Stories by Evan Schuman

Using clues to move paper coupons to mobile

Printed coupons and mobile devices are as far apart as Bitcoins and silver dollars. One company that's been specializing in bridging the gap sees the answer in not looking at any one element and instead layering.

The Bot That Cried Wolf: Battery tracking poses no real privacy threat

IT's relationship with privacy is delicate. Corporate IT needs to take privacy fears very seriously, but if IT jumps and shouts at every tiny possible privacy invasion, we'll have the Bot That Cried Wolf. Put another way, the best way to weaken privacy protections is to embrace so many privacy problems that none have any significance.

Privacy and the data toothpaste problem

Two prominent appellate courts have ruled in two unrelated privacy cases and dealt dual blows to privacy. A New York state appeals court said that Facebook had no right to resist coughing up extensive details about what its users are saying, while a federal appeals court said that anyone who unintentionally telephones someone -- a pocket-dial, sometimes known a bit more impolitely -- can't expect the listener to not listen and use the information.

Yahoo tries legal pirouettes in court, breaks neck

Yahoo, the once-mighty search-engine company, executed some remarkably graceless legal pirouettes as it tried to defend its invasive email scanning practices -- scanning of emails not sent by Yahoo Mail customers who had signed off on the terms of service, but the emails of people who had sent email to Yahoo users. All to no avail. Last week (May 26), a federal judge approved a class-action lawsuit against Yahoo. But a review of the arguments that Yahoo tried in court is rather entertaining.

Who's flying the plane? The latest reason to never ignore security holes

Some things are just so predictable. A retailer is told about a mobile security hole and dismisses it, saying it could never happen in real life -- and then it happens. A manufacturer of passenger jets ridicules the risk posed by a wireless security hole in its aircraft, saying defensive mechanisms wouldn't let it happen -- and then it happens.

Digital Dumpster diving: A trashcan that reports on what you throw away

Every now and then, a product comes along that is either genius-level brilliant or celestially clueless. To get the CC award, product designers must force themselves to not only ignore the bad ways the product could be used or to naively believe that minimal safeguards would prevent them. For your consideration: the GeniCan, which scans and otherwise figures out almost everything you are throwing away or recycling and wirelessly transmits that data back to the mother ship.

Target's under-stocked sale: Lessons not learned

In retail -- and especially in e-commerce -- there's a nuanced distinction between having a very popular sale and arranging for far too little merchandise. It's like those hold recordings that say the lengthy hold time is because of high customer call volume, prompting most people to mumble, "That and the fact that you're too cheap to hire enough call center operators."

Sony reminds us all what a pathetically weak link email is

Sony is reliving the nightmare that <a href="http://www.computerworld.com/article/2858358/fbi-calls-sony-hack-organized-but-declines-to-name-source-or-finger-north-korea.html">its hacked databases</a> gave rise to late last year, now that <a href="http://www.computerworld.com/article/2910891/wikileaks-publishes-searchable-database-of-hacked-sony-docs.html">Wikileaks has thoughtfully published all of the leaked documents in a searchable database</a>. Really, they are the most courteous hoodlums ever.

Let's rethink email

I've been using email longer than most people (more than a quarter of a century), so I think I have the credibility to say it's overdue for an overhaul.

Where's the data?

It's a time-honored tradition: U.S. businesses find ways to skirt inconvenient or expensive laws by moving operations to other countries. Thus we have had U.S. corporations operating overseas to exploit child labor, run sweatshops or avoid taxes and rigorous health and safety inspections. Now the U.S. government says something similar is happening in regards to email.

Some email truths for Hillary Clinton

This week, shortly after former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton became the poster child for enterprise BYOD issues, she held a news conference to explain and justify her convenience-oriented defense. During that briefing, she said that her private email server "was set up for President Clinton's office. And it had numerous safeguards. It was on property guarded by the Secret Service. And there were no security breaches."

Uber shows how not to do a privacy report

The Uber privacy report released last week (Jan. 30) is the perfect example of how <em>not</em> to handle a privacy PR disaster -- or any privacy policy matters at all.