Attack On Human Rights

Gun Rights

So we’re sitting in the coffee shop and this guy near us has some books on the table. 


He’s reading three things:


– The Holy Bible


– Second Amendment Primer


– The Heller Case (the landmark decision by the Supreme Court in 2008 protecting an individual’s right to bear arms for self defense in “federal enclaves”). 


So somebody says jokingly, “You think he’s a Republican?”


It made me think how we get judged by not only our behaviors, but also by our apparent beliefs, politics, and associations. 


Even if we don’t necessary do anything wrong or controversial, people see us, sum us up, and place judgement upon us. 


Moreover, while we may have a legal right to do something, people may still look disparagingly on us for exercising our rights.


Speak you mind freely, practice your religion openly, stand firm on privacy, own a gun in a liberal part of town, and you may find yourself being stared, pointed, or sneered at, whispered about, threatened, harassed, or otherwise disapproved of in small and/or big ways. 


My question is how is something a right if people still can mistreat you for exercising it in appropriate ways?  


I’ve heard people say things like you’re eligible for X, Y, or Z, but your not entitled to it.


They confuse rights as eligibility, rather than entitlement. 


So some people water down our Bill of Rights that way–thinking, saying, and acting in way that you are eligible to do something, BUT only if you ask nicely or do it a certain way that the other person arbitrarily approves of, and not that you are entitled to it as a basic human right!


Yes, of course we all need to behave responsibility and not yell fire in a crowded theater, but that doesn’t mean that human rights are subject to the whim of people’s mood’s, tempers, personal views, and bullying behavior. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Self-Aware Grafitti Artist

Writing
So got to hand it to this graffiti artist. 



He/she is quite introspective. 



They wrote on this pole in D.C. “Writes his problems away!”



Thus, it’s not just any old graffiti that often desecrates public or private property, but in this case it is an emotional and psychological catharsis for the artist.  



Sure when you write, you can express yourself and your feelings–you can think things through and work them out in your head. 



Also, you can share of yourself with others and influence them too. 



On the lamp pole, bus stop, or building wall–ah, not the best place to work these things out. 



But on paper or the computer, if you have something important to say, get it off your chest–go for it–and you can feel better too! 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

To Archive Or Not

To Archive Or Not

Farhad Manjoo had a good piece in the Wall Street Journal on the Forever Internet vs. the Erasable Internet.

The question he raises is whether items on the Internet should be archived indefinitely or whether we should be able to delete postings.

Manjoo uses the example of Snapshot where messages and photos disappear a few seconds after the recipient opens them–a self-destruct feature.

It reminded me of Mission Impossible, where each episode started with the tape recording of the next mission’s instructions that would then self-destruct in five seconds…whoosh, gone.

I remember seeing a demo years ago of an enterprise product that did this for email messages–where you could lock down or limit the capability to print, share, screenshot, or otherwise retain messages that you sent to others.

It seemed like a pretty cool feature in that you could communicate what you really thought about something–instead of an antiseptic version–without being in constant fear that it would be used against you by some unknown individual at some future date.

I thought, wow, if we had this in our organizations, perhaps we could get more honest ideas, discussion, vetting, and better decision making if we just let people genuinely speak their minds.

Isn’t that what the First Amendment is really all about–“speaking truth to power”(of course, with appropriate limits–you can’t just provoke violence, incite illegal actions, damage or defame others, etc.)?

Perhaps, not everything we say or do needs to be kept for eternity–even though both public and private sector organizations benefit from using these for “big data” analytics for everything from marketing to national security.

Like Manjoo points out, when we keep each and every utterance, photo, video, and audio, you create a situation where you have to “constantly police yourself, to create a single, stultifying profile that restricts spontaneous self-expression.”

While one one hand, it is good to think twice before you speak or post–so that you act with decency and civility–on the other hand, it is also good to be free to be yourself and not a virtual fake online and in the office.

Some things are worth keeping–official records of people, places, things, and events–especially those of operational, legal or historical significance and even those of sentimental value–and these should be archived and preserved in a time appropriate way so that we can reference, study, and learn from them for their useful lives.

But not everything is records-worthy, and we should be able to decide–within common sense guidelines for records management, privacy, and security–what we save and what we keep online and off.

Some people are hoarders and others are neat freaks, but the point is that we have a choice–we have freedom to decide whether to put that old pair of sneakers in a cardboard box in the garage, trash it, or donate it.

Overall, I would summarize using the photo in this post of the vault boxes, there is no need to store your umbrella there–it isn’t raining indoors. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Spinster Cardigan)

The Keys To Good Government

The Keys To Good Government

Peggy Noonan hit it right on the head in today’s Wall Street Journal.

The fear of giving up privacy, she said, is of a “massive surveillance state,” and this is not overblown.

The crux of this concern is that if Government (or I would add hackers) can intrude on citizen’s private communications and thoughts, then eventually people will self-censor.

No privacy does mean government control.

As Noonan makes clear, violations of citizen privacy is not just a threat to the Fourth Amendment protecting against unreasonable search and seizure, but is a bona fide danger as well to the First Amendment guaranteeing free speech.

People should not be afraid to think critically and creatively because of what the government may do to them (and their families) for disagreeing with fraud, waste, abuse, special interests, and stupidity.

Rather, politicians should fear being criticized and not re-elected for violating the duty to rule justly and as true representatives of the people.

However, when government and politicians can listen in, see, and know what the lawful opposition in thinking and doing, then they are given virtually absolute power.

And absolute power does corrupt absolutely.

We should not change our underlying values of freedom and become a nation of routine digital interrogation of everyday John Doe’s.

Terrorists, traitors, anarchists, and hostile nation states should be pursued and given no rest or privacy from our intelligence, law enforcement, and warfighters.

But well-meaning citizens should be free to think, feel, and say what they believe in the best interest of the country.

Upright citizen’s should never have to fear an unjust government, but rather corrupt politicians should be concerned about violating the fundamental rights of the people.

At least two keys to good government are privacy and free speech. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Empirical Perception)

Have Your Voice Heard

There is a new application from the White House called “We The People” for crowdsourcing public opinion and getting your voice heard on policy issues.
This is an easy way to let the administration know your opinions and get others to sign on as well.
It’s simple to set up an account–just input your name, email, and zip code and verify your account.
Then you can sign existing petitions or create your own and share the link with others via email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Here’s how to create a petition in 10 easy steps:
1) Sign on to your White House.gov account
2) Create an action statement (i.e. petition headline)
3) Select up to 3 issue categories
4) Review existing petitions on the same subjects
5) Sign the other petitions and/or create your own
6) Describe your petition in 800 words or less
7) Add key words (tags).
8) Preview and edit
9) Publish
10) Share
According to the site, the current threshold for getting an official response is 5,000 signatures within 30 days.
So petition away and let your voice be heard on important issues to you–this is your hotline to the President and his staff.
I can’t think of a better use of social media than this.
(I work for the government, but am not representing them here…all opinions my own.)

When Free Speech Goes Afoul

Fire_theater

Freedom of speech is one of our most precious rights. 

However, there are limits – times when the right to speak and publish comes up against the principle that one should not cause harm to others
The famous example is that you cannot falsely cry, “Fire!” in a crowded theater
Free speech–yes; harm to others–no. 
This week (11-17, July 2011), a BusinessWeek article called “Set Them Free”  exemplifies what can happen when free speech goes too far.
The article is an argument in favor of illegal immigration.  
The author’s thesis is stated in the form of a rhetorical question: “Laws against illegal immigration make little economic or moral sense. So why punish the brave citizen who break them?”
Certainly, I am sympathetic to newcomers to our land. I come from a family of immigrants, like so many American citizens, and I value the opportunities and freedom this country has provided to me and my family. 
However, in this article, the author openly promotes breaking the law. He supports “illegal” immigration and calls for others to facilitate it.
One can argue about economics and morality of immigration policy, but from my perspective, obviously, no country can have fully open borders. Logically, this helps to ensure safety, security, and social order. Coming up on the 10-year “anniversary” of the events of 9/11, this is a no-brainer.
I therefore have trouble believing that Bloomberg would publish an article essentially calling for an end to border security. Any arguments regarding economic benefit do not detract from the clear negative implications for national security. (Note: all opinions my own.)
Not only does the article ignore this point, but it brazenly calls the laws against illegal immigration “immoral.” 
The author stretches the limits of free speech beyond the breaking point in my view when he recklessly states“When a law itself prohibits doing the right thing, when it is immoral rather than just annoying or inconvenient, and when breaking the law does no great harm to any others, it is justifiable for people of conscience to chose to break that law.”
He literally states that illegal immigration is “the right thing (!)”
How can a mainstream media source publish such extremist rhetoric, even going so far as to compare the U.S. laws to apartheid: “Current, U.S. immigration laws have all the moral standing of pass laws in apartheid South Africa.”
In addition to teaching us that free speech can be misused to spread extremism, hatred, lies, promote civil disobedience, and enable chaos, there are some other unfortunate lessons here.
The first is that one must think critically about what one reads, even if it is in a supposedly “mass media” publication. For immigration is a blessing and a privilege, but not an entitlement. Nobody has the right to enter another country’s borders at will, without restriction.
Second, and more troubling, extremist thinking clearly continues to flourish not only outside our borders, but from fanatics within.
While I agree that we should always be moral, help those in need, and make good economic decisions, this does not negate the importance of maintaining security and social order. Further, it is irresponsible at the very least to promote breaking the law, and offensive to compare illegal immigration as an issue of economic exploitation to the drastic human rights abuses of apartheid South Africa.
(Source Photo: here)

>Information Privacy and Enterprise Architecture

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The Privacy Act of 1974 states: “no agency shall disclose any record which is contained in a system of records by any means of communication to any person, or to another agency, except pursuant to a written request by, or with the prior written consent of, the individual to whom the record pertains.”However, there are certain exception for statistical, archival, and law enforcement purposes.

What is privacy?

In MIT Technology Review, “The Talk of The Town: You—Rethinking Privacy In an Immodest Age” (November/December 2007), by Mark Williams, the author states Columbia University professor emeritus of public law Alan F. Westin defines privacy as, ‘the claim of individuals, groups, or institutions to determine for themselves when, how, and to what extent information about them is communicated to others.’”

Do we have privacy?

Already in 1999, Sun Microsystems chairman Scott ­McNealy stated, “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.

These days, there is no illusion of privacy, as young people routinely put their biographical details and images online at a myriad of social-networking websites. Moreover, “kids casually accept that the record of their lives could be Googled by anyone at any time…some even considered their elders’ expectations about privacy to be a weird, old-fogey thing–a narcissistic hang-up.”

Privacy is certainly not an absolute, especially since we need to balance the right to privacy against the first amendment guarantee of free speech. However, when people think their rights to privacy has been abused they have recourse to tort, defamation, and privacy law.

EA’s role in privacy:

User-centric EA supports the Investment Review Board selection, prioritization, and funding of new IT investments with architecture reviews and assessments; these EA reviews include a detailed appraisal of everything in the “information” perspective, including information management, sharing, accessibility, assurance, records, and of course privacy issues.

Furthermore, more detailed privacy impact assessments (PIAs) must be conducted, according to the the E-Government Act of 2002, “when developing or procuring IT systems or projects that collect, maintain or disseminate information in identifiable form from or about members of the public.”

Although Generation Y does not particularly seem to value their privacy as you’d expect, EA, along with the privacy officer and the chief information security officer, plays a critical role in monitoring and ensuring the privacy of information managed by the enterprise.