Lights! Camera! Privacy! wuuuut

privacy-movie-cutWhat?? Movies about privacy? I mean, cutting edge, action-packed, thriller movies about privacy! Not since the Alfred Hitchcock horror classic Psycho where the poor girl’s privacy was blown to bits (or stabbed to bits) has privacy been so prevalent in movies. (and anyone who doesn’t think killing a naked woman in the shower for entertainment purposes is about privacy .. . define “naked”)

Jason Bourne. Silicon Valley, megabillions, internet start-up conspired with the CIA to build in back doors in exchange for funding and then only tried to stand up for privacy once the start-up Deep Dream made all their money. I make no judgments about their lack of reality with technology, just that to the masses, when the CEO tells the CIA director played by the amazing Tommy Lee Jones, “Privacy – you should be protecting it!” (or something like that, I was writing on a napkin in the dark, people) – it was stellar!

There was a party in my privacy geek genes.

And then! Then it really went crazy when I saw Now You See Me 2. First, I love this movie. Movies that keep me guessing…don’t happen often. This one did. LOVED IT. Not to mention the amazing cast of characters. plus magic. equaled MAGIC!! And again, about privacy. The wizard, no wait, magician – no, he wasn’t a magician, he was a paranoid spoiled illegitimately-claimed illegitimate son of a millionaire who wanted to steal a chip that provided back doors into everyone’s life. He wanted to be private. And he claimed that you cannot reform the system from within it (which has major philosophical implications for a later discussion).

But wheeeeee – the privacy geek genes are still partying!

 

 

 

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Why Work in Privacy?

top 5Often, when asked what I do, the person is totally flummoxed when I respond that I am a privacy attorney. Sometimes, they will even ask – what does that mean? Well, if I said I was a contract attorney or a patent attorney, they would understand, right? It means I handle contracts or patents – or specifically in my case, I handle privacy.

Ah – that’s the problem, they don’t understand privacy. I mean, seriously, how do I find enough work to fill 40 hours a week?

Privacy is the concept that information about ourselves is only shared to individuals/companies  whom we want to know those things about us.

Simple, right? Not so much.

So why would anyone want to work in privacy? All day long, every day, the whole year, for decades, we fight a battle that few people ever see. It’s like starring in a vampire drama – there’s a fight happening in a world that most people don’t see and would not believe. And like vampires, we typically work in the dark, our emergencies happen at night, and we live off a critical element that is very personal to people….data. And to most of our colleagues, we’re the boogie men who come to steal your profits while you’re sleeping (or when you’re bad).

So why work in privacy?

My top five reasons:

  1. I’m such a geek rebel that I C# and bleed java. I am building a complete Padme parade dress costume for ComicCon. My UAV isn’t even registered. I speak in movie quotes. And Sheldon is my hero. Bazinga!
  2. Unlike most corporate attorneys, I may work for the company, but my job is to protect the little guy. I always did go for the underdog – I liked Tom Wopat not John Schneider and I preferred Larry Wilcox to Eric Estrada. I may look like a heartless corporate attorney, but really…I’m all squishy inside.
  3. The field is growing by leaps and bounds. Everywhere you turn, there is data being collected, used, shared, abused, lost, forgotten, manipulated, and more! Technology is getting smaller, stronger, and can  hold more data.
  4. The privacy field is a gender neutral one.  Perhaps because of the way it grew up, women tend to  have equal pay and leadership roles.
  5. My ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) has free reign! I am  never bored; I can work on 46.3 projects at a time; and given how fast the field changes – if I don’t like something, it is likely to be different tomorrow.

Being a privacy professional is a calling for certain people and requires flexibility, rampant curiosity, thick skin, and a relentless gift for persuasion. If you don’t love it – don’t get in it. It is not a profession for those seeking glory or an easy desk job.

Stretch Yourself

stretch yourself

photo courtesy of Marc Scott 

What we think determines what happens to us, so if we want to change our lives, we need to stretch our minds. ~Wayne Dyer

Have you ever really thought about what it takes to stretch yourself? Physically, we understand this. But what about our minds, our dreams – a mind and a dream in motion stays in motion as well as a body does.

This wonderful blog by Ron Edmonson provides seven ways to stretch yourself as a leader:

  • Read something different from what you normally read.
  • Hang out with people not like you.
  • Move forward on something with uncertainty.
  • Attempt something you’ve never done.
  • Spend more time on opportunities than on problems.
  • Schedule and discipline time to dream.
  • Stay physically active.

When you consider each of the points, they apply to more than just being a leader. They apply to life. But go further – step outside your comfort zone and reach for something that is a little beyond your limits.

Professionally, reach for that dream job, but do so in a deliberate manner. Reach out to your heroes. I just read an article about a young entrepreneur who encourages her team members to do that – reach out. It’s only an email. It may be ignored and it may yield amazing results!

Personally, take a chance. Now, this doesn’t have to be take a chance with your life or your love – although it may turn out to be just that. Rock climbing is certainly dangerous, as is skydiving, driving a racecar, climbing Mount Everest – but if that is your dream, reach for it in a deliberate manner. Prepare yourself properly. In love, well, I met my husband online and we married within 6 months. 14 something years later – still going strong. And that was a chance for me as I survived two abusive marriages. I felt I was putting my life at risk to try for love one more time, but I stretched myself and had unfathomable results.

Stretch yourself. Reach for that dream – be in personally, professionally, or physically. With all things, prepare yourself properly. And it is scary, most things worth winning don’t feel really comfortable in the effort. Maybe you take baby steps – maybe you throw all in and dare the fates (not legal advice here!!), but challenge yourself to do one thing every day that stretches you in some way.

Every day. Read the news (that’s a stretch for me). Ask the janitor’s name. Give a flower to a stranger. Shake a cop’s hand. Let the other person go first at the 4-way stop. Little things.

Plan that dream vacation and determine how to get there. Apply for that once-in-a-lifetime job. Email your hero. Start that book – chapter 1.

If you want a raise or a promotion, talk to your boss and make a plan. Find out if you have opportunity where you are. Ask to be in on a big project. Identify an issue that needs to be addressed and formulate a plan. Never take a problem to your boss unless you have  a proposed solution as well. Try for a certification. Submit a panel for a conference proposal.  Sit at a table with people you don’t already know. Stretch yourself.

Reach for the moon and if you miss, you’ll still land among the stars!

Teachers gone Wild: Lifestyle Privacy

Many public sector employees are held to higher standards than the average person due to the nature of their position and their potential influence on other people. Should they be? Is this discrimination? Is the discrimination justifiable?

bad teacher

courtesy of sony pictures

At times, we see a morals clause used to address potential misbehavior. A morals clause is a contract provision, typically used in relation to public figures (athletes, acting, news and political personalities) that prohibits the employee engaging in certain acts. These disallowed acts may include inappropriate sexual acts or drug use, but can include requirements that the employee “dress neatly in public, to conduct himself according to the highest standards of honesty and sportsmanship, and to refrain from doing anything that would be detrimental to the best interests of the team or league” (for further information, please see this article).   Engaging in social media insults of one’s employer could fall within a morals clause, but would not be something the typical employee/employer would encounter – although it is becoming more common for executives.  This, however, completely aside from the National Labor Relations Board’s decisions and guidances on social media policies.

Additionally, there are still certain career fields in which the employees are seen to be role models to our youth. One example of this relates to the private lives of teachers (see this story on a kindergarten teacher fired for nude photos). Before the advent of social media, teachers’ private lives were more easily separated from their professional lives. While being subject to public scrutiny may not be new, having one’s personal life so easily available is relatively new, as is facing severe repercussions from them (and this does not acccount for the egregious phenomena of impersonators).  Courts have taken two avenues to evaluate whether a teacher’s private actions are subject to employer review: a public official view or a student-speech view (whether the speech would substantially interfere with the educational duty) (Miller 2011).

Miller states that “[t]here are basically four types of internet speech that could put at risk a teacher’s relationship with his or her school district: 1) befriending students on social media sites and communicating inappropriately with them, 2) criticizing the district, school, students, parents, or the community online, 3) posting what school districts may deem as inappropriate photos  or comments (usually things that are sexually explicit or that promote alcohol or drug use, and 4) commenting on political or social issues.”  Teachers may see more disciplinary action and control if their private-life postings are viewed from a perspective of being a public official and in a position of trust than if considered whether their posting substantially disrupt the educational duty.

The question that we face is “Is this right?” Is it okay to restrict a teacher’s private life because we feel that they should be held to a higher standard than other people? What about cops, firemen, nurses, doctors, lawyers, preachers, etc.? More specifically – or more generally, I guess – is it fair to hold anyone to a certain standard in their private life as long as the behavior is not illegal?

Which brings us to lifestyle laws (more appropriately called lifestyle anti-discrimination laws, but for the sake of brevity and ease of conversation, I will call them Lifestyle laws). Lifestyle laws prohibit discrimination against someone at work based on their personal lifestyle choices – and in most cases, this is directed towards risky health behaviors, such as smoking, as applied to health insurance premiums through one’s employer.  In many states plus the District of Columbia, employers are prohibited from banning employees from smoking off work premises. Plus, twelve states protect the use of any lawful product during non-work hours, such as alcohol or even unhealthy foods. Currently, only California (CAL. LAB. CODE § 96(k)), Colorado (COLO. REV. STAT § 24-34-402.5(1)), New York (N.Y. LAB. LAW § 201-d(2)), and North Dakota (N.D. CENT. CODE § 14-02.4-03) have comprehensive protection statutes that protect employees for any lawful activity outside work.

Not only do the various state laws differ in what behavior they protect, but courts interpret them differently. Once you mix in social media, it’s a circus out there! People should be free to do what they want to do within legal boundaries and laws should not be required to permit people to do so. Good googli moo.

Keep in mind that there are federal laws (Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964) against discrimination of protected classes and disabilities (Americans with Disabilities Act)- so lifestyle laws are in addition to any protection under these areas. Plus, in general, government employees are protected by equal protection and due process clauses of the federal constitution.

I leave you with this thought – are we as a society free to engage in lawful behavior even when it indirectly impacts others’ lives (such as higher health care costs)?

 

teaching, learning, doing,& dreaming

It’s been a dream of mine to teach college or more correctly, simply be involved with college students at some level. See, right out of law school, I worked at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. It was not named after that glorious woman when I started, but I was there during the renaming.

teachI’ve had this dream and as I write this entry, I have to wonder how this sounds. Do I think I am so great that I should have the chance to influence others? Or is it that those cannot do, teach? Not so narcissistic as the former and not so incompetent as the latter. Or so I hope.

I feel in love with the relationships one builds with students – how they change and grow, how they learn, how one small thing can change their lives and they can go on to change the lives of others. Yeah yeah. I’m a dreamer. But I truly believe in the power of people and only people can change this world. And we need all the people in this world to be part of the change – if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem, right?

I mentored a fabulous young man, Juan, starting when he was in 5th grade until he finished 8th grade. We stayed in touch and he came to live with us later to go to college. We had a conversation about why going to college was important when he could get (and he had) a job he loved that paid him well. It’s not about the money, it’s about the ability to participate actively in the governance of your community. Civic engagement. Now, that can happen at all levels, but in this nation, we have a huge problem – most leadership positions are held by a rather homogenous group. We need minorities and women to be equally represented. Until the leadership of this nation resembles that of its people, we will continue to experience the consequences of non-representation.

I had left academia due to my husband’s job and have been trying to get back to it ever since. Few colleges want to hire in someone who has been in the corporate world (and the pay cut is hard to take in order to work one’s way up the ranks), so my options are to volunteer and/or be an adjunct professor. (Now, if there is anyone with a college or university reading this – trust me, I am so worth the seeming risk. It’s my calling.)

This past year, my dream started coming true.  I am now teaching an online course in fundamental law to master’s students and an in-person course on privacy (big data and emerging technologies). And oh my goodness, the students are so worth it. I love the engagement, the discussions, the worries and questions. And I love having both populations of students: online grad students and in-person. Funny, I never considered that my in-person would include undergrad students, but it does! How cool is that?

I’ll never be a scholar (despite my PhD efforts) – I am not so eloquent or studious. I am a practitioner and a very practical one at that. I have the opportunity to combine my two loves – privacy and students. And for now, I am in hog heaven. good googli moo

 

RN2JD: What being an RN taught me about being a Privacy Attorney

nurse scales

Nursing school is harder than law school. Seriously.

As a nurse (and a nursing student), you really do have someone’s life in your hands. As an attorney, some may argue that you do, but you really don’t. There are many failsafes built into the system.

As a law student, I rarely took my books into the house. No, I did not read for class. (and yes, I still did really well in my classes). As a nursing student, I lived, breathed, and sweated with my books.

Being an RN has helped me be a better privacy attorney. I was an oncology, hospice, clinical research, cardiac, and unit (ICU/CCU) nurse. Here are the top ten ways being an RN helps:

  1. Stay cool in an emergency.

When there is an emergency, you need the quarterback (usually the one who knows the most, like the doctor), you need the experienced nurses, and you need a recorder – someone who documents what was done when.  You don’t need someone who loses their head. One must be knowledgeable, experienced, fast, decisive, and accurate.

  1. Check your work twice or three times and have a witness when it is critical.

Sometimes, something is just important enough that you need to not only check your work, but you need someone to check it for you – and perhaps even go on record that they have done so. In both professions, this seems to happen more at the start of your career, but there are many times that it is still needed for an experienced professional.

  1. Use your time wisely.

Do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done. And if a meeting is required, have the right people in the room – and don’t waste time.

  1. Weird things happen at night and during the full moon.

Be prepared for anything. This is not an urban myth. If something weird is going to happen or something is going to go tragically wrong, it will be at night or during a full moon. People act differently. Those in comas may wake up. Those who can’t move, start dancing. It’s just weird. Be prepared for weird. Take it in stride. Manage your business.

  1. Document. Document. Document.

Enough said.

  1. Be an advocate for those you serve and to those you serve.

Those you serve don’t always know what they need and are not always rationale, be they patients or clients (or family). People tend to set their sights on something and that something may or may not be right for them. At times, you have to advocate for their wishes when it is something you don’t personally believe in, but your job is to advocate ethically for the one you serve. Other times, you have to advocate to that person when what they want, what they really really want, is not the right choice or the smart choice. Sometimes the wrong choice is what they select and despite your best advice and guidance, it is all they can see. Sometimes, it hurts to see that choice made, but you are not them. There have been times when I have had to advise a family and I cried doing it. It was a painful choice, but the right one for the person affected who could not speak for him/herself.

  1. Fight to win.

When you are going in to fight an enemy, pull out all of the stops within legal and ethical boundaries. Be creative. Attack on multiple fronts. Identify what is most important and fight for that, even if it may not seem like winning to others. Put all you have into winning and at times, be willing to redefine what winning means.

  1. Root problems may not be seen, but cause just as much damage.

You may not see the disease that is growing and causing issues. Until you realize it, you must fight the symptoms and not the cause. Sometimes that is all you can do, but along with treating the symptoms, keep looking for the root cause. If you can find the cause, hope that it is curable. If it is not curable, then look for what you can do – reduce it, contain it, something. If however, you cannot find the cause, then fix the symptoms – alleviate the suffering and prevent complications. In law, this applies to people as well as processes. You can always tell when there is a problem, you just don’t always know where the root of that problem lies.

  1. Just because you love what you do, doesn’t mean you love every minute of it.

I loved being a nurse.  I even loved being a hospice nurse and more about living during that time. But I did not love every minute of every day. Same with being a privacy attorney. I love what I do. I am very passionate about it, but I don’t love every minute of it. Sure there are frustrations and problems.  If, however, the negatives started outnumbering the positives, I’d have to find something else to do.

  1. Things are done a certain way for a reason.

Some may not still be warranted. Don’t be afraid to question them, but don’t question them just for the sake of argument. In nursing and in law, there is a reason for traditions, norms, expectations, policies, practices, and processes. Some of this is general across the profession and some is localized to your region or employer. Don’t come into a new place and start shaking it up without sizing it up.

Bonus: When you get the answer you want, shut up.

Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Open Letter to Facebook

Disclaimer: a privacy person at Facebook was in touch with me through mutual friends, but at this time has merely reiterated the request for ID. Hopefully, she is working back channels to help.
letter to fb
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has posted an open letter to Facebook about the social media’s authentic name policy. You can sign this open letter on that link.

“Even though Facebook claims it has improved its policy, users continue to get kicked off the site, losing access to support groups, an essential political platform, and all their contacts and content. Some users have even had accounts reinstated with their legal names, putting their safety at risk.”

This resonates with me on so many levels, especially the loss of access to support groups. I use one support group for my autoimmune disorders and it’s on Facebook. In addition to losing the connection with so many people in one convenient spot, I lost the one support group that truly helped me make it through life’s challenges. Good googli moo! I just admitted that social media is truly a worthy endeavor.

Here are the demands:

• Commit to allowing pseudonyms and non-legal names on your site in appropriate circumstances, including but not limited to situations where using a legal name would put a user in danger, or situations where local law requires the ability to use pseudonyms.

• Require users filing real name policy abuse reports to support their claims with evidence of abusive behavior.

• Create a compliance process through which users can confirm their identities without submitting government ID.

• Give users technical details and documentation on the process of submitting identity information such as where and how it is stored, for how long, and who can access it. Provide users with the ability to submit this information using PGP or another common form of encrypted communication, so they may protect their identity information during the submission process.

• Provide a robust appeals process for users locked out of their accounts, including the ability to speak to a real Facebook employee.

I openly signed the letter and encourage others to do the same. If proof of identity – if real names – were so vital to social media, it would be a requirement to sign up. People would know this openly beforehand.

A variety of groups signed the letter, including the ACLU, the Center for Democracy and Technology, Digital Rights Foundation, One World Platform, Global Voices Advocacy, and Human Rights Watch. Given the incredible amount of damage that this policy can cause to people – from direct threats to indirect – one would think that Facebook would rethink this policy. Perhaps the most frustrating is that once you are blocked for their review….you cannot reach anyone there to discuss it.

To be clear: my real name is K Royal and I support social media. I loved Facebook and its potential.

signed,
Authentically K Royal