Samsung Still Bans Its Own Hot New Phones From The Office

from the leave-'em-at-home dept

Three years ago, just as plenty of companies started freaking out about the so-called "dangers" of cameraphones in the workplace, we found it amusing that cameraphone (among other things) maker Samsung had banned cameraphones in the workplace. In other words, employees couldn't even bring the company's own product to work. While there were many similar announcements around that time, we hadn't heard too many similar stories lately. The hope was that companies were calming down and recognizing that it was both silly and pointless to completely ban cameraphones in the workplace. Apparently, not everyone has figured this out. Samsung is still banning some of their own phones in the workplace. This time, it's the new SCH-B570 because it comes with an 8 GB hard drive that the company is afraid will be used to swipe confidential information. Of course, we've discussed in the past just how pointless such restrictions are. There are so many ways to get confidential data off a computer. Banning portable hard drives throws out plenty of baby with just a little bath water. Anyone who's serious about taking confidential corporate info will figure out a way to do so. Completely banning phones with hard drives due to the fear of potential espionage goes way too far, punishing everyone to stop a risk that won't be stopped anyway. Of course, it also makes you wonder, if they're so concerned with it in the workplace, wouldn't they assume others would be as well -- therefore drastically shrinking the potential market for such phones?


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    identicon
    SortaLikeJake, May 26th, 2006 @ 3:10am

    StupidPhones

    Where there is a will, there is a way. If people want to steal trade secrets, there are much easier ways than using a camera phone.

    Why the hell do I need a camera in my phone anyway? That's why I have a camera -- it does a much better job, too. The dumb bastards should just make a phone that 1) fits in my pocket easily, 2) works any damn where, 3) and won't break at the slightest tap.

    Instead.. oooh, mine lights up when it rings and takes shitty pictures...

     

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  2.  
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    ElectricMayhem, May 26th, 2006 @ 3:22am

    Camera phones at work

    it strikes me that if they distrust their staff that much... either their hiring policy sucks or they're really paranoid and need to calm down...either way, it's laughable.....get a grip guys....

    and yes i agree with sortalikejake.....just make me a good phone that does what it should.....my old nokia analogue...bit of a brick...but by god it worked so well that no one could tell i was using a mobile..even when hands free in the car....

     

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  3.  
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    matt, May 26th, 2006 @ 3:35am

    Re: StupidPhones

    camera phones are handy because you dont take a digital camera everywhere with you, but you do take a phone everywhere with you.

     

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  4.  
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    Bavi, May 26th, 2006 @ 4:14am

    Should think before manufacturing it

    its too late to realize. They should have think of these so called dangers before. U can't always have a camera with you but can have phone........

     

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  5.  
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    Ron Melancon, May 26th, 2006 @ 4:21am

    Samsung

    Maybe they should consider building a 15 foot steel wall around the office and contracting with the National Guard.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 26th, 2006 @ 4:22am

    About Samsung

    If you've ever been to Samsung's main facility in Suwon City, Korea, you'll know what the story is. These people are absolutely paranoid about intellectual property theft. When you go to visit the gargantuan Samsung campus, you go to a security station that takes your passport (yes, your passport...), checks your credentials, and then takes all USB keys, phones, cameras, etc. and puts them in a bag to check in while you're in there. Any laptops that go in get sealed with tape and a bag, and the person responsible for bringing you into the facility has to make sure that you don't do something like put one of their hard drives in your machine. Then you go through a metal detector to make sure you have nothing else on you and you're off to the races inside the camera-infested complex. You don't want to know what kind of trouble you'd be in if you violated any of these regulations, especially considering that Suwon City is basically run by Samsung.

    I'm actually very surprised that they haven't done this already, but it's consistent with what they do to their visitors. Apparently there's a lot of spying going on between them, LG, and a number of Japanese, Taiwanese and Chinese companies, and this is their rationale. It just seems ironic that they hadn't done this before given their relative paranoia since their own employees are probably a much bigger risk than their visitors.

     

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  7.  
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    STJ, May 26th, 2006 @ 4:23am

    I have a 256M thumb drive which slips in my pocket and no one notices. Or the old stand by which I have brought up to my sup when they bring thses things up: wait.. wait... paper and pens!!!!!!

     

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  8.  
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    tim, May 26th, 2006 @ 5:26am

    Idiotic Summary....

    The hope was that companies were calming down and recognizing that it was both silly and pointless to completely ban cameraphones in the workplace.

    It's not silly and pointless at all, as new graphic designs or logos for clients, financial and other confidential paperwork could be copied, and many other misuses and abuses.

    Of course, we've discussed in the past just how pointless such restrictions are. There are so many ways to get confidential data off a computer. Banning portable hard drives throws out plenty of baby with just a little bath water. Anyone who's serious about taking confidential corporate info will figure out a way to do so.

    Thank God you're not in corporate leadership, because bringing any removable media device into a secure facility is a HUGE security risk. A company I've worked for in the past had at LEAST two incidents of workers walking out with sensitive data on our products and/or client base.

    Of course, it also makes you wonder, if they're so concerned with it in the workplace, wouldn't they assume others would be as well -- therefore drastically shrinking the potential market for such phones?

    Last I heard, it was the employee, not the employer, who decided which phone to buy for his/her personal service. So saying that a company's ban of certain phones will impact sales in any major way is a stretch at best, which seems to be what your recent one sided opinions are getting better and better at.

    Generally, TechDirt is a good read, and I frequent it daily, but sometimes, as in this case, you jump way off base. Maybe if you spent less time bashing a viewpoint, and instead tried to find any legitimacy, and then actually compared it to your own, you might come up with a sensible median. You advertise this site for corporations stating "Techdirt gets the right information to the right people at the right time."

    Saying that a corporations fears of compromising data of the business and/or clients is unfounded is not following that mission statement. Yes, there are many other ways to steal corporate data, but wouldn't restrictions keep more "amateurish" potential data leakers from taking that extra step? Sometimes people just need an opportunity, so keeping that opportunity out of their hands is always a good thing IMO.

     

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  9.  
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    Bob, May 26th, 2006 @ 5:28am

    And your point is??

    It's easy to stand outside the company and ridicule them for policies, especially if one doesn't seem to understand what security really is. The point is not to make it impossible to take information out of a company, the point of most security measures is to elevate the difficulty of theft to make it seem not worth the effort. You do the same thing every day, if you're one of the many motorists who locks your car or a homeowner that locks your house. Doing so doesn't make it impossible to steal your car or your house. That's why these restrictions are no more pointless that you locking your car. You say, "The hope was that companies were calming down and recognizing that it was both silly and pointless to completely ban cameraphones in the workplace" but would you say, "The hope was that most people were calming down and recognizing that it was both silly and pointless to lock their houses." When dealing with security, there is no such thing as being completely secure. There is only reasonably secure. And banning something that has no useful business purpose in the first place seems reasonable to me.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 26th, 2006 @ 6:17am

    Yes, actually it's VERY easy to ridicule a company for banning their own product - no matter how you look at it, it speaks VOLUMES about the product...

    Oh well, don't have a Samsung phone now - and for fears my employer might ban it.... I guess I won't buy one!

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 26th, 2006 @ 6:38am

    Re: Idiotic Summary....

    I disagree most companines I know and have friends working for including mine give their employee's laptops to use. I take this laptop home almost every day and can always do so. If I was really interested in sneaking out information I could put it on my 80gb laptop drive and get out a lot more data than a 1gb stick. Or even easier we all have internet access just ftp the information to a server somewhere and you're set.

    Then their are no personal camera's or camera phones allowed, but we have ones for Company use which could be abused just as easy or easier than bringing your own in, if that is what you intended.

    Thus there are way to many tools that are freely available that could be used for this purpose and are not banned. So it really makes no sense to ban personal items because if you have bad employees that are going to be screwing you over, then they have plenty of other methods.

     

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  12.  
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    Wolfger, May 26th, 2006 @ 6:39am

    Silly and Pointless

    Regardless of what Tim says, camera-phone bans *are* silly and pointless. I'm working at DaimlerChrysler, where the SillyPointless ban is in full force, except people walk in and out with USB keys all the time, there's no password to get an outside line on a fax machine, and of course there's always e-mail. There's limitless possibilities for "sneaking" data out, in addition to the old, crafty, stick-the-phone-in-your-pocket-so-they-don't-see-it maneuver. I did, in fact, walk into the building with a camera one day simply because I'd forgotten I had stuffed it in my laptop case during my weekend trip. All this rule does is inconvenience people who want to use their own cell phones because the company won't buy everybody a phone (and I don't blame them for that!)

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Marc Morales, CISSP, May 26th, 2006 @ 7:06am

    Techdirt Should Know Better

    "Of course, we've discussed in the past just how pointless such restrictions are. There are so many ways to get confidential data off a computer. Banning portable hard drives throws out plenty of baby with just a little bath water. Anyone who's serious about taking confidential corporate info will figure out a way to do so."

    I would imagine that there are other security measures in place to address this, and Techdirt should really know better than to make such a stupid comment. If they don't know what mechanisms are available to protect data, they should remove the Tech from their name.

     

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  14.  
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    Zeroth404, May 26th, 2006 @ 7:51am

    have they banned cameras?

    I doubt it.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 26th, 2006 @ 7:58am

    The ban makes sense to me. I work in a bank's IT department and while we are nowhere near the size of Bank of America securing data to the best of our ability a major concern. But just to make myeself feel better I'd buy a basic (no camera no memory capacity... if you can still find one) cell phone from a different provider and take it to work.

     

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  16.  
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    mikew, May 26th, 2006 @ 8:37am

    Re: Idiotic Summary....

    Tim....

    Please don't come in here posting clear headed, real world responses. It screws up my head.

    Thanks
    Cheers,
    mike
    Altadena, ca

     

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  17.  
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    Alpharocker, May 26th, 2006 @ 9:07am

    Where theres a will theres a way

    This argument is a difficult one, because though it may still be possible to smuggle confidential information out of the workplace, why would you make it any easier?

    The world doesn't work in black and white, not everyone is pure good and bad. There are plenty of people that, given the oppurtunity, will do something "bad", that they wouldn't have set out to do otherwise.

    Having an open door policy with things like flash drives only invites trouble.

     

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  18.  
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    KC, May 26th, 2006 @ 10:01am

    Why lock you car when it can get stolen anyway? Why do women dress up when men look at them as if they are not wearing anything? Why do you bother to have a firewall/anti-virus if the pros are going to get in anyway? If they want it bad enough, they will get what they want, but deterrance is always the best first step.

     

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  19.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), May 26th, 2006 @ 10:11am

    Re: Idiotic Summary....

    It's not silly and pointless at all, as new graphic designs or logos for clients, financial and other confidential paperwork could be copied, and many other misuses and abuses.

    You think this ban will actually stop those abuses?

    Thank God you're not in corporate leadership, because bringing any removable media device into a secure facility is a HUGE security risk. A company I've worked for in the past had at LEAST two incidents of workers walking out with sensitive data on our products and/or client base.

    Who are you letting into your "secure" facility? If you can't trust your own employees, then you have a hiring problem. Trying to pretend that banning cameraphones or removable media solves the problem is silly. First, it's impossible to keep them all out. Second, we live in a networked world, where any data can easily get out of a specific facility without removable media.

    Last I heard, it was the employee, not the employer, who decided which phone to buy for his/her personal service. So saying that a company's ban of certain phones will impact sales in any major way is a stretch at best, which seems to be what your recent one sided opinions are getting better and better at.

    Hmm. If you couldn't bring a certain phone to work, it suddenly makes it a lot less valuable to a large % of the population. So, yes, even though it's the employees who buy the phones, the market has shrunk dramatically.

    Besides, there are plenty of firms that actually do buy phones for their employees.

    So, I stand by the statement on both factors.

    Saying that a corporations fears of compromising data of the business and/or clients is unfounded is not following that mission statement.

    Sure it is. We're telling companies that such policies are a waste of their time and effort. It won't do anything to prevent data theft. In the case of Samsung, it shrinks their market and it removes all of the benefits of using such phones from the office place. It's a strategic blunder.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Steve, May 26th, 2006 @ 10:29am

    IT

    All you people who claim that you should be able to trust your employees, etc. Business is cut throat, you don't know what agenda your employees have. Besides, its not always just your employees. What about outside contractors within the facility.

    About there being other means of stealing information: the ban is a deterrant. If you aren't allowed to bring something to work, thats one less means you have of easily gaining access to material that you have no business removing from the worksite.

    Many of the readers have no knowledge of COMSEC, thusly so, it is understood that you wouldn't understand the ban. Stop whining. People in the military don't take their camera phones to work, I'm sure people working around sensative civilian information could cope just the same.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Posterlogo, May 26th, 2006 @ 10:31am

    Re: About Samsung

    Apparently there's a lot of spying going on between them, LG, and a number of Japanese, Taiwanese and Chinese companies, and this is their rationale. It just seems ironic that they hadn't done this before given their relative paranoia since their own employees are probably a much bigger risk than their visitors.


    This is exactly the point. They're not mindlessly paranoid like some kind of disease. The major cell phone suppliers have extremely limited differentiation between their products currently. Any leaks as to what is in the pipeline, well that would just kill the last card they're holding. Thanks anyway, Mike, for the extremely biased post. You're always right. Anything any company does is always pointless.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    camera phone has its purpose, May 26th, 2006 @ 10:46am

    Re: StupidPhones

    imagine u r involved in a car accident.. not a life threatening.. just a big damage to ur car or to the car u hit..

    do u carry a camera when u drive to a supermarket?? no.. so to get the best evidence.. of claiming a claim.. u take photos from ur phone... its bad quality.. but clear enough to show the insurance company..

    other thing such as.. taking picture when needed.. like i see someone beat the crap out of u... and u died.. well.. i would think u hope that i can have a camera to take the photo of ur attacker right?? but since ur language here is so inmature.. i think i would rather ignore my camera..

    a phone camera is never attempting (for now anyway) to replace the proper digital camera.. it is there for the convenience.. ....
    i bet u gonna argue and say that u carry ur camera with u all the time now right??? well u r just sad..

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 26th, 2006 @ 10:53am

    Cutting Sales

    I work in a classified space for the military and it has no impact on the type of phone that I, or any of my coworkers, buy. All cell phones and PED's are banned from the area. We simply don't take our phones into the office. I leave mine in the car and, amazingly enough, when I come out after work its right there showing any missed calls. I still use the phone in my personal life so I get the one that does everything I want it to. Who cares if I can't take it to work with me? If there is an emergency and somebody needs to call me, they can use the land-line phone at work to contact me.

     

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  24.  
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    Mike (profile), May 26th, 2006 @ 12:00pm

    Re: IT

    All you people who claim that you should be able to trust your employees, etc. Business is cut throat, you don't know what agenda your employees have. Besides, its not always just your employees. What about outside contractors within the facility.

    You are missing the point. Do most offices ban photocopying machines? No, because they know there's a benefit to letting employees use them, even though there are risks associated as well.

    The point is that the outright ban is overkill, throwing out plenty of good with a small risk for bad. And, the risk from other sources that info is stolen is so much higher that worrying about something like this is pointless.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 26th, 2006 @ 12:17pm

    Re: StupidPhones

    well said!

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Troy, May 26th, 2006 @ 12:48pm

    Re: Re: IT

    You are missing the point. Do most offices ban photocopying machines? No, because they know there's a benefit to letting employees use them, even though there are risks associated as well. No, because most offices have photocopying machines presumably for business purposes. The point is that the outright ban is overkill, throwing out plenty of good with a small risk for bad. And, the risk from other sources that info is stolen is so much higher that worrying about something like this is pointless. Throwing out plenty of good? So why exactly do employees need personal phones when they're working, and why is that good for business? What kind of analysis have you done to decide that the risk of a competitor seeing photos of the office is a small one in Samsung's case? Have you been to the offices?

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Tim, May 26th, 2006 @ 1:25pm

    Re: Re: Idiotic Summary....

    You think this ban will actually stop those abuses?

    You'll never stop the determined, but you can stop those who might have a tendency. More below on next comment.

    Who are you letting into your "secure" facility? If you can't trust your own employees, then you have a hiring problem. Trying to pretend that banning cameraphones or removable media solves the problem is silly. First, it's impossible to keep them all out. Second, we live in a networked world, where any data can easily get out of a specific facility without removable media.

    Working for the largest Software company in its field, we had many competitors. one gentleman slowly exported all clients contact information, then moved to a different company (ironically our biggest competitor)*. Another used a jump drive (USB flash) to take some client data for malicious use. Yes, you try to hire the brightest, best, and most trustworthy, but as another person stated, business is cut throat, and no one can see through everyone's lies. Had we enforced the ban on the removeable media, that person may have never had the opportunity to do what he did, and honestly, probably wouldn't have. But when it was presented to him, and the ease of which it could have been acquired, he acted on it.

    Hmm. If you couldn't bring a certain phone to work, it suddenly makes it a lot less valuable to a large % of the population. So, yes, even though it's the employees who buy the phones, the market has shrunk dramatically. Besides, there are plenty of firms that actually do buy phones for their employees.

    Company phones are one thing, but honestly, for most businesses, in office environments, there are no benefits to the employer for their workers to have cell phones at all. Out of the office, maybe, but in an office building, cell phones are more of a distraction than anything else. In the compnay I was at, the call center was always battling people spending more time on their cell phones than on the work phones. But we tried to be the "nice" company by not restricting cell phones completely. We knew it was giving up productivity for the sake on good moral.

    Sure it is. We're telling companies that such policies are a waste of their time and effort. It won't do anything to prevent data theft. In the case of Samsung, it shrinks their market and it removes all of the benefits of using such phones from the office place. It's a strategic blunder.

    Again, no cell phones with cameraphone in no way hinders daily work for the employees, just a minor inconvenience. If it impacts sales, it will be very minimal at best. And IMO, I'd rather a large company with client's personal data (maybe not Samsung, but a major bank) erring on the side of caution. Stand by that statement, but at this time the only person I think you've convinced is yourself.



    * The guy later resurfaced, working in a cheap supermarket as a counter clerk. I guess screwing a company and stealing sensitive data, only to sell it to a competitor doesn't give that new company much reason to trust you there for long. It was good to see him out on his arse.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    timagain, May 26th, 2006 @ 1:40pm

    Re: Idiotic Summary...

    Tried to post this as a response, got this: Your comment has been flagged as potential spam, it will be reviewed by our staff before it is posted.
    Am I being suppressed?

    You think this ban will actually stop those abuses?

    You'll never stop the determined, but you can stop those who might have a tendency. More below on next comment.

    Who are you letting into your "secure" facility? If you can't trust your own employees, then you have a hiring problem. Trying to pretend that banning cameraphones or removable media solves the problem is silly. First, it's impossible to keep them all out. Second, we live in a networked world, where any data can easily get out of a specific facility without removable media.

    Working for the largest Software company in its field, we had many competitors. one gentleman slowly exported all clients contact information, then moved to a different company (ironically our biggest competitor)*. Another used a jump drive (USB flash) to take some client data for malicious use. Yes, you try to hire the brightest, best, and most trustworthy, but as another person stated, business is cut throat, and no one can see through everyone's lies. Had we enforced the ban on the removeable media, that person may have never had the opportunity to do what he did, and honestly, probably wouldn't have. But when it was presented to him, and the ease of which it could have been acquired, he acted on it.

    Hmm. If you couldn't bring a certain phone to work, it suddenly makes it a lot less valuable to a large % of the population. So, yes, even though it's the employees who buy the phones, the market has shrunk dramatically. Besides, there are plenty of firms that actually do buy phones for their employees.

    Company phones are one thing, but honestly, for most businesses, in office environments, there are no benefits to the employer for their workers to have cell phones at all. Out of the office, maybe, but in an office building, cell phones are more of a distraction than anything else. In the compnay I was at, the call center was always battling people spending more time on their cell phones than on the work phones. But we tried to be the "nice" company by not restricting cell phones completely. We knew it was giving up productivity for the sake on good moral.

    Sure it is. We're telling companies that such policies are a waste of their time and effort. It won't do anything to prevent data theft. In the case of Samsung, it shrinks their market and it removes all of the benefits of using such phones from the office place. It's a strategic blunder.

    Again, no cell phones with cameraphone in no way hinders daily work for the employees, just a minor inconvenience. If it impacts sales, it will be very minimal at best. And IMO, I'd rather a large company with client's personal data (maybe not Samsung, but a major bank) erring on the side of caution. Stand by that statement, but at this time the only person I think you've convinced is yourself.



    * The guy later resurfaced, working in a cheap supermarket as a counter clerk. I guess screwing a company and stealing sensitive data, only to sell it to a competitor doesn't give that new company much reason to trust you there for long. It was good to see him out on his arse.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    timagain, May 26th, 2006 @ 1:41pm

    OK, tell me why I could post the above from my home PC, a different IP, but from work, I was recorded as spam? Is Techdirt selectively blocking comments?

     

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  30.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), May 26th, 2006 @ 2:26pm

    Re:

    OK, tell me why I could post the above from my home PC, a different IP, but from work, I was recorded as spam? Is Techdirt selectively blocking comments?



    Two things.

    1. You answered your own question. We have a spam filter, and among the things it takes into account are IP addresses. There's no conspiracy here.

    2. As the note said when you tried to post your original comment, staff would review the comment, and if it wasn't spam, it would be approved --- as I see it was.

    This site gets well over 1000 comment spams a day. Our filter catches about 99% of them, and catches about 5 comments that aren't spam a day, and we work to get them approved as quickly as possible. To suggest that we would suppress your comments, when it EVEN SAYS we would look it over and allow it if it wasn't spam (as we did) is just silly.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    tim (teh nub), May 26th, 2006 @ 3:03pm

    Mike @ Techdirt: 1
    tim the conspiracy nub: 0

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    The guy, May 26th, 2006 @ 8:01pm

    Well I can't have a camera phone

    Well I can't have a camera phone, but that because I work in a so called secure location even has a separate network. It sucks working for a company that won’t allow camera phones because the only phone you can get when you have Verxxx is some cheap thick phone. I feel like writing to my senator asking her to pass legislation with a shall statement. It would state that all cell phones sold in the US shall have two versions per model one with a camera and the other without. Or be forced to pay a 1 trillion dollar fine.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Tim Arview, May 26th, 2006 @ 9:21pm

    Same here

    I work at a CD/DVD manufacturing plant and we are not allowed to bring CDs or DVDs (or any "media" devices) into the plant. Even if the CDs and DVDs already have content on them and are not rewritable.

    Yeah, it's stupid. But since they're the ones writing the checks every week, I figure I'll let them get away with it.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    jim, May 27th, 2006 @ 5:04am

    phones

    i'm at daimler chrysler, GM, ford, and LG all the time. I haven't ever bought a phone for myself with a camera because at these facilities not only do you see "anybody on personal cell phones will be fired" but you see no camera phones allowed. I'll stick with my crappy v180 and i90c so that i can keep going to work, and using my phone.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Xanthir, May 30th, 2006 @ 2:08pm

    Re: Re: StupidPhones

    Horrible spelling, but good point. I recently used my cameraphone for *exactly* this purpose. I was in a minor accident, and I used the phone to take pictures of both my car and the offending vehicle for insurance purposes. Very nice.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Mr. Bill, Mar 4th, 2007 @ 9:50am

    Why would I bring a camera phone to steal secrets??? Just bring a tiny little sdram chip and a small reader. Steal your secrets and throw the reader away. Walk away with a tiny little chip and nothing else. People might want to check my camera phone for data but who frisks their employees for a tiny little chip? If you want to secure you electronic data just provide workstations with no in/output provided on them. Now way to take the data. If I was going to take pictures of the screen I would need a better camera than a camera phone to do it effectively and better quality cameras can be the same size as a camera phone.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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