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Patent for self-destructing email could be a real 'boom' for security

Karen Goulart, Senior Features Writer

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Karen Goulart

It's Independence Day weekend: Get ready too ooh and ahh over some awesome explosions. OK, nothing will literally explode, there will be no bright colors or big booms, but this is something post-NSA-leak Americans are sure to love more than apple pie: self-destructing email. Let's pause a moment to savor those words.

Yes, it seems AT&T is poised to make reality what has long been the dream of short-fused employees and errant "reply all" clickers. This week, the telecom company released to the public its patent for a system that would allow senders to control their email. Not only would users be able to limit the lifespan of a message, they would also be able to control to whom it can be forwarded. Kind of like Snapchat with words (and for grown-ups).

It could definitely be a godsend for those aforementioned folks with itchy "send" fingers, but more impressively -- as Forbes contributor Matt Hickey points out in this week's lead Searchlight item -- it could change the landscape of email security. While the first reaction and focus of many bloggers and commenters is on individuals saving face, Hickey points out the potential for securely sharing important business-related information (like patents!). Vanishing email has been tried before, so time will tell if AT&T's attempt is the real deal -- and if it is, whether the powers that be (and see) will make it "disappear."

Check out SearchCIO's own coverage of these topics

Living the e-life with an eye on security, data privacy

Big data means big makeover for data warehousing architecture

Should the CIO be managing BYOD policy?

Also this week: a veritable celebration of innovation with a potential new i-device, a metadata project that lets you spy on the most interesting person in the world, a hat tip to a true tech visionary and more.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Karen Goulart, senior features writer.


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