It’s been quite the week for data privacy, one that started with the landmark European legal decision to ditch the trans-Atlantic data-sharing pact and ended with the enactment of a tough new law in California.
The latter regulation, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, actually favors both consumers and businesses. The law makes it impossible for law enforcement officials to get at emails, texts, or documents stored in the cloud without a search warrant. It also requires a warrant for the practice of tracking someone by using the location data on their smartphone or mobile device.
“For what logical reason should a handwritten letter stored in a desk drawer enjoy more protection from warrantless government surveillance than an email sent to a colleague or a text message to a loved one?” noted one of the bill’s authors, state senator Mark Leno, earlier this year.
Both developments this week stem in part from paranoia over the government’s unauthorized surveillance of digital communications. Credit Edward Snowden for that. There’s also an underlying concern, especially among European privacy advocates, that U.S. tech companies still don’t take privacy rights seriously enough. You can thank a 28-year-old law student for making this an issue. Yes, everyone has privacy policies but most are confusing agreements steeped with legalese. Trust comes through transparency not obfuscation.
“Data protection is a right to determine how—rather than whether—one participates in sharing information,” notes Oxford Internet Institute professor Viktor Mayer-Schonberger, in a comprehensive New York Times article this morning about the Safe Harbor ruling.
I’ll leave you with an interesting prediction issued this week by tech market research firm Gartner: by 2018, more than half of business ethics violations will be related to the way companies use their data for business analytics. Considering that data scientist is one of the fastest-growing professions in the United States, it isn’t just Apple or Facebook or Google that should be worrying about the implications.
TOP OF MIND
You can never accuse the ride-sharing economy of being boring. Lyft is offering drivers Shell gasoline discounts and special Hertz rental rates, through new partnerships. But those deals were overshadowed Thursday by ongoing accusations of corporate espionage by its biggest rival. Uber suffered a data breach last year, and it believes a Lyft executive was among those responsible. On the regulatory front, Uber rejected a proposal by the mayor of Brazilian city Sao Paolo that would have regulated its fleet to a special new taxi category.
Rumored Dell-EMC deal would choke debt markets. Reports suggests Dell would need to issue $40 billion in debt to pull off the $52 billion buyout. The problem: ongoing financial market turmoil has brought the high-yield bond market to a "screeching halt." (Fortune)
BlackBerry may give up on smartphones entirely, if it can't turn a profit within the next year. Meanwhile, the Canadian company is prioritizing revenue related to its rich portfolio of mobile security and device management software. Its licensing revenue grew 33% in its latest quarter. (Ars Technica)
Soon you can buy your Starbucks latte using Apple Pay. The mobile payment service continues finding retail customers, despite various reports suggesting adoption is slower than anticipated. All 1,400 Best Buy stores went live this week. (Wall Street Journal)
Personal computer sales slipped again, so why aren't industry execs fretting? Shipments fell 11 percent in the last quarter, which marks the 14th consecutive decline. Still, optimists believe Microsoft is helping make the category look sexy again, especially after this week's Surface Book hybrid notebook introduction. (NYTimes)
Jawbone: Here, swallow this. The consumer gadgets company is working on an ingestible fitness tracker, which could make its technology more relevant for broader healthcare applications. (Fortune)
Activist investor wants Polycom and Mitel merger. Elliott Management, the same hedge fund stirring things up at EMC, now owns more than 6% of both telecommunications equipment companies. It thinks the two should combine forces. The disclosure sent share of both soaring Thursday. (NYTimes)
What you should look for in Square's expected IPO filing
Payment technology company Square is expected to reveal more intimate details about its buzzy business in the coming weeks when it files for an initial public offering. Potential investors will be paying close attention, especially given Square founder and CEO Jack Dorsey's decision early this week to stick permanently with his other high-level day job at Twitter. Fortune's Leena Rao outlines five things you should study closely.
BITS AND BYTES
Watch out, Intel. Rival Qualcomm has adapted its mobile chips for data center applications. (Fortune)
Alibaba cloud team adds second Silicon Valley data center. It's the ninth one globally. (Computerworld)
Blame rogue software engineers. Volkswagen's U.S. CEO tells Congress that executives knew nothing about technology installed to defeat emissions tests. (Verge)
Americans are highly social people. More than two-thirds use Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest or Twitter. Plus, adoption by among older adults has tripled since 2010. (Pew Research Center)
MakerBot makes more cuts. The 3D printer company reduced its workforce by another 20%, reflecting sluggish corporate adoption. (Fortune)
Proof that IBM isn't entirely a cloud company. It is hawking a new portfolio of servers configured to handle big data workloads. (Computerworld)
Long-time Microsoft executive resigns for unspecified reasons. "Soma" Somasegar, a 27-year veteran, led the software giant's developer tools division. He also headed cloud development in China, India, and Israel. (ZDNet)
MY FORTUNE BOOKMARKS
Can AWS break the lock-in mold set by legacy tech vendors by Barb Darrow
These technologies will change the way you dine out by Larissa Zimberoff
See how much bandwidth Netflix consumes in one chart by Claire Groden
Google's Chromecast lineup: a hit and a miss by Jason Cipriani
ONE MORE THING
Yes, Seattle is tech-friendly. But it is taking pains to avoid San Francisco's growth challenges. (NYTimes)
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
I Love APIs: Apigee's annual conference. (Oct. 12 - 14; San Jose, California)
Crowdflower Rich Data Summit: Make data meaningful. (Oct. 14; San Francisco)
Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing: World's largest gathering of women technologists. (Oct. 14 - 16; Houston)
DevOps Enterprise Summit: Lean principles meet technology management. (Oct. 19 - 21; San Francisco)
Tableau Conference 2015: Tableau’s annual customer conference. (Oct 19 -23; Las Vegas)
Dell World: Global conference for customers and partners. (Oct. 20 - 22; Austin, Texas)
Virtuous Circle Conference: Internet policy in the round (Oct. 12-13, Menlo Park, California)
CX San Francisco: Forrester's forum for customer experience professionals. (Oct. 22 - 23)
Oracle OpenWorld: Customer and partner conference. (Oct. 25 - 29; San Francisco)
TBM Conference: Manage IT like a business. (Oct. 26 - 29; Chicago)
eBusiness Chicago: eBusiness and channel strategy. (Oct. 29 - 30)
QuickBooks Connect: SMBs, entrepreneurs, accountants and developers. (Nov. 2 - 4; San Jose, California)
SIMposium: CIOs, CTOs, and IT executives. (Nov. 1 - 3; Charlotte, North Carolina)
CMO+CIO: Forrester's summit on strategy collaboration. (Nov. 2 - 4; Sarasota, Florida)
Oktane: Identity management trends. (Nov. 2 - 4; Las Vegas)
FutureStack: Define your future with New Relic. (Nov. 11 - 13; San Francisco)