Microwaves, wiretapping, and genetics

Thanks to a friend and colleague, Prof. Gary Marchant at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at ASU, I was invited to join Gary and Caroline Lynch to speak with 3TV’s Politics Unplugged’s Dennis Welch on March 19, 2017.

The questions were on three main topics…

It was quite lucky that each of us has recently researched or worked with one of these topics respectively.

Caroline took the first issue on wiretapping and discussed the relevant laws and historical context. It is possible, but it is unlikely that Trump was targeted directly.

On genetics, there is a bill working its way through Congress that would permit employers to collect genetic information, in this case related to wellness programs. Unfortunately, under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act  of 2008, genetic information includes information about relatives, which is standard information doctors ask during physicals – do you have a family history of heart attacks, high blood pressure, cancer, etc.

On microwave spying – well, that one came to me.  Microwaves are not typically equipped with cameras and microphones, but they could be and the average consumer – or heck, even the sophisticated consumer – would not know it. In fact, in 2016, a hacker used a series of smart toasters to take down multiple major websites. It’s possible, but unlike Samsung TVs, not likely.

My favorite quote in the entire video is when Dennis asked for our last words of wisdom. Yours truly announced that we’re not paranoid if it’s really happening…

For the full video, watch here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cX5UYk19Uhc&t=36s 

(and no, no one warned me that there was no table. they were in process of moving studios…so knees together, ladies!)

Executive Women in Privacy – my recollections and reflections

This past weekwip,  I had the privilege to speak on a panel with three amazing women, Ruby Zefo (intel), Sharon Anolik (Privacy Panacea), and Debra Bromson (Jazz Pharmaceuticals) – moderated by Lourdes Turrecha at the inaugural Privacy+Security Forum in DC. Our topic: Breaking the glass ceiling – executive women in privacy.  We have all been to other presentations on this same or a similar topic, so we were determined that we would present candid, authentic, and hopefully inspirational content. I did not take notes, so we are relying on my admittedly poor memory to bring you the best of what I took away – without attribution to the speaker in an effort to preserve the safe environment.

Challenges we faced and how to overcome them:

In privacy, whether staffed in the legal department or not – it is hard for others in the business and in legal to comprehend the impreciseness of our area of law. Privacy means complying with laws/rules/regulations. We all happen to be attorneys, but privacy executives don’t have to be lawyers. Privacy is a fluid, rapidly developing, and capricious field. For us, we have faced the same challenges that most women in law face. We have faced people not knowing what the heck we are doing or aiming for. We have faced the typical challenges of working in male-oriented fields – technology, medicine, etc. And that is a situation that women in privacy face whether they are lawyers or not.

Best advice

  • Be flexible. Be creative.
  • Be business savvy.
  • Demonstrate your value. Toot your own horn.
  • Do not waste 30 seconds in an elevator with the CEO cracking a joke…be prepared with a recent accomplishment to share that contributed to the company.
  • Bring yourself to work, but keep it professional.
  • Be authentic.
  • Leave toxic environments.
  • If you are meeting with executives, be an executive presence. If you are meeting with IT, dress to fit in. You don’t have to agonize over it, but impressions count. Do they see you as one of the gang? Don’t set yourself above them just to make a point.

Is the privacy field an equal playing field for women?

In most part, yes. Some of us have not really seen the inequality in our privacy area, but it still exists within the company. We have met the “Queen Bee” – that woman who rules the roost and is unwilling to help others or share the limelight – but not really worked with such people in privacy. Okay, well, maybe we did, but it’s old school and we managed to change the situation.

In general, our technical counterparts are typically male. Learn to work with them. And in most cases, form a bonding relationship where there is mutual trust and respect (mine was my “at work husband”). Don’t be afraid to ask them to “dumb it down,” but also don’t be afraid to challenge them.

We are often still the only woman in the room. I am unapologetically feminine and proud of it. It does not mean that I am inferior. And we certainly don’t help ourselves with apologizing for being women – which is what we do when we act as if we expect to be treated as inferiors. Do we have to prove ourselves? – yes. But we already earned the position, so we deserve it. which leads to the….

Imposter syndrome

Do we feel like imposters? I do, just sitting on this panel. I am ambitious. I have been an executive and also not an executive – and not in a linear path. I have taken jobs that were a step back in rank in order to step up in expertise. All four of us came from different perspectives, but in general, the tone was that we have earned what we have. It may be a tendency of women to think that we have somehow been put in a position that we don’t truly deserve, but that is our own self-doubt and not something that anyone pushed on us.

When given more responsibility, one women faced quite a few people who asked if she was okay – was she going to be able to handle it? Her response – if I were a man, that person would have said congrats, it will be tough, but you have already shown that you can handle such responsibility. And she told him so.


The points to take away from this panel were that we are accomplished, qualified professionals who happen to be women. We face unique challenges, but being confident in your talents and skills will take you far. How to take that next step? Volunteer. Network. Don’t be afraid to stand up or stand out.

Be unapologetically you. As long as you are not a serial killer.

Go beyond Talking Heads: How to build a panel presentation that Pops

Wanh. Wanh. Wanh.fireworks

No matter how interested you are in a topic, talking heads start sounding like the teachers in the Charlie Brown cartoons. Sometimes, the panel can even put their audience to sleep.

Most people who speak at an event choose to do so – meaning that they have a message that they want to share. I am not a professional or fabulous speaker, but I do speak on occasion at the typical talking heads conference. And while you cannot please all of the people all of the time, there are some basic tips that can improve just about any panel presentation.

My ten top popping panel tips:

1. Create a diverse panel
Whether the diversity is in gender, sector, perspective, opinion, race, title, role – whatever – make the panel diverse. Give the audience someone to whom each one of them can relate.

2. Be creative, but keep it within limits
There are ways that even talking heads can present the same material, but creatively. I have participated in presentation based on the dating game, family feud, a political debate, and more. Recognize that not everyone in the audience will relate to creativity, but the overwhelming majority will like it.

3. Get organized before the presentation
Get on the phone. Speak to each other. Know who is going to change the slides. How will the chairs be organized? Determine if you want to sit behind a long table. Will you rise to speak at a podium? How will you handle too many questions and comments? How will you handle none?

4. Appoint a control person
Someone needs to be in charge of keeping the presentation moving. This should and could be done with ruthless charm. You can disclaim at the beginning how you will handle questions and comments. If time starts running short, the control person can keep it moving.

5. Do a true dry run
You may have everything planned out, but a true dry run – a real one – (cannot emphasize realism enough) should help ferret out problem areas, such as a long-winded speaker.

6. Speak to the slides, rather than read from them
There is not much worse than a presentation with paragraphs of material on each slide. Ugh. The audience will be reading them and not listening. You should have impactful slides that you can easily speak to. You can develop substantive material to submit for continuing education credit, and inform the audience that such material is available, just not what they will see in the panel presentation.

7. Stay on time and on point
Often, panelists have no say in the topic, title, or description of presentations. Yet the audience chooses that session based on those. Panelists should ensure that their presentation lives up to what is promised. I hate walking away from a presentation not having learned what was in the description. For the time, see #4 above on control person.

8. Interact with each other
Have a point person on each topic and interact. Whether in agreement or disagreement, the panelists should interact. Please do not separate the program into evenly divided topics and let one head bobble for ten minutes. Have fun. If you don’t, they won’t.

9. Have questions teed up
Seems basic. Is basic. Do it.
It’s pretty disheartening to save ten minutes for questions and there are none. You can announce at the beginning that although it is a safe environment, anyone who doesn’t want to raise his/her hand can submit questions electronically (in the manner of your choice). If you don’t address the questions during the session, you will at the end.

10. Engage the audience

ERMAGOSH – my 2008 Phoenix FBI Citizens Academy Graduation Speech

This was the speech – nearly verbatim – from my 2008 Phoenix FBI Citizens Academy. I am positive that a few words were changed in the delivery. Janet Napolitano, Arizona’s then governor was the “professional” speaker. I was the highly honored elected student speaker.

the Phoenix FBICA class of 2008

the Phoenix FBICA class of 2008

Thank you

When we were told that I had been elected the class speaker, I was deeply honored and deeply troubled – there was some talk about using the redneck as target practice.  I must remind you that I am a business invitee of a commercial venture participating in the specific activity for which I was invited…in other words, I expect FBI agents to throw themselves in the line of fire.  Heck, someone could be on a hill a mile away with a 50 caliber.  I guess I’d better speak quick.

I am honored and I must say a few thanks. Scott is one of the few people I tried to talk into going to law school – and who has done an amazing job in the two years since.  Connie, thank you for your support and encouragement that helped get me accepted.

I am a member of an incredible citizens academy class, we have made history this year. This is the 100th year for the FBI, and we have the first foreign citizen in the classes – and a Canadian consul no less.

About 15 years ago, the counterintelligence team was sitting around a table complaining about the lack of resources to maintain surveillance on their top 40 people.  So they decided to get them all together at the same place at the same time – every week.  It was so successful; they have done it every year since.  Welcome to the Citizen’s academy – and its alumni association!

I think it was the fourth class when we were listening to the guest from the US Atty office.  SAC John Lewis came in and made an announcement.

“Ladies and gentlemen.  Do you recall when we explained that there are times when our suspicions of a person rise to the point that we can get a warrant.  Sometimes these are a sneak and peek  – we have to get in quickly while they are gone and see what is there.  Other times, we have enough reason to be able to take their computers or something with us.  Well, today, we have an unexpected occurrence.”

I was thinking “Oh crap, they found my 4000 pictures of porno.”  And I wasn’t the only one.  We’re a scary class.

No, we’re safe – for now.  It was the DC guy who comes to ensure they follow all protocols and procedures for collecting and handling the evidence.  It was an unplanned visit and so we had an unexpected treat.

The whole program is like that.  We learn so much that many of us never imagined.  But that’s the purpose.

You – the FBI – stand on a wall.  You stand on a wall we don’t even see.  And whether your weapon is a semiautomatic, a keyboard, or a credit card to pay for lunch for a Mexican official – you use that weapon with precision and effectiveness.

We’ve learned so much.

We learned that Hostage negotiators don’t lie. And that polygraphs are a scientific tool that could test that for us.

We learned no one is safe online.  No one.

We learned that there are some agents here who have never kissed a girl – but they can quote star trek episode 138.

We learned that military recruiters cheating on tests are never simple cases or cheap to solve.   Seven steps from the ASVAB to airplanes and border incursions.

And we learned that sharphooters do NOT use red laser sights.  How could they possibly tell which one is theirs?

Speaking of which –

These agents have hearts of gold, nerves of steel, and a dead-on aim.  I would have no problem sitting in a chair when the SWAT team takes a building.  

And what can we do with our newfound knowledge?

  • We can support our officers when we hear of a shooting.  We understand the actions and reactions called for in such situations.
  • We can make sure pot never becomes legal – it finances the drug cartels.
  • We can maintain a degree of suspiciousness if we see something “just not right” at work or in our neighborhoods.  Leads do come from everyday people.
  • We can defend these brave men and women when the public starts attacking them when the news reporters find ONE event of the 200 other events the FBI stopped and the public never knows about. That’s doing their job.
  • We can support a bill to require reporting purchases of more than one gun (not just pistols, but all guns).
  • We can join the citizens’ academy alumni association and participate in the various events, such as baseball games, golf, and the new 5k run in the fall.

So what do we take away from this unforgettable experience – How are we changed?

  • No more road rage.  There is no need.  When some idiot cuts you off in traffic.  Just say to yourself.  “I know people.  I can arrange to have you killed.”
  • We can talk the talk.  The SAC did a CIA on the ERT and found H&K MIA on the Legat with MS13.
  • And we can walk the walk – just not 90 degrees horizontal off a building face first.
  • We get to show our shirts with FBI and our nifty bags and people treat us nice.
  • We are weapons certified.  NOT.
  • FATS is now a good thing.  In fact, we should have a FATS meeting every week.
  • And when we watch all those TV shows and movies, we can spot the fakes.  No one collects evidence in the field wearing tank-tops and stilettos.  But the superglue thing to get fingerprints is real.  and cool.  From 20 feet downwind.

So in closing.

I don’t sing, but this is so fitting.  See if you can pick up the tune.

Bye Bye. To the FBI.
We shot our shotguns at the levies and the levies were dry.
So to the agents and staff of the FBI
We say thank you for the day we don’t die.



How does one get into Speaking?

At a recent conference, I was asked by several people “How do I start speaking at conferences?”

There are several ways to do this, but to be frank, I don’t know that I ever approached the activity in a deliberate manner. I have spent some time (a short time) thinking about it and have arrived at some methods- and in no way do I mean to sound cynical at the suggestions, they truly are legitimate ones.

How to start speaking at events:

1) Be employed in a key position at a major company.
It doesn’t seem to matter if you are a good speaker or have something profound to say, if you hold a key position and your company is making headlines (good or bad), people will likely want to hear you speak. Anyone who speaks from Google, Facebook, Twitter, Target (breach-related), etc. are all draws for audiences.

2) Be a major contributor or sponsor.
Throw a little money at the issue and opportunities open up.

3) Speak after you write.
Write something significant or write a lot on topics of interest to people or the field. One of my favorite privacy professionals, Dan Solove, writes the books on privacy. I have had his books/papers on privacy in my library for years.

4) Develop a niche area.
Either through passion or expertise, develop a niche area. You’ll still probably need to write about it to establish that you have some expertise, but niche areas are attractive as long as they are relevant.

5) Become an expert.
Whether in a niche area or a broad area, if you become an expert, people will want to hear you speak. Several people come to mind on this one: Chris Hoofnagle, Paul Schwartz, Dan Solove (listed above), Christopher Wolf, and many many more.

6) Get involved. 
Join industry groups, task forces, action groups, committees. National, international, state, local, tribal. And when you join, be active and involved.

7) Be passionate. 
Get passionate about something. Speak to individuals. Write. Speak to groups. Help solve or illuminate a problem. I just heard a keynote from a lady along these lines: Danielle Citron, speaking on Revenge Porn. Another recent example was Oren Yakobovich with the NGO Videre est credere, which helps people in oppressed areas expose the oppression.

8) Solve a problem. 
or at least work on one towards a solution. Also, many come to mind, but some of the ones that stand out are Jules Polonetsky and Marty Abrams.

There are other ways to get involved in speaking, but these are the ones that stand out to me. I also recommend becoming a good speaker and I will write another entry on my perspectives on how to become a good speaker – or even a great one.