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Handshake: your data’s being sold, why not cash in?

Handshake is an app and website that allow you to negotiate a price for your personal data directly with the companies that want to buy it, cutting out the middle man.

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Handshakes puts you in power of your information

This is great for individuals looking to benefit from their personal data, but what about business? Flexibility, opportunity, and user data that is accurate and willingly given. Handshake gives you the ability to negotiate in real time with users who know their personal data is valuable. Even business user profiles contain data on personality, expertise, skills, opinion, intent, and context, giving you a broader view of the person you are negotiating with. Also, user profiles are easily accessible so you can closely match your target audience, as well as your budget. You can negotiate to get the greatest amount of results for the least amount of money, keeping your budget on track.

Handshake puts users in touch with brands and rewards them for who they are and what they are into (encouraging honesty). So your business can talk one-on-one with the right kind of people. This is a great way to get people’s opinions on new products, customer service experiences, or current ad campaigns, just by launching the Handshake app, or logging into the website, where you can post offers for users, which then become negotiable.

This can go really well or really poorly

For me this has the potential to go two ways, as with most things: bad or fantastic. On the bad side, there is the potential for this to appear “down market,” or beneath some companies. It could feel a bit like pandering, especially to well-established businesses. It also has the potential to be less than efficient. By the time you find a user, or group of users on the site, haggle over the price, and finally get the information you need, you may have been better off using another analytics platform to get what you need quickly. On the other hand, it could be pragmatic for well-established businesses to get less-biased opinions because you would be posing the questions to an audience genuinely wanting to give answers; and honesty can be a hard thing to find in the marketing world.

I think this is another situation where you need to weigh what is offered: honest opinions and negotiable rates, against the potential downfalls: efficient management of time and brand perception (will people think less of my business if I use this) and decide what works best for your situation. Since Handshake is currently taking application for Beta-testers, it will be interesting to see what improvements come in the final release in the next few months.

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

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Microsoft’s overseas email storage piqued the Supreme Court’s interest

(TECH NEWS) Microsoft has been in a pretty large dispute about storing user emails abroad and the Supreme Court has taken an interest in it.

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The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday that it will hear a case that will decide whether or not U.S. law enforcement officials can force tech companies to turn over emails and data stored in overseas servers.

The case will review a lower court decision made in 2013 after federal officials attempted to obtain emails from Microsoft that would provide evidence for drug trafficking cases.

At that time, Microsoft refused to comply with the government, even though they had a warrant, instead taking the case to court, claiming that the U.S. government did not have the right to access data stored in servers in Ireland.

The court of appeals ruled in favor of Microsoft, citing a 1986 digital privacy law that allows law enforcement to obtain warrants for electronic communications, but not if the data is stored outside of the United States.

Judge Susan Carney said of the law, “Neither explicitly nor implicitly does the statue envision the application of its warrant provisions overseas.”

The Trump Administration and the Justice Department say that this ruling has majorly blocked efforts to prosecute criminals.

“Under this opinion, hundreds if not thousands of investigations of crimes — ranging from terrorism, to child pornography, to fraud — are being or will be hampered by the government’s inability to obtain electronic evidence,” said Deputy Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall.

Because Microsoft stores data and communications closest to the user’s location, Wall said that the lower court’s decision made it all too easy for terrorists and other criminals to hide their communications by claiming to live in a foreign country when signing up for an account.

Microsoft argues that, instead of handing this decision over to the Supreme Court, legislators should update the 1986 law.

“The current laws were written for the era of the floppy disk, not the world of the cloud.” wrote Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith in a blog.

“We believe that rather than arguing over an old law in court, it is time for Congress to act by passing new legislation.”

In Congress, Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) are pushing for just such an update with a piece of legislation called the Stored Communications Act.

Microsoft further argued that allowing U.S. law enforcement to obtain data from other countries was an “incursion” on those nations’ sovereignty, which would make U.S. citizens more vulnerable to foreign governments.

“If U.S. law enforcement can obtain the emails of foreigners stored outside the United States, what’s to stop the government of another country from getting your emails even though they are located in the United States?” said Smith.

The Justice Department says that, along with Microsoft, Google, Verizon, and Yahoo have all stopped complying with search warrants since the lower court’s decision.

The Supreme Court will hear the case early in 2018 and hope to have a decision by June.

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iPhone X is driving prices up and customers away

(TECH NEWS) Apple’s new iPhone X has a pretty hefty price tag which is causing many long-time Apple fans to question their brand loyalty.

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Admit it – you were shocked when you heard that Apple was putting out a new phone that cost a thousand dollars or more.

So, it should really come as no surprise that customers – even committed Apple lovers – are having such bad sticker shock that they may continue using outdated devices, buy an older model of iPhone, or even try a different brand altogether rather than cough up that kind of cash.

Apple fans were stoked when they heard that the new iPhone X was coming out, especially because changes to the last few models have been sort of underwhelming. They hoped the new iPhone X would really be something special.

But when Apple revealed that the iPhone X with 64 GB of storage would cost $999, many balked. An iPhone X with 256 GB of storage will cost you even more at $1,149. This is the most expensive phone Apple has released to date.

Usually when a new iPhone is released, customers line up to get their hands on them and even form waiting lists as Apple furiously attempts to ship them quickly enough to keep up with the demand. This time, we’re not so sure that’s what’s going to happen.

Sure, price-conscious customers have never fallen under the iPhone spell in the first place. But Apple is banking on their most loyal fans to generate sales for the iPhone X. We won’t know for sure until the phone is released on November 3, and until Apple reports on its first and second quarter earnings.

But if fan forums are any indication, Apple might actually have a hard sell here.

A Reddit thread for hardcore Apple fans reveals that even diehards are hesitant to buy the iPhone X at its current price, and some are even outraged and dismayed that Apple would be so bold as to charge a thousand dollars.

Said one commentator, “I think the iPhone X will be a solid phone and I certainly wouldn’t mind having one, but to me the price is definitely overboard and Apple is starting to disappoint me a little with some of their changes (or overall lack thereof) to iOS.”

Some Apple fans are even switching to Samsung, or buying the recently released iPhone 8, which hasn’t particularly impressed anyone either.

Research by KeyBanc Capital shows that many customers are even “buying iPhone 7 in lieu of the new iPhone 8, given the lack of significant enhancements to the new phone.”

The iPhone 8, at $699, doesn’t seem to have enough new features to justify the price hike over the iPhone 7, which is $549.

The message from customers is loud and clear: Apple needs to put out something truly impressive, with some exciting new updates, if it expects its customers to pay hundreds of dollars more for the latest upgrade.

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Tech News

OnePlus swears to kinda stop collecting invasive data from users

(TECH NEWS) Inadvertently discovered during a hackathon, OnePlus was ousted for collecting insane amounts of data on users’ phones and promises to make a small change.

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Users of OnePlus phones were alarmed to learn this week that the company has been collecting large amounts of data from users without their consent or knowledge.

Software Engineer, Christopher Moore was participating in a hacking challenge when he discovered that his phone was sending excessive amounts of data to the OnePlus servers.

While it’s normal for your phone to automatically send data to headquarters when you have a bug or a system crash, OnePlus was collecting data every time the phone was turned off or on, and whenever apps were used.

“Moore says that OnePlus is collecting data such as phone numbers, serial numbers, WiFi and mobile network information, MAC addresses, and information about when and how apps are used, including Outlook and Slack.”

An opt-out option was buried deep within advanced settings. Most users were not aware that their data was being collected and transmitted.

In response to the user outcry, OnePlus posted an explanation on their support forum, saying that they were using the data to “fine tune our software according to user behavior” and to “provide better after-sales support.”

The company has promised to stop collecting MAC addresses, phone numbers, and WiFi information by the end of the month. They also say that they will update their terms of service to be more transparent about the data they are collecting, and will set up an opt-out option in the operating system’s setup wizard that will allow users to decide whether or not they want to join a “user experience program.”

While OnePlus claims that they have never given or sold information to a third party, users are suspicious that the types of data OnePlus is collecting would eventually be sold to marketers.

Even if you choose to opt out of the “user experience program”, OnePlus will continue to collect your data, but it will not be directly associated with your device. Users have generally not been satisfied with this response, saying that the company should give users the option of stopping all data transmissions.

Says Christopher Moore “Unfortunately, as a system service, there doesn’t appear to be any way of permanently disabling this data collection or removing this functionality without rooting the phone.”

You kind of blew it, OnePlus. You were caught red-handed, and it will take more than a partial opt out program to regain your customers’ trust.

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