Microsoft Plays the Privacy Fool

Who wouldn't want a personal cloaking device?

Riffing off the controversy over its Do Not Track browser, Microsoft came up with something new for the tinfoil hat club: The Do Not Tracksuit.

With his tongue firmly planted in his cheek, Microsoft's vp of corporate communications, Frank Shaw, described the suit in a blog post as a "wearable computing appliance" that "blocks the wearer from being tagged, checked in, scanned, filmed, recorded, hashtagged or poked, in the real and virtual world."

What makes the Microsoft April Fools' joke so good—and almost believable—is that it has the patina of plausibility. And there might even be a market for it, as many consumers worry about digital privacy.

Shaw's blog spins out a pretty thorough scenario by describing the fictional technology as a combination of NFC, RFID, Bluetooth 5.2 and infrared emitter technology. It's said to be so smart that the suit can detect attempted tracking behavior within one one-hundredth of a second and select the precise frequency needed to neutralize it. And it doesn't stop there; the wearer can fool the tracker and send back false info—changing location from a bar to a library, for example.

"I like to think of it as a personal cloaking device that helps maintain my Klout score," said a fictional tester.

Just in case anyone thought the suit might be for real, there's this last sentence: "The Do Not Tracksuit will be available at retail the first day of the second quarter 2014."