in infrastructure. Laid off big-company workers and refugees from the financial world will keep skilled wages low. The surge in innovation will be real, but its effects will mostly be felt in future years.

(30) The Blu-ray format will increasingly be seen as a failure as customers rely more on online streaming.

(31) Emboldened by Viacom’s example against Time Warner, TV network owners will increasingly demand higher payments from cable companies with the threat of moving content online instead. Cable companies will attempt to more heavily limit the content that network owners can host on Hulu and other sites.

(32) The present proliferation of incompatible set-top boxes that aim to connect your TV to the Internet will lead to the establishment of a huge industry consortium with players from three major interest groups (box builders, content providers, software providers), reminiscent of the now-defunct SDMI consortium, and with many of the same members. In 2009, they will generate a variety of press releases but will accomplish nothing.

(33) A hot Christmas item will be a cheap set-top box that allows normal people to download, organize, and view video and audio podcasts in their own living rooms. This product will work with all of the major free online sources of audio and video, and a few of the paid sources.

(34) Internet Explorer’s usage share will fall below 50 percent for the first time in a decade, spurred by continued growth of Firefox and Safari and deals with OEMs to pre-load Google Chrome.

(35) Somebody besides Apple will sell an iPod clone that’s a drop-in replacement for a real iPod, complete with support for iTunes DRM, video playback, and so forth. Apple will sue (or threaten to sue), but won’t be able to stop distribution of this product.

(36) Apple will release a netbook, which will be a souped-up iPhone with an 8″ screen and folding keyboard. It will sell for $899.

(37) No white space devices will be approved for use by the FCC. Submitted spectrum sensing devices will fare well in both laboratory and field tests, but approval will be delayed politically by the anti-white space lobby.

(38) More and more Internet traffic will encrypted, as concern grows about eavesdropping, content modification, filtering, and security attacks.

Feel free to offer your own predictions in the comments.

Comments

  1. You have two #36s.

  2. avatar Anonymous says:

    The first part of #24 is cheating a bit: The TSA has already announced that will lift the liquid ban by fall 2009, only requiring liquids to be placed in a separate bin for checking, and abandon all restrictions by 2010: http://www.tsa.gov/blog/2008/10/path-forward-on-liquids.html

    They cite the deployment of better detection technology as reason for lifting the ban.

  3. I’m skeptical about #7; there’s no practical way to settle with a class that has tens of thousands of people in it for an “undisclosed sum.” Even if you try to keep it quiet — which I doubt a court would allow — someone in the class will blab.

  4. avatar Mitch Golden says:

    Re #17: I am wondering what constitutes a “major” state? Let’s assume California counts, and that Rhode Island doesn’t. But is Connecticut, for example, major? New Jersey? Does Wyoming get to be major based on its large land area?

  5. Good list and a great read. Thanks for sharing.

    My 2 cents–

    #28 (Facebook sale) seems weirdly specific. Why $4B and not 3 or 5? Or a half? And, more interestingly, who would buy and why?

    #30 BooRay will fail for many reasons, not just because of increased streaming. Price (as in the discs themselves and the cost to re-buy currently-owned DVDs), confusion about player abilities (profile 1.0 vs 2.0 vs who knows), the current economic turmoil (blu as luxury), inability to play BooRay everywhere (think DVD players in minivans or the upstairs bedroom, or portable players, etc).

    #34 (IE share) Bwaaaaaaaaaaaaa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Didja get this one from The Onion?

    If #35 (iPod drop-in) were ever going to happen, wouldn’t it have been made already? Is there something special about 2009 that makes this more likely than in the past?

    #36 (iPhone tablet) won’t happen in ’09. Penetration of the existing iPhone has a long way to go before Apple needs to expand.

    Finally, can somebody elaborate on #31 (Viacom/Time Warner) for me? I guess I don’t understand the symbiotic/parasitic relationships at play… How could a cable company limit what appears on Hulu?

  6. I disagree with #31. Viacom has always been a bully. This year’s scuffle with Time Warner is just exactly like the one they had with Dish Network a few years ago, minus the pointers to on-line content.

    I wrote an article that takes the topic a tad further: Is cable TV still relevant?.

  7. avatar Fact-checker says:

    (6) Questions over the enforceability of free / open source software licenses will move closer to resolution.

    What questions?

    • Presumably that no court has come out and said ‘the GPL is (un)enforceable’, and (to a lesser extent) whether or not injunction is available as an enforcement tool. But like I said below we’re unlikely to see much movement on this front.

  8. (6) is really quite unlikely to happen this year. At this point, clarification about open source licensing can happen only if there are additional court cases, and that seems very unlikely. There will be more court filings via FSF and SFLC, but so far those have all settled out of court and there is no reason to think that will change- if anything, post-Jacobsen companies will be more eager to settle out of court, not less.

    Otherwise an interesting list.

    • avatar Matt Norwood says:

      Like Luis said: I can’t imagine circumstances in which a GPL violation would make it all the way through litigation to a judgment in 2009. There’s little enough copyright litigation of any kind in the US, much less FOSS license related copyright litigation, for this to be a realistic prediction for the next year. And that’s largely because the issues tend to be relatively black and white, except in the few grey areas (like vicarious liability) where litigation still happens. After Jacobsen, I can’t imagine a company who 1) has enough money for a team of litigators, and who 2) is stupid enough to try to argue that FOSS licenses are unenforceable.

  9. #26: ” the ratio of content to advertising in many traditional media outlets will increase.”

    I assume that’s intended to be inverted

    • I think it is written as meant, on the theory that as demand for traditional advertising declines, publishers will restrict supply in order to apply upward pressure to prices — being one among fewer ads in a magazine is more valuable, the theory would go, to an advertiser.

      • Not much value delivering advertising to a zero audience.

        • Ah, but if there’s more content and fewer ads, then it becomes more attractive to consumers, so the audience might go up (or at least fail to go down). At least so the theory goes.

  10. avatar Carlie Coats says:

    Given just how much damage the Sony root-kits did (together with Kaminsky’s research indicating just how many computers were affected, even on .gov and .mil networks), I don’t see why Sony should not have been prosecuted — and hounded by private (class-action?) suits over that matter. Although I am not directly affected (I don’t listen to music on computers), on general principles I as a prospective juror and “heavy-duty computer user” would have been quite willing to put Sony execs away for millions of consecutive 5-year sentences.

    The same is true for installers of other installed-without-authorization/hard-to-remove software.

    FWIW.

  11. My take on (18) is a bit different.

    (18) Estonia and other countries will continue experimenting in real elections with online or mobile phone voting. They will claim that these trials are successful because “nothing went wrong.” Security analysts will continue to claim that these systems are fundamentally flawed and will continue to be ignored. More than one of the new election systems will achieve lower error rates than US elections, but no one will be able to prove this (since we have no accurate measure of subverted elections).

    … which makes for an untestable prediction.

    • … and Justice must be seen to be done. Part of the purpose of a Democratic system is to deliver the will of the majority of people, but the other part is to convince all of the people that the system does give a plausible result. If sufficient people believe the system is broken, they WILL turn to other (probably more violent) methods to get their message across.

      Estonia has a resource for Democracy that many other countries lack — genuinely interested citizens who still remember central planning and what it means to be governed by an occupying force. The test of the Democratic system is how these people choose their methods of participation.

  12. Most look like they are very likely to happen. I’ll add one more to the antitrust thing, though:
    Concern by the community regarding absorption of major community projects into large-scale corporations will boil over, leading to accusations and counter-accusations of license violations and predatory practices by both sides. At least one major community project will become closed. Both sides will wait until there’s clear precedent in the courts on Open Source issues – including but not limited to licensing. Relations between the corporate sector and the Free/Open Source community will hit an all-time low.

  13. avatar Michael Donnelly says:

    My four random comments:

    RIAA: I think this is a correct call. They need another year to thrash, at least.
    Blu-Ray: Nope, I think it’s going to grow. Which is a shame, because it’s easy to hate.
    IE sub 50%: Whaaa?
    iPod-compatible: Whaaa?^2

  14. I think long lists are a big no no for blogs. Same goes for having too many authors. Your predictions were much more coherent in previous years.

    • I think that blog posts that amount a more than a few paragraphs of nonsensical buzzwords are the way to go. You know, once people read books. If people can read books, surely they can read a list of 38 items.

  15. avatar Richard Jones says:

    Maybe they will, but I’m doubtful we’ll find out about it!

  16. avatar Robert O'Callahan says:

    We’d love to see it drop below 50%, but it won’t happen this year. OEM pre-installation is not that big a deal unless the new browser is made the default browser, but that’s unlikely to happen. Nothing else could create the tidal wave that would make IE lose 18 points in a year.

    But IE below 50% could be a reasonable prediction for 2010.

  17. avatar Anonymous says:

    Disagree with #10. Only prosecutors can use CFAA. Companies can’t bring action against people/companies under CFAA, but they can under DMCA.

    • You are mistaken. Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. ยง 1030(g) (emphasis added):

      Any person who suffers damage or loss by reason of a violation of this section may maintain a civil action against the violator to obtain compensatory damages and injunctive relief or other equitable relief.

  18. avatar Anonymous says:

    “An affirmative action lawsuit will be filed against a university, challenging the use of a software algorithm used in evaluating applicants.”

    On what basis?

  19. avatar Anonymous says:

    Imitating iTunes DRM? What’s the point now that the music is supposedly all going to be drm free? Are you referring to video content?

    Also, a drop-in seems unlikely as I don’t see it working with iTunes if Apple tries to prevent it. I imagine it’s much harder to trick iTunes into thinking it’s really talking to an iPod than to write a program that imitates iTunes and talks to a real iPod. And without iTunes and drm integration, there’s really no point.

  20. RFID tags will be implanted in some set of humans without their consent.

  21. avatar Anonymous says:

    No. 37 is interesting

    Am I right in assuming that were whitespace devices to be distributed as per the clear reading of the FCC decision it effectively ends the cell phone industry. I know it sounds crazy but I can’t see how it survives under a clear interpretation of this decision. I don’t know why this hasn’t been a bigger topic.

    • avatar Anonymous says:

      Cell providers currently offer plans with unlimited calling. While it may no longer be possible for a carrier to charge more for such a plan than it would charge for unlimited VOIP-capable Internet access unless it offers better quality of service than would be possible with VOIP, I don’t see why that would end the cell phone industry. There are a lot of people who would want to spend less per month on phone service than it would cost to get unlimited Internet access, and there are others who would want a higher quality of service than VOIP would likely provide.

  22. avatar Anonymous says:

    No. 37 is interesting

    Am I right in assuming that were whitespace devices to be distributed as per the clear reading of the FCC decision it effectively ends the cell phone industry. I know it sounds crazy but I can’t see how it survives under a clear interpretation of this decision. I don’t know why this hasn’t been a bigger topic.

  23. avatar Anonymous says:

    (38) More and more Internet traffic will encrypted, as concern grows about eavesdropping, content modification, filtering, and security attacks.

    So, when will this blog be available over https?

  24. Sharing my tech predictions and ideas for 2009 and beyond
    http://beerpla.net/2009/01/10/artems-top-10-tech-predictions-and-ideas-for-2009-and-beyond/.

  25. avatar Anonymous says:

    TINKERETTES;

    It would have been fun to ask your bloggers their thoughts on this so you would have a additional input. Here’s my thoughts and issues of interest;

    #7 How can this be? I agree with james’ comment:
    An undisclosed class action settlement?
    Comment by James Grimmelmann on January 7th, 2009 at 11:11 am.
    I’m skeptical about #7; there’s no practical way to settle with a class that has tens of thousands of people in it for an “undisclosed sum.” Even if you try to keep it quiet — which I doubt a court would allow — someone in the class will blab.

    (7) NebuAd and the regional ISPs recently sued for deploying NebuAd’s advertising system will settle with the class action plantiffs for an undisclosed sum. At least in part because of the lawsuit and settlement, no U.S. ISP will deploy a new NebuAd/Phorm-like system in 2009. Meanwhile, Phorm will continue to be successful with privacy regulators in the UK and will sign up reluctant ISPs there who are facing competitive pressure. Activists will raise strong objections to no avail.

    MISSING: I predict that shortly, VERY SHORTLY, other entities that used dpi to wiretap isp users will be sued. Take it to the bank!

    Missing: the names of all entities that should be sued!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    #10 SHH SHH SHH,……..there needs to be a “research paper” on this issue

    (10) The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) will be the new DMCA. Many will argue that the law needs to be reformed, but this argument will struggle to gain traction with the lay public, notwithstanding the fact that lay users face potential liability for routine behaviors due to CFAA overbreadth.

    #11 Can you expand on this prediction plz.. Is #10 and #11 the same!!!!
    can a user provide consent to, and request assistance of, a from a academic security researcher to investigate areas of concern ?

    (11) An academic security researcher will face prosecution under the CFAA, anti wire tapping laws, or other computer intrusion statutes for violations that occurred in the process of research.

    In closing though, there are some very interesting issues here that you need to continue discussing.

    thanks,
    Pii withheld

  26. avatar Bob Dowling says:

    I predict that the major ISPs (with deep pockets for the **AA to sue) will change their T&Cs to let them disconnect people on accusation. In 2010 or 2011 the pressure will be appllied on them to not peer with other ISPs (especially the smaller ones) that don’t have such a policy.

  27. (9) Legislate widely, enforce selectively. I predict that a lot of websites will start installing weird and wonderful “Terms of Service” that you agree to whenever you visit the site. At least one of these whackos will attempt to use the Drew case as precedent.

    (14) Can you bring an “atmosphere of enforcement” without real cases? Perhaps a bit like the atmosphere of regulation in the banking industry? You either enforce or you don’t, they won’t.

    (20) What makes you think you will hear about it this time, any more than you heard about it all the other times? I predict the sounds of silence on this one.

    (22) Certs are a browser issue. Although ignorant people will reliably call for regulation on arbitrary issues, I can just edit Firefox and add any authority I like (which everyone does by just accepting the self-signed certificates). This prediction is just silly. Besides, no one cares.

    (24) Somehow I doubt that common sense will prevail. People seem to enjoy their security theater.

    (28) Not quite the right environment to make a big sale into, Facebook will wait at least one more year.

    (29) Agree on this one. As with all startups, the great majority will sink without trace, but enough of them will go places to keep the industry growing. Probably fair to point out that the web already went past 2.0 some time ago, but I don’t want to discriminate against counting challenged readers.

    (30) Blu-ray has already clobbered HD-DVD and doesn’t directly compete with streaming. Blu-ray will keep growing. Ordinary DVD isn’t about to vanish either, CDs will also remain popular.

    (36) Apple have a pathological requirement to be different, they CAN’T release a netbook anymore because everyone else already has done. Apple will claim that the eMate already was their netbook and now that they have been there they, are onto better things. I predict that Apple will have a go at the console gaming market, building something a bit like a wii, where you use your iPod as a wireless game controller and play on a big screen against multiple people. Quite likely the iPod headset and sound will also be involved somehow. It will be released with only one game available and Apple fans will obstruct morning peak hour traffic across three continents.

  28. avatar Anonymous says:
  29. Iirc, Detroit is already without a major daily newspaper. And if not, it soon will be.

  30. lossy formats will decline, and higher-priced options that offer higher fidelity will begin to predominate. At least one major online music service will begin to offer music in a lossless format.

    I would go further, predicting that a music service will offer music in “better-than-cd-quality” format, similar to SACD or DVD-audio but without the physical medium. The reason for this will not only be to raise consumer interest and sales, but to reduce piracy — larger file sizes leads to less piracy.