Microsoft has added a new auto correct feature to its word software that functions as an “inclusiveness checker.”
Microsoft has incorporated a feature that looks through a user’s work and determines whether the words used may offend someone. It suggests “politically correct” alternatives to benign language that allegedly offends people in the world. The feature displays a purple line beneath potentially trigger words or phrases. Fortunately, it can be switched on and off in word’s settings.
Neil Armstrong’s famous quote, upon becoming the first person in the world to step on the moon, is that he took, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. Now, according to Microsoft’s woke word suggestion, Armstrong took a giant leap forward for “humankind” or “humanity”. These perhaps seemingly innocuous changes are a) unnecessary as current formal and colloquial language is not inherently offensive and already allows for uniform communication and, b) these “suggestions” are overreaching impositions – as if, somehow, we cannot phrase words correctly and must be in line with subjectively selected politically correct terminology.
Microsoft Word has traditionally offered tools for spelling, punctuation and grammar, an editing feature that we have come to love, and expect to help us out. No additives are necessary. Let the individual think and express themselves without WokeWord interference. We can mind our own Ps and Qs and every other letter of the alphabet and the words they form.
When interviewing a potential sexual harassment complaint client, understand that this is an emotionally trying situation for her. Approaching your client with compassion and without judgment is helpful in obtaining the necessary information to determine the truthfulness (versus perception) of the allegations and viability of the case from the outset.
Once you’re potential client is comfortable and focused enough to describe the incidents that may lead to a sexual harassment complaint, we suggest you follow a prepared allegations checklist, such as the one below.
Questions to ask the complainant in a sexual harassment investigation
What has happened that you perceive to be sexual harassment?
To the best of your recollection, using his/her words, what did she/he say to you that made you uncomfortable?
Did she/he touch you? In what way did she/he touch you? Where did she/he touch you on your body?
What was said between you two immediately before the incident?
Where did this occur? If in the workplace, specifically where? Did it occur at a work-related function?
At what time of the day or night did this occur?
What was the context of the behavior? Did she/he treat it like a joke? What about his/her behavior or words made you believe that she/he was serious?
How would you describe your past relationship with him/her? How do you think she/he would describe it? If there is a difference, why is there such a difference?
Did you ever socialize (e.g., have dinner or lunch) with him/her alone or in a group?
Did you participate in the same company-sponsored extracurricular activities?
Did you ever date this person? If so, what was the outcome, and why?
How long have you known each other? Who else would know of your relationship?
Did you ever say or do anything in the past that made it clear to him/her that you might object to this behavior?
How would she/he know you object to it now? What did you say or do that would have told him/her that? Did she/he seem surprised at your response?
What is the atmosphere like in the workplace? Is there a lot of joking or teasing with sexual innuendo? Are there any sexually explicit materials on the walls or desks?
Are there many close relationships between the employees in your work group? Did your manager know about this closeness? How would she/he have known?
How has the behavior affected you? Have you had a problem with your raises, performance appraisals, and opportunities for promotions, job assignments or other aspect of work?
Have you ever raised a complaint with management? When was that, and what were the circumstances? What ultimately happened? Did you feel comfortable with the outcome?
Did you wait for any period of time before reporting the incident? If so, why? What made you decide to come forward now?
Are there any witnesses to the incident?
Did you tell anyone about the incident at the time or since? If so, who, and what did you say?
Are you aware of anyone else in the workplace that may have had a similar experience with the same person? Who is that and how did you discover that she/he had a similar problem?
What do you want to get out of this investigation? If it were up to you, what would the ideal solution be?
Do you understand what will happen next and how the investigation will continue?
Do you feel comfortable returning to your work group, or would you like us to look into alternatives for you?
After interviewing the complainant, move to speak to employee witnesses.
Cover the “who, what, where, when and how” questions first to establish a clear sequence of events. Ask for specific details of location, time, and conversations.
Then, ask for any other information they can provide that might help you find out what happened.
Did you see [the complainant] immediately after the alleged incident? What was their expression?
Did [the complainant] tell you about this incident or did you see/hear it first-hand? What did they tell you, when, and where?
Do you know if this was a singular incident or recurring?
Is there anyone else who might have information about this incident?
Request any documentation that is relevant to the investigation, such as emails and time sheets. These can help you piece together the employee’s whereabouts during the time of the incident, their behavior towards the complainant, and more.
Next week’s Beacon Bulletin will cover Part II- Keeping The Sexual Harassment Investigation On Track and Evidence Gathering and Preservation.
The Three Webs Defined As Related to L.E. Monitoring
Holiday reading: Subsequent to last week’s post regarding the use of geo-fencing and keyword logging warrants by law enforcement agencies, several readers asked me to define the various webs, i.e., the surface, deep and dark webs, as well as how they relate to l.e. monitoring of potential suspects and high-level security threats.
Surface Web: The majority of people employ Google, Bing, Firefox, Safari and like browsers. That area of the internet is called the surface or open web. It is the tip of internet that is visible to all, if you liken the internet to an iceberg. The surface web comprises only 4% of the entire Internet.
Deep web: The deep web is the portion of the Internet that is hidden and not shown from conventional search engines. IOW, it cannot be accessed by search engines; harboring sensitive and private information such as government data, bank data, cloud data (think the content of your personal email and social media accounts) etc. To access deep web data, you must go to the website, log in and locate the information within the site. Journalists and politically oppressed people internationally are common inhabitants of this space. The NYT has a permanent lockbox on this web.
Dark Web: The dark web, a subset of the deep web, refers to heavily encrypted online content that is not indexed by conventional search engines. Access requires a password, encryption, or specialty software to surf the anonymous environment as well as as a multi-layered encryption browser, i.e., TOR. This is where law enforcement concentrates its focus in that this is the area of the web in which criminals and nefarious routes reside (e.g. the Silk Road black market).
The above provides a glimpse into the enormous scope of the internet that domestic and foreign l.aw enforcement agencies must monitor. By its sheer size, unless one is labeled a probable master criminal or terrorist, law enforcement is mostly reactive in monitoring people. One would have to commit extremely egregious acts over a prolonged period of time for deep, sustained monitoring.
I say this knowing that AI tools specifically to monitor long-term have been developed and are being refined as I type. Lots to keep an eye on here.
Privacy experts are now contesting law enforcement’s two newest tools- geofencing and keyword logging. These technologies are used, respectively, to track activity within a specific geographical area (from a single home to a large neighborhood) and, to monitor specific keyword input. Combined, these two activities provide law enforcement with access to the location and personal written communication of millions of innocent people.
Lawyers and privacy experts contend that geofence and keyword logging warrants are akin to a general warrant, which is illegal under the Fourth Amendment protection of the right against unreasonable searches and seizures. These new warrant tools don’t have a specific person in mind, they simply target groups of unnamed people. Where is the probable cause against specific suspects in such random warrants?
Keyword logging warrants are potentially more far-reaching than geofence warrants because keyword search warrants are not necessarily geographically or otherwise tangibly tied to a specific crime and could make suspects out of innocent people around the nation and the world.
It’s not just the large tech companies such as Google and Facebook who are providing this personal information to law enforcement, many other smaller data providers and even apps (such as fitness app, FitBit) are fulfilling these geofence and keyword search warrants.
There’s also always the very real concern that this information will be used under pretext to target private citizens or causes. Companies like Hawk Analytics are hosting seminars, training people in the private sector as well as law enforcement on how to put together these type warrants. But no one is monitoring the use of this information. There is current legislation wending its way through Congress to protect general personal information, there is no legislative effort addressing geofencing.
A case on record now clearly illustrates the danger of unregulated geofencing warrants wherein an innocent bicyclist had to hire an attorney to clear himself as the prime suspect in a burglary case- simply for riding by the burglared house- along a route he took often while biking. Read here.
Very concerning to lawyers should be the worry that in researching cases, general keyword search warrants may be in place for anyone and everyone’s IP addresses and communication should they use certain phrases. Real case example.
We’ll update our readers on congressional action on these warrants as developments occur.
(At all times in this review, we are referring to U.S. digital presence. The European GDPR law and rules – the right to be forgotten, aka the right to erasure – will be covered in a future post.)
Every day we see articles and advertisements claiming to help you “delete your digital footprint”. We’re not here to sell you anything – we provide you with the facts and, thoroughly tested, solutions. To this end:
Fact 1 – You cannot entirely delete your digital footprint, albeit, you can have certain information redacted. (See Step 6 below.)
Fact 2 – You can modify, minimize and moderate your digital footprint.
Addressing Fact 2, we include several common sense recommendations to minimize (in some cases, remove) your unwanted or irrelevant digital references and, very definitive actions you can take up directly with the data providers to better manage your public profile.
1. Go through your email, especially the Spam folder. Identify old, nuisance or trial accounts by using keywords such as “welcome”, “verify your email” and “free trial”. Delete these accounts on the company sites.
2. Delete old emails that you no longer use. Under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, servers such as Gmail, consider email unused for 180+ days abandoned. Furthermore, the government can access these “abandoned” emails without a warrant.
3. Go to haveibeenpwned.com and find out if your email addresses, phone numbers or passwords are in hacked/leaked databases available to criminals. (This information on this site is a small representation of the personal data criminals can access.)
4. Search your user names and delete the ones you no longer use. (If you can conduct this search, so can others- and potentially learn private things about you – where you shop, your political supports, affiliated organizations, etc.)
5. Change your social media privacy settings to control who can see your posts and while you are conducting this task, delete your old social media posts. Facebook was founded in 2004. By now, that college student is in her mid-30s; the associate lawyer is now a partner or a sole practitioner and surely, many original users have their own families, so perhaps it’s time to archive the night-out w/friends pics.
6. Opt out of data provider websites. These people finder sites collect tons of personal information such as names, addresses, ages, birthdays, phone numbers, tangible assets (homes, cars) and even court records and, these records are not always inaccurate. There are hundreds of these sites in the list we’ve compiled during the course of work (and we’ve successfully petitioned the majority of these sites for client information redacted/removed or corrected).
Wireless customers may dial either 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach the Lifeline now.
Landline customers must continue to dial 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach the Lifeline until July 16, 2022.
For “988” to work for everyone with a telephone number in the below list of area codes, 10-digit local dialing (or 1+10-digit dialing for wireline customers in the area codes below with an asterisk) must be implemented. If your area code is included in the list below, you need to dial the area code for all local calls starting on October 24, 2021.
* 1 + 10-digit dialing is required for landline customers.
What do you need to do? Before October 24, 2021, in addition to changing the way you dial local calls, all services, automatic dialing equipment, or other types of equipment that are programmed to complete calls to 7-digit local numbers will need to be reprogrammed to complete calls to 10-digit (or 1+10-digit) numbers, including the area code. Some examples are: life safety systems and medical monitoring devices, PBXs, fax machines, Internet dial-up numbers, fire or burglar alarm systems, other security systems or gates, speed dialers, mobile or other wireless phone contact lists, call forwarding settings, voicemail services, and other similar functions. Be sure to check your website, personal and business stationery, advertising materials, personal and business checks, contact information, your personal or pet ID tags, and other such items to ensure the area code is included.
What will remain the same?
Your telephone number, including current area code, will not change.
The price of a call, coverage area, or other rates and services will not change due to this dialing change.
What is a local call now will remain a local call regardless of the number of digits dialed.
You will continue to dial 1 + area code + telephone number for all long distance calls.
You can still dial just three digits to reach 911 (emergency services) and 711 (relay services), as well as 211, 311, 411, 511, 611, or 811 where those services are available in your community.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can still be reached by dialing 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Will you be able to dial 988 without a prefix from a multi-line telephone system? No, you still will need to dial a prefix first when dialing 988 from a multi-line telephone system, where a prefix is required (for example, dialing 9 first from a hotel or office building multi-line telephone system).
Can you still dial 1-800-273-TALK to reach the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline? Yes, you can dial 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach the Lifeline now (wireless customers can dial 988 now too). Starting July 16, 2022, everyone can dial either 988 or 1-800-273-TALK to reach the Lifeline.
Is 988 a new area code? No, “988” is a new 3-digit code that may be used to reach the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline, starting on July 16, 2022.
To minimize confusion when dialing work and personal contacts, please distribute this information as widely possible as the compliance date of October 24, 2021 is less than two weeks away.
From the U.S. State Department: Passport Applications and Renewals:
What to Expect:
Effective September 23, routine service can take up to 16 weeks from the day an application is submitted to the day a new passport is received.
Expedite service (for an additional $60) can take up to 12 weeks from the day an application is submitted to the day a new passport is received. These door-to-door timeframes include both our processing times and mailing times on the front and back end.
Select Trackable Mail:
Send your application to us via USPS Priority Mail Express and pay an extra $17.56 for 1-2 day delivery of your completed passport. These services provide the fastest turnaround and protect your important documents
Use Self-Service Tools Online: Get your questions answered immediately by using one of the self-service tools available on our site. Check online for your passport status. Customer service representatives will not give status updates over the phone.
Planning to Travel? Apply Early! Apply at least 4-6 months before planned travel. Due to limited availability for urgent travel appointments, we cannot guarantee you can receive in-person service at a passport agency or center. We are prioritizing customers with life-or-death emergencies. We do not charge a fee to make an appointment. Visit our Passport Agency and Center page to learn more.
Appointments are Limited, Must Be Scheduled by Phone: Call 1-877-487-2778 or 1-888-874-7793 TDD/TTY from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET, Mondays through Fridays. Our appointment line is closed on weekends and federal holidays.
We temporarily disabled the online appointment booking system to ensure our very limited appointments go to applicants who need them for urgent travel. You will need wait to speak to a customer service representative to book an appointment. Learn more to see if you qualify for an appointment.
Renew By Mail: Adults with 10-year passports can renew them by mail instead of appearing in person.
*If you applied over 16 weeks ago for routine service or 12 weeks for expedited service and have not received your passport, we may have sent you a letter requesting more information. We cannot continue processing your application until you respond to this letter. Learn more on our Respond to a Letter or Email page.
We’re sure many of you will have specific questions not addressed in the above, such as, “I have a passport application pending. Can I expedite the service? (short answer, yes), so we suggest you review the State Department site should the above information not provide answers pertinent to your issue.
Rarely do I publicly recount my private experiences but this somber week, with the 20th anniversary this Saturday of the 9/11 attacks on our country, I feel moved to share a small portion of a very personal memory of that day with you.
Above, I’ve embedded a photo of one of my first pilot training log books.
The very first entry in this logbook: 2001, 9/11. I had just completed 7 Touch & Go’s, flight training out of Republic Airport, Farmingdale, Long Island, NY. We took off around 8:15 a.m. that lovely near-autumn morning. We never made the scheduled 8th T&G.
What we (flight instructor with me) saw that day remains irremovably embedded in the deepest recesses of my mind, coming to the forefront now as we near 9/11/2021. My flight instructor was a Lt., NYPD (Captain now) and Navy Reserves pilot.
From a relatively very short distance aerially, we saw an aircraft streaking across a “severe clear” cobalt blue sky. I had performed the 7th touch n go, we headed towards Captree in Suffolk County and… never made it. My instructor’s official police telecoms went off and simultaneously, the Tower@ FRG repeatedly screamed at everyone up to land immediately. In a rush to land, another training pilot cut us off within several hundred feet, nearly crashing us into the runway.
We knew immediately that we were under attack- given the level of information coming in to my instructor and, we had employees on the ground at the Federal Courthouse in lower Manhattan running towards the Twin Towers, yelling into our company Nextel two-ways along the way – telling us exactly what was happening. Chilling words that I will not, cannot, ever forget. I began calling my employees, family and partners, telling them to shelter in place – and those with children in the NYC/LI area, to pull their children out of school ASAP.
What we witnessed over the next several days remains a shell-shocked medley of sights and sounds usually only experienced on a battlefield. And, almost incoherently juxtaposed to pure bedlam, was the eerie silence we encountered along the now closed roads and highways as we made our way towards the City, in various response capacities, never imagining what we would see once we arrived at what is now known as Ground Zero.
At this point, I’ll move away from telling my story of 9/11, knowing you all have your own experiences and memories of that fateful day and offer a simple prayer, especially during these extremely challenging times today, that we may all come together again as the large, compassionate community that is our nation, and our world.
Wishing all peace and calmness in our daily lives as we strive forward in all things, ~Lina
(Please excuse fluctuating tenses in the retelling of my story- the memories, as I write, are simultaneously vivid and recessed.)
Early in January of this year, several web giants unveiled pilot programs in what effectively could become a soft social credit system before 2030. By way of explanation, China’s social credit system (in effect for seven years now) is a combination of government and business surveillance that gives citizens a “score” that can restrict the ability of individuals to take actions — such as purchasing plane tickets, acquiring property or taking loans — because of behaviors. Given the position of several major American companies, a similar system may be coming here sooner than you think.
The potential scope of the soft social credit system under construction is enormous. The same companies that can track your activities and give you corporate rewards for compliant behavior could utilize their powers to block transactions, add surcharges or restrict your use of products. At what point does free speech make someone a target in this new system? When does your debit card get canceled over old tweets, your home loan denied for homeschooling your kids, or your eBay account invalidated because a friend flagged you for a post they simply didn’t like?”
In August, PayPal announced a partnership with the Southern Poverty Law Center to “investigate” the role of propagators of “anti-government” rhetoric, subjective labels that potentially could impact a large number of groups or people using their service. PayPal says the collected information will be shared with other financial firms and politicians. Facebook is taking similar measures.
Peer pressure, trendy causes and movements, and the ability to comply with the new system with the click of a mouse combine all of the worst elements of a society more dependent on their social media profile than is healthy. As it grows in breadth and power, what may be most surprising about our new social credit system won’t be collective fear of it, but rather how quickly most people will fall in line.
If you’re in a business partnership or a longstanding working relationship that isn’t working, ask yourself the below questions. Then, if you need to change or end the partnership, we’ll provide you with a short to-do checklist towards that end.
A client, we’ll call her Linda, had a business that was struggling financially and operationally. She was totally disgusted because her partner of several years was no longer carrying his weight and didn’t seem to understand the gravity of the situation. She was stressed at the continued havoc that this partnership was causing in nearly every aspect of her life.
What to do? She realized that her first commitment had to be to herself. Linda had to take command of this situation. She decided she wanted to give the business and her partner one last chance.
She created Job Roles for herself, her partner and each of her staff. Because of the longstanding relationship between her and her partner, they agreed it was best if a qualified consultant meet with the partners to present things as they were up to this point. NOTE: Using a third-party (like an attorney or mediator) can offer a different, often more helpful, perspective to a known problem.
The partner was cordial and listened politely, as had been expected. But, he didn’t really get it that things had to change. Linda gave it four months under the new plan. Unfortunately, she had to bite the bullet and make the decision to end the partnership. Linda realized that with several changes to the business operating methods, she didn’t actually need a partner. She had been carrying the business alone for several years anyway.
If you can answer yes to one or more of the following it may be time to take command of your business and make the necessary changes.
You’re feeling like you’re carrying more than your share of the work.
Your partner seems to have lost interest in the business.
You find more and more to disagree about.
There have been changes in your partner’s life that are interfering with his ability to function in the business.
Your interest in the direction of the business is different from that of your partner.
In Linda’s case, she had been performing nearly 100% of the work towards the end of the partnership, her partner had been unfocused for quite a while and he had allowed an enormous amount of drama occurring in his personal life (ex-wife divorce and child custody issues, an inexplicably rapidly formed new relationship, losing decades-long friendships with several close friends, etc.) to spill over into the business. Although well-experienced with personality changes in people, the level of disconnect that the partner had to the business and the welfare it provided for Linda and other employees was shocking even to us.
Finally, he made the gross mistake of insisting on hiring his unqualified new girlfriend – in a position that required unimpeachable skills and confidentiality. That’s when Linda finally realized that the partnership was truly over. He’d simply lost his perspective on the type services that the company provided – those requiring absolute trust.
Here are the steps I suggest you take if you’re seriously considering making changes to your partnership arrangement:
1. Review your Partnership Agreement.
Your partnership may exist in the form of a partnership or a corporation. Either way, you have a legal entity that binds the two of you.
Have your attorney review your documents and tell you exactly where you stand from a legal perspective. This is important so you will know your limitations as you begin to plan.
If you have a written agreement about roles and responsibilities for each of you, assess whether it is still appropriate or needs to be updated.
2. Decide and document exactly what you want for your business and yourself.
Being in a state of dissatisfaction is the spur that will get you to take action. But you don’t want to take action until you’ve thought through exactly what you’re trying to achieve. Consider probable and possible outcomes for different scenarios to help you finalize a plan.
3. Create and write a plan to accomplish your goals.
The most positive thing you can do is create a plan for yourself and the business as you see it and be prepared to present that to your partner. If dissolving the business is in your plan, be prepared with both the reasons you want to leave…and what you plan to do in the future. You’re not just leaving the business; you’re going into something else.
4. Schedule a time to “talk business” with your partner.
A change of venue from your typical meeting place might be helpful. Sitting down over lunch or coffee could be a good place to start.
Be prepared for whatever response comes back to you. It can be anywhere from thankful to downright hostile. It will likely require some time for your partner to think through the ramifications of your proposal. Be forewarned; it’s very difficult for people to make changes unless not making changes will jeopardize something of value to them. The bottom line is you don’t want to back down from what you want. Compromise only if you’re still OK with the terms.
If your partner is looking for an excuse to blame you for the ills of the business, you may hear about it when you bring up the subject. I know it’s tempting, but be careful not to get into a blaming match. The objective is to present what you want for the business and yourself, and your plan to make it happen. Outlining how you see their role in the business is totally appropriate. Then it’s up to them to agree or respond with another suitable option.
5. Be willing to walk away.
If you cannot come to terms, or if you do and the partner does not keep his agreement, you must be prepared for a change in business status. You may decide to close the doors, sell the business, sell your share to the partner, buy him out or any other option that will allow you to move forward with YOUR plan.
We all know it’s not easy to give up on something you’ve worked so long and hard to achieve. It’s a lot like a marriage that’s gone bad. At some point, however, you have to make the decision not to be the victim of circumstances any longer and make your move to position yourself for a better future.
On a final note: have a thorough asset search (personally and professionally) conducted. Linda found out that her now former partner had actually not followed through on many business aspects she’d thought performed and had also converted important assets to himself.