Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Alarming case of a child predator -St. Paul Pioneer Press | 12/26/2004 | Sex offender phoned kids from jail

St. Paul Pioneer Press | 12/26/2004 | Sex offender phoned kids from jail his man, while in prison awaiting trial/sentencing, cut out pictures of young children from the newspaper and called their homes. It is not the first time that an Internet-related predator tried ot prey on children form prison. Little Christina Long's murderer tried ot meet another 13 year old by soliciting e-mails from kids from prison. Sad.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Saturday, November 06, 2004

for parents - about the MPAA and the upcoming lawsuits

While we are always unhappy to see anyone sued, especially young people, the MPAA has shown an incredible amount of restraint and patience in this matter. They have developed awareness messaging delivered in movie theaters, on television and in print media. They have educated universities and colleges about the piracy issues and have helped them create policies for acceptable use of institutional computer networks. They have delivered an extensive full-page advertisement awareness campaign “You Can Click But You Can’t Hide,” and have begun programs for in-school educational efforts on this important issue. And more will come. But without enforcement actions, unfortunately, education and awareness only go part of the way.

The MPAA has convinced me that they had no choice but add lawsuits to their arsenal of anti-piracy tactics. These lawsuits are a last resort and only a small part of the whole anti-piracy campaign. Sadly, without them, many young people who are stealing motion pictures before they even hit the movie theaters, will continue to steal movies thinking that they have nothing to lose. These law suits and other enforcement efforts will, hopefully, demonstrate that they have a lot to lose by breaking the law. As important as teaching our youth to surf safely and avoid online predators and harmful content is teaching them to be responsible cybercitizens.

Few were as vocal in opposition to the actions of the RIAA as I was. I felt that they had misused a legal loophole, which has since been closed with our help and the help of many privacy advocates and Internet service providers. I also understood the confusion over music downloads, where many young people couldn’t understand why they were not sued for recording music from radio broadcasts, but could be sued for downloading music from the Internet. I wrote a guide for parents and another for teens about downloading music online. I published an FAQ addressing the confusing issues. But movies are different.

I have consistently been vocal on an important distinction between the music piracy debate and motion picture piracy.

Working with thousands of young people, we learned that all of them knew that downloading a motion picture pre-theater release is wrong and is illegal. It feels wrong as well. They don’t readily admit to movie piracy and are often ashamed to admit that they have pirated movies. Notwithstanding the lawsuits and huge awareness campaigns delivered by the RIAA, many young Internet users either don’t understand the fine points of listening versus copying, or feel as though they should be allowed to share music online. To them it doesn’t yet feel wrong, and they are open about their music piracy practices. They seek ways of not getting caught, rather than curtailing their piracy activities.

While seeking input from some of my elite Teenangels (teenangels.org) for an article being written for Information Week magazine last year about youth movie piracy, I was shocked to learn that several of the young teens from this particular teenangels chapter admitted to downloading Harry Potter before it hit the movie theaters. Unlike their discussions about downloading music online, the teens wouldn’t meet my eyes. It didn’t take much to get them to agree never to pirate another movie. And, I suspect once we get them involved in delivering their own messages, we can turn this generation around, at least as to motion picture (and eventually software and game) piracy. And, like it or not, strategic law suits are a part of the incentive package needed to turnaround their movie piracy activities.

I earnestly hope that education and awareness will be effective enough that law suits won’t dominate this campaign to stop piracy. But as parents, we need to teach our children to be accountable for their actions. We need to teach them to do what’s right, not just what they can get away with. We need to encourage them to be good citizens, online and offline. Bottomline, it’s not about technology, or even lawsuits, it’s about parenting and helping guide our children to do what’s right.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Movie Piracy, the MPAA and Teens

When Information Week ran an article about movie piracy in Fall 2003, I was interviewed as the expert on what kids were doing. I, in turn, asked my experts, my teenangels (Teenangels.org, note that teenangels.com is a porn site.) I had no idea, until then, how prevalent movie piracy was. We all know about the movie pirates selling DVDs on the corner in Chinatown and at flea markets. But few of us know about movie piracy, how it is done and where files of that size can be stored without crashing our systems. I was in that group.

I confidently asked a group of my Teenangels during one of their training sessions if they had ever heard of kids downloading movies online. All hands went up. I then asked them if any of them had ever downloaded a motion picture. That’s when I was stunned as several of my elite teens, trained by the FBI, decided to look out the window, under the table and into their laps. They looked everywhere but into my eyes. I sat down in shock. I was truly stunned.

It wasn’t the first time, and certainly won’t be the last time that my Teenangels have surprised me. But this was a new abuse issue that had gotten in under MY radar. That doesn’t happen often. But I was blindsided. The teens admitted to downloading the latest Harry Potter movie before it had even hit the movie theaters. And they didn’t have those shadowy, shot by a home video camera in the movie theater versions. They had studio prints, as good as the copy of that same movie we will be able to buy, years later.

After making them all swear that they would never ever ever ever do it again, I asked them how they did it. Most downloaded them on P2P networks, as they do music. They burn them to DVDs and store them on the enormous hard drives they all seem to have these days. And more importantly, they got them from their older brothers and sisters, cousins and friends in college.
So I went to our TeenAngels alumni, all of whom were not in college and asked them about the problem. They told me that many college kids are downloading and sharing motion pictures online. They have the new releases early enough to avoid having to pay the $10 and more per person to sit in a movie theater. And while many of the movies are shadowy in-theater shoots, many more are studio prints, director’s cuts and review copies.

They don’t have to resort to burning expensive DVDs, since the college servers are so enormous and most college students have access to large unallocated server space.

They also briefed me on the extensive efforts being expended by universities to stem piracy of music, movies and software. Acceptable use policies were rewritten warning them of the consequences of illegal downloads and media piracy. They were educated on copyright and other intellectual property issues. They had to sign agreements not to pirate or misuse media as a condition to being given access to the university networks. And some students were expelled when they violated those agreements.

All of this was the result of an educational and awareness campaign launched by the MPAA and the RIAA. But, apparently, it wasn’t terribly effective. When forced to choose between rising movie theater ticket prices and stealing a movie for your nearest and dearest 100 dorm-mates, from a college student’s perspective, there isn’t much of a choice.

The upcoming lawsuits might make a difference here. My informal polls of teens and college students shows me that many will stop pirating movies if they think they will be sued. The real problem we face is that most don’t think it will happen to them and play the odds.

So, we need to find a way to get the message across to them that the MPAA means business. They know what they are doing is illegal (see, “Movies are Different”). But it’s important that they know they could face the consequences of their actions. It’s time to get their attention.

But lawsuits alone are not the answer. The MPAA knows this and has delayed their lawsuits for many years in an attempt to educate young people. They see the lawsuits as an important, but small part of their overall campaign to stop movie piracy online.

They have several educational programs they have developed, including “You Can Click, But Your Can’t Hide.” They have delivered messages as trailers in movie theaters about the real people impacted by movie piracy. They sat back and watched as the RIAA used privacy-invading methods to force ISPs to turn over the identity of their subscribers.

It’s a great start. But we need to do more to get the kids involved. We need to get them to internalize the message of responsible technology use and respecting intellectual property rights. We need to capture their attention before they get to college and while movie piracy is still an exception not the rule. We need to use methods to get them involved in the solution, instead of only threatening them with the results. Carrots, not just sticks, need to be included in the package.

I have proposed a campaign for children, teens and college students to deliver their own anti-piracy messages in video format. After delivering our intellectual property education, they would find the message that resonates with them and their friends. (We have learned that finding the right message on anti-piracy is like ordering from a Chinese restaurant, one form column A and two from column B. No one message speaks to all kids.) Large competitions could be judged by the motion picture studios and the winning videographers could be invited to Hollywood and their videos featured as trailers on upcoming DVDs. Electronic manufacturers and retailers, video rental outlets, and the motion picture industry unions can all get involved in the campaign. We need to make it as “kewl” to stop piracy as it is to pirate a new movie. If we reward them for their creativity, they will be more likely to respect the creativity of others.

I just ran a program for a small private school in New York, after returning from a larger event with hundreds of 4th graders in Wichita, Kansas. Both groups were appalled that their older counterparts were stealing movies online. One 10 year old even lectured me on the large damages that could be recovered in a lawsuit. (He was close. He said they could recover $250,000, but the real amount for a willful piracy of a movie is $150,000. As you may have guessed already, this boy was from New York. )

We need to get to the kids while they are young and still believe in right and wrong. We need them to remind each other of their ethical obligation as cybercitizens not to abuse the power of the technology. There’s still time to stop movie piracy and teach young people and adults alike that we should be responsible in our technology use. We should all learn to obey the law even when we think we can get away with breaking it. And our children need to be taught this as soon as possible and take this with them as they grow into, hopefully, responsible adults.

That’s the real challenge. And the MPAA should be supporting efforts like Peers2Peers.org and InternetSuperheroes.org, that get kids involved in creating and delivering their own messages of responsible intellectual property use.

There’s more to anti-piracy than lawsuits. And unless we do something about this soon, the motion picture industry and this generation of our kids will be lost. We need to get the kids on board. And if we catch them young enough, we can.

P2P or Peer-to-Peer Safety - Piracy aside, what are the other risks of P2P applications?

P2P or Peer-to-Peer Safety

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Kan-Ed Live!

Kan-Ed Live!Interested in seeing one of my programs online? This program was done for the South Central Kansas Library System on October 2004, on risk management and libariries. It also includes an appearance of Spider-Man with the 9 year olds.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

the saga and how it ended...

I had it, and finally demanded to speak with the resident manager of the Westbury Hotel, Tim. He claimed that there was nothing he could do and insisted that any recourse I had would have to be with Luxurylink.com.

That afternoon, I decided to nap and put a do not disturb sign on my door. I hear a ring and the door was immediately opened by a housekeeper who semed surpirsed ot find me there. I checked and made sure the do not disturb sign was on the door, facing the right way. It was. I asked the housekeeper why she came in anyway, and she shrugged. I called housekeeping and Tim. He defended her, explaining that many people leave the DND sign on their door by mistake and then complain that their room wasn't cleaned. No wonder this hotel is a mess. The management is utterly out of touch. I suggested that if anyone is worried that a dnd sign is on by mistake, that someone in housekeeping should call instead of ignoring the sign. Why I should be trying to teach him how to manage a hotel is beyond me. :-( But someone should.

He called Luxurylink again, and informed me that the purchase was non-refundable. He offered to give me a visit at the hotel again, on him. Even free, I wouldn't stay there again. I insisted that he do something. So he asked luxurylink to call me. They were incredible. They were also embarassed with what had gone on. Eventually, they agreed to refund a portion of the purchase price themselves to accomodate me. Tim offered to credit me for the Internet access and offered me a car to the airport.

I couldn't wait to check out, a day early, and took him up on the offer. I thought he should have done more, but, as I said I was thrilled to get out of there.

I got into the car, a limousine that had seen its better years long ago. It smelled of fuel, but the window doesn't work. Then a piece of the separator between the driver and the passenger fell off entirely. I was getting used to this by now. Until the driver hit someone from behind and shrugged when the other driver got ot and started shouting. The driver took me to American Airlines, instead of Virgin. Then went to the wrong Virgin adn finally gave up, on the fifth go round at the airport, pointing to the general direction of the terminal and telling me to find it myself.

a fitting ending...

is there a blog where people can share nightmares for traveling, and warn others off of hotels and management who don't care? If there is, let me know. If not, maybe we should start one.

back home, happily.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

The Westbury Hotel saga, part 2 - insulting my guests

tonight I had dinner plans with someone from Microsoft UK at my hotel - the now blogged infamous Westbury Hotel. She visited their website and was told that the hotel is on Bond/New Bond streets. (In fact it faces Conduit Street, not Bond/New Bond) She circled a few times, and finally found the hotel, arriving twenty minutes late.

When she approached the concierge in the lobby to inquire about me, she was directed to the lounge where we were waiting. When she mentioned the website was wrong about the address, accfording to her, he looked at her in a condescending manner and said "Everyone knows where the Westbury Hotel is...we are very famous" implying that she was obviously not well-informed (or not sufficiently sophisticated enough) if she didn't know the hotel and its location.

she was very unhappy. So was I when I heard. any pleasure in the concierge's directing her to me in the lounge (I had asked him to, if she arrived) was outweighed by her discomfort as my guest.

I will be checking out early. I've had enough.

my 2 cents.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The Westbury Hotel-Mayfair, London - the hotel that can't get out of its own way

I often write about my travels. I book them online and take them for business.
I frequent luxurylink.com and am a big fan of theirs. The trips are often very underpriced and additional perks, such as massages, are included at prices I could never book even without those perks.

I buy the trips when they come up at special prices and wait until I need them. I buy them for Rome, Seattle, London and San Francisco, since I am often there and can always use them.

I have had great results, by and large. They carefully screen the hotels and usually only the best ones are available at luxurylink.com. I have had two disaters, though. One in Rome and one as we speak, in London.

I am staying at The Westbury Hotel in London and wish I weren't. I had stayed here once before when I did my UK book tour in Spring 2000. I loved it then. The food was outstanding, the service even better. They even had my favorite shoe store in the world right across the street and the store where I buy my underwear down the block. (You know that you travel too often when you buy staples in other countries. I buy my eye glasses in Singapore, too,)

I should have known this was a problem. I bought the trip at auction (and was the only bidder). It wasn't cheap, but for what I got, it saved me money. It also included a studio suite at the price I would have booked an ordinary room in London in this neighborhood (Bond Street and Conduit).

I e-mailed them with the date requests right after buying the trip. (I bought this just for an upcoming trip I had to make for a presentation at Parliament on online safety.)

I needed to hear back right away. But no one bothered to e-mail me back.

I followed up with a second e-mail, again to the person Luxurylink.com told me to contact to set up the reservations. Still no answer. I contacted luxurylink.com and was told to call and not e-mail.

I found out the Westbury Hotel contact person was on maternity leave and they had "so many e-mails from people wanting reservations they put them aside until they could get to them" I couldn't believe my ears. I almost laughed. Almost is the operative word here.

They promised me a call back. You can guess what happened, or better yet, what didn't happen. Finally, on my next call, insisting on speaking to someone in management (this became a common activity on my part, they are now all on a first name basis with me) they confirmed my room. I went over the class of room included in the package with them. They booked it as a deluxe room, not a studio suite. I reminded them twice more.

I changed my travel dates, moving them up by one day, and found out I still wasn't in a studio suite (whatever that is anyway). Each call ended in a promise to do better next time. I was starting to feel like a mother of a nine year old.

I would have made alterative plans but had prepaid the trip and was now too close to the travel dates to rebook without confusing everything else.

I arrived at check-in time. I was taken to a "studio suite" that was dark and didn't have the promised view of Bond Street. (I frankly could care less, but wanted something that didn't look out at a wall of another building a few feet away. :-() They then offered me another room they claim was a suite, with a bed and a small sitting area at the foot of the bed. I complained, and I was told I could upgrade to a larger suite for 500 pounds a night more (about $900 at today's exchange rates). When I stopped laughing, I marched down to meet the duty manager. A nice guy who didn't really want to hear the history of the world and the Westbury Hotel screw ups, I am sure. But he listened, parked me in the lounge with a hot pot of tea while he checked out other "studio suites." I assumed things were looking up, finally. I also showed him their posting at luxurylink.com and what my package included. He seemed shocked.

He found me a lovely little suite, apologized that it didn't face Bond Street, and I settled in. I had ot call and remind them about the additional little things included in my package, each coming as an apparent surprise to them. :-(

I tried to log into the broadband service and once again had problems. This time when I tried to sign up for service, the service told me that I wasn't checked into my room. While sitting there in my room, I had problems understanding how I could have gotten a key without being checked in. I called down to the front desk. Whomever answered had no idea what I was talking about. She insisted I needed a tech engineer to fix my laptop's settings (they were, of course, fine). I had e-mails backed up relating to my schedule and needed access. it took about 1/2 hour before I was able to get service, after the duty officer rebooted the server (they said). But the service required that I reclick on IE whenever it wanted to check e-mail using outlook, and confirm every time I wanted to surf to a new page. all at the bargain price of more than $23 per 24 hour period of access. :-(

But, heck, I had high speed access, so I should't complain. I also had a US ethernet adapter on my desk.

And, to be honest, they weren't the only good things.
The food was great, consistently. But service at breakfast was a problem. Still, the food was good and the hotel lovely, especially the public rooms. A porter named Alfie, 17-1/2 years old and learning Spanish and German, was one of the nicest and most able porters I have eve encountered, so there is hope for this place.

I dropped back to the hotel after a morning at Parliament planning tomorrow's event and giving some interviews. I wanted to rest and take a hot bath. But when I got ready to run the water, I found lots of hairs (not mine) in the tub. That's when I lost it...

I will be checking out a day early, even though I prepaid for five nights. Even though it will cost me to change my flight. Even though I have things to do in town. I would have left even earlier if I could have.

Some times you need to just cut your losses and know when to give up.

so, if you are visiting England, drop by luxurylink.com and bid on the lygon arms hotel (lygonarms.com) for a wonderful restful time in front of a huge walk-in fireplace with food to die for and a spa attached. And stear clear of The Westbury...Please! But if you are a hotel owner and looking for an incredible porter, and manager-in-training candidate, look up Alfie. He's the only reason I stayed this long.

just my 2 cents.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Lygon Arms, lygonarms.com -A place away from everything and connected too :-)

I am posting this from a little hotel (a very famous one) in Broadway, England. It's in the Cotswolds and once hosted Oliver Cromwell and others famous throughout UK history. It has fireplaces in most major rooms, large enough to walk into, and incredible food and most of all, incredible people who work here. (Lygon Arms, pronounced "liggon arms" and lygonarms.com)

I have Internet access from their business office (a tiny room, with a single desk, printer and computer, and LAN access without charge) overlooking a tiny cobblestone courtyard.

I found this place in my reading about incredible historical hotels and inns in England over the years. I found a wonderful rate at luxurylink.com which included a package of room (a suite with three separate rooms), spa treatments and meals.

I arrived last night, late from my US flight (it's a long drive from Heathrow to here, about 1-1/2 hours by car). I was exhausted and needed a strong cup of tea.
The night porter (Stephen, who used to be a cabinet maker locally) managed to get me a pot of hot english breakfast tea, and a plate of wonderful sandwiches, notwithstanding the late hour (about midnight).

Parked in front of this unbelievable fireplace, in a stuffed wing chair, surrounded by antiques and in a building built about 500 years ago, I started to unwind.

Today I wandered down High Street (the only main street in town) past the most amazing stone-fronted cottages, in a world that looks like a Hollywood movie lot, but better. Flowers, trees, iron works and antiques abound.

Late morning I sat before another fire and met a retired teacher and banker out for a quiet day from Liverpool. We talked about children and fate. I finished another pot of tea, and while gazing into the fire, unwound a bit more.

Then, while getting ready to leave and wander around again, I met an American family stationed in London out for a day's drive. Wonderful children, a wonderful family and another pot of tea.

I then finally got out and walked into this tiny bookshop. The owner helped me find historical fiction he knew I would enjoy. We talked about books and life in a tiny town in perfectdom, England. We talked about the politics of book publishing, and another person in the shop joined the conversation and recommended some other books. I pulled the latest novel by the Princess of Kent out of my purse that wasn't available here yet, and we passed it around.

I dropped by the spa once more and brought one of my new books, and sat quietly in the jacuzzi. I then sat in the diningroom before (you guessed it!) another huge fireplace and crackling fire, to one of the most amazing meals of my life. The waitress (I cannot remember her name, but she is from France) decided that she could help me enjoy their chocolates and still stay on South Beach Diet, and managed ot do just that. At her suggestion (not with much prompting)I took my tea in another room before a different fire. (I was becoming quite an expert on fires :-)) Karen, the head housekeeper sat and kept me company, and brought me a second pot of tea when mine got cold.

I am sharing this all with you for no good reason other than because it was great to be unconnected for a few hours, with a mobile phone that only works if you stand under an old tree in the courtyard. :-) And how the Internet helped me find this wonderful place and a way to unwind before the Parliamentary event in a few days, and my return to London when the world starts once more. And how wonderful people are everywhere, especially in this tiny postcard size village where time stood still and caring and kindness still matters.


Thursday, October 07, 2004

Blogs and the good old days online

Although I am considered by some as one of the early Internet policy experts and an early adopted of the power of the Net to create and empower large groups of people (especially volunteers), I was actually very late to the Net. I only began using it in 1993, and started using AOL before I even knew the other technologies existed.

In 1994-5 I began running the legal discussions boards at AOL. I was an unapid volunteer, but did it becasue as a board host, I received AOL without charge. (It cost by the minute then.)I had board editing tools, where I could add new discussion boards, delete and edit others' posts, pretty much do what I wanted. It was a blast. I could start a special discussion and promote others. I was able to leave my mark on what we were doing, and it worked. Our area became very popular, and eventually Court TV cam to me and asked me to replicate this for them, which is how the Court TV Law Center was formed. We were all unapid volunteers and early pioneers of providing professional information to consumers without charge as a public and Internet service. It was was the net was born. People helping each other, sharing what they know and can do...it was fun and exciting.

Then I became mainstream. The media started following our discussions and judges would cite to our posts in their decisions. The law journals were all over whatever we did. But the more mainstream I became, the more I lost touch with the fun part of the Internet, everyone else.

I began Internet safety volunteer groups and ran them entirely online. But posting was work, not fun. And I spent time online because I had to, not because I wanted to. Instead of devoting time to jokes and learning about others, I was fielding hundreds and sometimes thousands of daily e-mails from people who wanted my advice, wanted to share their thoughts with me, wanted my help.

I knew about blogs, which harkened back to the good old days when I began using the Net and AOL. But dismissed them. "Who had time for blogging?" I wondered. Eugene Volokh, now well known in teh bloggin circles, was one fo those who hung out together with me in lawyers-only networks. We would chat about law, love and policy. Movies, music and infidelity. Being able to discourse with so many bright and well-informed people (even if they all were lawyers :-)) was so much fun.

I couldn't get enough. When in Moscow, in my now former husband's inner office, I unplugged a red phone to the Kremlin to use the special phone access to reach Counsel Connect and send posts from there. I understand Yeltsin's staff got a busy signal one time, and I denied knowing why :-).

It's truly sad when I look at 1993 and see it as the good old days. But much as changed. Now, instead of posting on AOL, I am interviewed on the Today Show or by the New York Times or People Magazine. And my e-mail responses are as short as possible to conserve my typing energy. (Everyone who reads this blog knows I cannot type or spell :-))

After a conference in June, 2004 I decided it was time to start blogging. It didn't take long for my blog to get noticed. (It doesn't hurt that I am a columnist for Informationweek.com :-)) I also became the subect of a cybersmear campaign that passed lies which were, unfortunately, picked up by bloggers thinking they were being given the truth. But, that's the nature of the Net. Good, bad, truth, lies, it's all about sharing our thoughts and ideas and opinions.

I am starting to enjoy this. It brings me back to the good old days.

I still can't type, or spell, but I am having lots more fun while doing it. :-)


Saturday, September 11, 2004

Parry's children's story, a tribute to the bravery of search and rescue dogs on September 11th- Servous The Rescue Dog, By Parry Aftab

WiredKids, Online Safety For Kids and Teens! - Servous The Rescue Dog, By Parry Aftab

WiredSafety.org and September 11

Internet Safety, Help and Education: WiredPatrol, Special Programs - September 11Our online safety group was transformed for months to help the families and the world heal. The Ground Zero Christmas Tree angels was one of our projects. Take a moment to read the tributes and pray for liberty and peace.

we remember all lost on September 11th

I am sitting here before my television watching the families of the victims of September 11th read their names. I am crying and remembering.

On September 11th I was going to be on the Rosie O'Donnell Show when the second plane hit. I was driving into the city when the first plane hit and thought (as most others did) that it was a drunk or misguided pilot. I didn't believe it when we heard the second plane had hit and we were under attack. But when they evacuated Rockefeller Center, it was obvioys that something horrible had really happened.

I had both of my children where working in NY, and I spent a hour tracking them down. I brought my daughter to my law offices and together, while I was e-mailing the Whitehouse, the FBI and my hackers, we watched the buildings collapse. It took us seven hours ot drive out of manhattan that day, a drive that usually takes 20 minutes. We watched people trudging across the 59th street Bridge covered with dust, blood and faces filled with shock and pain. Old women with canes, young men carrying babies, people walking barefoot in some cases with ripped clothing and blank stares.

The cars and trucks stopped to give them rides, and we had a case of Evian water in our trunk we passed out.

While wiredsafety.org is an online safety group, we immediately went to work providing help to the families of victims. One of our teen volunteers lost her father at the World Trade centers. We enlisted our volunteers to provide teams of help to the families of the victims. We posted their posters, helped them get through day-to-day and provided a place where generous people from across the world could send help, and items needed by the families, to them. We teamed our volunteers into gruop for our family match program, where three volunteers were paired with each family of the victims to provide warmth, caring and support 24/7.

Within three days I was at teh Whitehouse helping create programs to keep the children from hating others and from living with fear. The program was called E-Mail America, and allowed children from around the world to send messages to others in NY, President Bush and even a search and rescue dog we found, named Servous. I wrote a children's story about this brave dog, and the new puppy named by the children to take over when Servous died from the injuries he sustained at Ground Zero.

We provided the ornament angels for the Ground Zero Christmas tree with a group of generous people from around the United States, thousands of angels decorated by the old, the sick, the caring and children. I was honored ot be the one who turned on the lights and will never forget the construction workers in the dust lights, crying as they hung these fragile paper angels on the tree using Verizon's cherrypicker cable trucks.

The stories of our work and the works of others will be part of history. But none of this would have been possible without the Internet. It allowed us to reach out when phones didn't work in New York. It allowed people from around the world to volunteer their time and caring to help the victims directly, it allowed people making paper angels to reach me and have them hung at Ground Zero.

I know we should be hopeful on this day. But I am just sitting here grieving with the families, knowing we are all together in this today as we were three years ago.

The enormity of this is beyond comprehension.

but watching other mothers and fathers and children read the names and leave messages for the lost family members makes it about each one. As the names are read we are reminded that everyone is represented among the lost. Arabs, Persians, Europeans, Asians, South and Central Americans, Australians and New Zealanders, Africans and Americans, all together in our loses.

All together on something that should never happen again and should never have happened. The world grieves.
and so do I.
may God be with us all.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Get a Life!!!

Get a Life!

I have no life. And if you find yourself reading my columns late at night or on weekends, or more than once, I suspect you don’t either. There is something special about people who work with information technology. There are fewer structures in what we do, when we do and from where. We work from home, on the road, from our Blackberries and Palm Pilots. We use wireless connections in the airport lounges, at StarBucks and in hotel lobbies. We are always “on” and never fully “off.”

My best friends are virtual. Many of my relationships started that way too. I shop online, browse online and sell my leftover stuff online. I share my thoughts in blogs and am even writing that long promised cyber-suspense novel online in a blog (cyberdectetive.blogspot.com). I make dinner arrangements with my children, share driving directions with my long lost relatives and book restaurant reservations and confirm the other guests all…you’ve got it…online too!

So, when I decided that I had no life and wanted to get one, where did I turn? To the Internet, of course. I started the way I always do, using my Google toolbar. I put in “fun + things to do + New Jersey.” Not much came up, so I thought I’d drill down a bit. I’ve always wanted to learn to kayak. (Although the thought of an Eskimo-roll makes my stomach ache.) So, I searched for “Kayak + New Jersey.” But the locations were too far from home. Then I thought – “Swingdancing!” (I wasn’t exactly sure what that entailed, but that and salsa dancing sounded like fun.) But I ended up with several Fred Astaire studios. (Not quite what I had in mind.)

I went down the list of things I wanted to do “someday” using my Frankin Covey Plan Plus (for Outlook). That included pottery lessons, whitewater raft trips and floats, health spas with ginger scrubs, anyplace with a waterfall, cruises on the Windstar and exotic vacations (preferably with spas and ginger scrubs, waterfalls, pottery lessons and whitewater kayaking).

I don’t ask for much. I found a website where the person prides himself in helping others have fun. I e-mailed him and he took pity on me, and sent me some jokes. This wasn’t exactly my idea of getting a life either. I sat on Luxurylink.com for hours on end, clicking on one exotic luxury vacation auction after another. But between my speaking engagements, my friend’s wedding, and consulting obligations I couldn’t figure out how to actually take the exotic vacations I couldn’t afford anyway. I found a fake excel spreadsheet designed as a screen saver to fool your boss into thinking you are working. But since I work from home, and my kids don’t really care if I have an excel spreadsheet on my screen, that wasn’t as much fun as I thought it might be.

I surfed Amazon for awhile, and checked out everything in my gold treasure chest, passing (as always) on everything. Then using my eBay toolbar (which I couple with my Google one) I searched for arbors, fencing and a firepit. I was sure that what was missing in my life was a big backyard oasis with friends sitting around toasting marshmallows for s’mores. (You can’t get the Girl Scout out of the girl, I guess.) Instead I bought a hot tub at a great price delivered. Now for sure I couldn’t afford the exotic trips I was eyeing at LuxuryLink but invisioned lots of friends coming over and toasting each other with cold champagne in the hot bubbling water and laughing. (I had to have them toasting with champagne since marshmallows were now out of the question because I couldn’t afford the fire pit anymore.)

The hot tub looks very inviting as I sit at my computer in my home office every night. And I fully intend to strip off my Internet-umbilical cord and everything else to sit in it sometime. My only reservations are that I don’t drink, my kids would freak out if they knew I ever used the hot tub sans bathing suit and most of my friends are in England, or New Zealand, or Canada, or San Francisco or Hong Kong or Bulgaria or India. And the commute, even for a terrific hot tub experience with me is a bit long. And they wouldn’t have any idea what a s’more was, and even if they did, wouldn’t be caught dead eating one. And they don’t swing dance or salsa, although my virtual friends from Seattle do kayak!

I won’t give up though. I found a website today called funnewjersey.com, and have my eye on a hot air ballooning trip and a float down the Delaware. I can picture myself coming home afterwards and sitting in my hot tub talking about the day with my friends, over a glass of cold champagne. Or maybe rowing out to my overwater bura in Fiji or flying in on a sea-plane to that wilderness lodge in western Canada. As long as they have wireless water-proof connections so I can stay in touch with my friends and check my e-mail.

I’ll record it all in my new Palm T3, and save the urls on my Blackberry and keep the list up-to-date in my PlanPlus interface (which I synchronize with my desktop, laptop and my T3). Because someday, I’m going to get a life and I need to be prepared.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

The New York Times > Education > Internet Gives Teenage Bullies Weapons to Wound From Afar

The New York Times > Education > Internet Gives Teenage Bullies Weapons to Wound From AfarLearn about how kids target each other using technology and what we can do about it. Check out the new pre-launch pages of InternetSuperheroes.org and our cyberbullying materials.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Parry's article Cyberdating safety column > Looking For Love In All The Cyber Places > July 26, 2004

InformationWeek > Cyberdating > Looking For Love In All The Cyber Places > July 26, 2004How to cyberdate and stay safe at the same time.

Parry's InformationWeek column: Cyberdating > Dating Online: The Basics > July 26, 2004

InformationWeek > Cyberdating > Dating Online: The Basics > July 26, 2004 The basics for cyberdating novices.

Katie Tarbox and Katie.com (the book, not the site)

I first met Katie many years ago, while she was still in high school. She has recently graduated from college and will be devoting the next year of her life to helping kids who have been victimized by online sexual predators.

Katie met an Internet predator when she was only 13, thinking he was a teenage boy. He managed to book a room at the same hotel she was staying in, while she was competing as a swimmer for her school team. She arranged to visit him in his room, and the rest is a sad, but all too typical story about how young teens are lured by child molesters posing as young boys.

Katie took him to court and then wrote a book to help others avoid and handle the continued pain of exploitation and molestation. The book was called katie.com (although she doesn't own that domain name). I highly recommend the book, especially to teen girls.

When I recently met up with Katie again, I was very impressed with how well she has matured and how much she continues to care about others. While she hopes to become a lawyer someday, she wants to take a little bit more time to develop a place where kids and teens can turn to for help and support. Katie wants to create a place that cares, where kids can go to feel whole again.

While I can tell you all about the law and online privacy and security, few can really understand the pain of being victimized in the special way victims of Internet sexual predators have been- only Katie can. While as painful as many offline sexual molestations, there is a special betrayal that is shared among online victims. The victims also feel stupid, and in many cases as though they deserved what they got. They berate themselves for not seeing through the masquerade.

The studies show that at least 20% of the teens online have been solicited for sex online. But I suspect the numbers are far higher than that. And the sexual attacks of kids by Interent predators is also woefully under-reported.

Until Christina Long was killed two years ago, all of us experts thought that the typical victim was a loner. But Christina, a bubbly honor-roll cheerleader, didn't fit that description. Upon further investigation and polling, we learned that there are at least two major categories of Internet sexual victims: the loners (who had monopolized the reports until then) and the risk-takers (often competitive in school, highly successful and looking to let off steam). The former group rarely, if ever, reports the molestations. We only hear about them when they are killed or kidnapped.

Katie's dream to create a safe haven for these kids is a wonderful idea. We think it's so wonderful that we are going to help her build it.

If anyone wants to help, let us know. You can drop by wiredsafety.org and volunteer. Let them know you want to help build Katie's program.

we can use all the help we can get.


Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Spiderman and Parry Aftab: Archives: St. Petersburg Times

Archives: St. Petersburg Times

Spiderman, Parry Aftab amd WiredSafety.org

Tonight at an event held at Capitol Hill, together with Senator Stevens and other key members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, as well as Commissioners Thompson and Harbour of the FTC, Parry and Marvel announced an exciting collaboration.

Marvel has agreed to allow WiredSafety.org and Parry to use their super hero characters, including Spiderman, to help deliver their online safety, privacy and responsible surfing messages, worldwide. The program will include special comics with themes such as cyberbulling, privacy, predators and piracy. They will also include live character appearances using the super hero characters.

to learn more, visit InternetSuperHeroes.org.

Library media specialists...the secret to safe suring :Online Safety at School

Online Safety at SchoolParry's article for PC Magazine praises the unsung heroes of education, library media specialists!

Thursday, July 08, 2004

the story of how Parry transformed her group Wired News: Second Coming of Cyberangels

Wired News: Second Coming of CyberangelsBut note that the gorup is now called wiredsafety.org. Parry gave up trying to fix what is now run by the Guardian Angels. so if you want what you have read about, reach out to Parry at wiredsafety.org.

About Parry's Cyberlawenforcement.org group - note the parents group is now called wiredsafety.org, not cyberangels.

Optimize Magazine > Square Off > Should I.T. Have To Report Child Porn? > May 2002

Optimize Magazine > Square Off > Should I.T. Have To Report Child Porn? > May 2002

Parry featured in Asia's Computer Times - Technology

Computer Times - Technology

Jack Meyer's (media consultant) talks about cyberporn with Parry

WiredSafety's PSA with The Young and the Restless Behind the Scenes by Soap City

The Young and the Restless Behind the Scenes by Soap City

MNet Receives International Internet Awareness and Safety Award from Parry

MNet Receives International Internet Awareness and Safety Award | News Release

Singapore's safe surfing initiatives given Parry's award

Welcome to PAGi

Innocence in Danger- Parry's UNESCO appointment

Innocence in Danger

CyberLawEnforcement.org - WiredCops- Parry's law enforcement help group

CyberLawEnforcement.org - WiredCops

About Parry's Teenangels and their online safety program, teenangels.org

FTC privacy technology conference with Parry as a featured panelist

Parry's comments re: CIPA

Aftab email


COURT TV ONLINE - CHATNotwithstanding the typo stating that the interview is with Dr. Henry Lee, it's Parry on court tv.

Parry's COPA Commissioner testimony: note cyberangels is now known as wiredsafety.org

The program and vlunteers formerly operating under the former name is now operating under the wiredsafety.org name. The guardian angels now operate the old site.

Teachers.Net Chat with Parry Aftab

Teachers.Net Chat with Parry Aftab

The Privacy Lawyer: InformationWeek > Parry Aftab > The Privacy Lawyer: Unscrupulous Marketing Practices Of Online Porn Purveyors > March 1, 2004

The Privacy Lawyer: InformationWeek > Parry Aftab > The Privacy Lawyer: Unscrupulous Marketing Practices Of Online Porn Purveyors > March 1, 2004

The Privacy Lawyer: Parry Aftab's Privacy and Cyberlaw Site

The Privacy Lawyer: Parry Aftab's Privacy and Cyberlaw Site

ABCNEWS.com : Chat Transcript: Parry Aftab on Protecting Children Online

ABCNEWS.com : Chat Transcript: Parry Aftab on Protecting Children OnlineParry's live chat about online safety with ABC news and Good Morning America. Note that the group is now called wiredsafety.org.

Blogger: User Profile: Parry Aftab

Blogger: User Profile: Parry Aftaball of Parry's blogs. Note her cyberdetective series web novel and her privacy lawyer blog.

Family Guide Book

Family Guide BookParry's earliest online safety site, long before cyberangels or wirekids were conceived.

Parry Aftab's Privacy and Cyberlaw Site

Parry Aftab's Privacy and Cyberlaw SiteParry's main site.

MSNBC - Japan�s chilling Internet suicide pacts

MSNBC - Japan�s chilling Internet suicide pactsArticle about suicide sites that encourgae others to commit suicide, featuring Parry.

MSNBC - Cyberporn�s internal struggle

MSNBC - Cyberporn�s internal struggleArticle about the cyberporn industry, quoting Parry on child exploitation. Note that the group formerly known as "Cyberangels" is now called WiredSafety.org. The Cyberangels site is ow run by the Guardian Angels, not Parry and her volunteers.

MSNBC - What you don�t know can hurt kids

MSNBC - What you don�t know can hurt kidsBob Sullivan's article, very inciteful, quotes Parry and her book.

MSNBC - Parents crack down on Internet time

MSNBC - Parents crack down on Internet timequoting Parry

MSNBC - Government agency exposes day-care data

MSNBC - Government agency exposes day-care dataBob Sullivan's article, quoting Parry.

MSNBC - Pornographer to sell Whitehouse Web site

MSNBC - Pornographer to sell Whitehouse Web sitePornographer decides he doesn't want his son to know he's in the business, and vows ot sell his whitehouse.com adult site at auction. Article quotes Parry.

MSNBC - Keeping Kids Safe on the Internet

MSNBC - Keeping Kids Safe on the Internet A report featuring Parry and WiredSafety about protecting children and how to monitor your children's communications online.

Monday, July 05, 2004

David Winer and his blog

So many have, IMHO, unfairly attacked this man for closing down his free blog hosting service. I understand how this could have happened.

When a "good idea at the time" and "I can do it if others can't" project gets going, it often takes on a life of its own.

And sometimes real life gets in the way.

I know, in 1995 I set up AOL's legal discussions, where hundreds of lawyers would answer legal questions and provide legal information about almost any legal issue, for free.

It had all started when I started using AOL (I have told you all I am not a technology expert :-)) in 1994 and people kept asking me a/s/l in chats.

Instead, since I was looking for conversations and networking instead of cybercrimance, I would steer the conversations to what do you do and how can we help each other. After the word spread that a lawyer was hanging out in channel answering business law questions, the channel's popularity grew quickly. Since I had always been a corporate lawyer, I needed other lawyers to answer all the lease, divroce and traffic ticket questions, among others. Friends and acquaintances agreed ot help and Legal Discussions was born, with hundreds of different discussion topics. Court TV Law Center followed, when Steve Brill asked me to replicate what I had done with AOL.

All of us donated our time. In some cases it helped lawyers find clients, but in most it only created headaches with our malpractice carriers and legal ethics boards that were uncomfortable with lawyers providing answers to legal questions online and providing them to residents of other states. (Lawyers are licensed state-by-state).

I became a well-known early adopter and cyberlaw expert. But the two projects took up so much time that I couldn't take advantage of the new fame.

I suspect that the blog service was something Winer did when others weren't. Now with blogspot.com and the new race to set up the next free and easy blogging service, it isn't as important as it once was. And creating a business out of this was not what Winer had in mind.

While he could and should have given everyone a bit more advance notice, no one should fault him for wanting to live his life and get on with projects that he wants to pursue.

Sometimes volunteers online can get something going, but at some point either others need to take it over, the creator changes their life to focus entirely on this volunteer project and find ways to supporting themselves and the project or it ends.

It's hard to move on. Stop-gaps should be just that.

We should thank Winer for having donated so much for so long.


Thursday, June 24, 2004

Relying on digital electronics

I am going to have to be in Alaska on Saturday for a few days of non-profit business. I'll bring all three cell phones, my laptop and my blakcberry. Odds are that none will work very well. While they work pretty well in the urban areas, once you are out of the cities, communication becomes much harder.

I expect that I will be out of reach for a few days, except from my hotel room Internet access. Too many devices and still not enough. Sad, isn't it?

When I was in Singapore a few months ago I was interviewed by Computer Times as their first cyber-celebrity feature. The journalist looked at the assortment of devices spilling out of my purse and asked to photograph me with them. In addition to my US cell phones, I had my Palm, UK phone and my international blackberry device.

In addition to the devices, I had extra batteries for each, and plug-in chargers and adapters. Of course I also had my little Vaio, with its plugs and wires and wireless card. I was a mess.

Amy Harmon, from the New York Times, did a recent review of the Treo 600. She loved it, but thought it was a bit pricey. When Amy recommends something, I listen. So, I've been looking around for a Treo, and found some pretty good prices if I was willing to sign up for a new cell phone plan. (Verizon doesn't have the Treo yet, and that was the only plan I could renew.)

I was amazed at how few devoces there are out there. And how badly they seem to function. Most of my friends have complained about having to replace them several times in a few months when the headset or flip front breaks, or the device stops working. My son is on his fourth in as many months.

Yet, the newest hottest topic among us road warriors is how to combine cell phone, PDA and Blackberry functions into one manageable device, that doesn't break down, isn't the size of a breadbox and works. The device would have to be palm-compatible for all the software I already have and would want to use. But also have e-mail capability that is as easy as a Blackberry. It needs a keyboard function that works for those with big fingers and small fingers alike. And better web-surfing functions than Blackberry has, with attachment capability. I'd also like an expansion card.

All that and, maybe, look good too.

Am I asking for too much?

Relying on digital electronics

I am going to have to be in Alaska on Saturday for a few days of non-profit business. I'll bring all three cell phones, my laptop and my blakcberry. Odds are that none will work very well. While they work pretty well in the urban areas, once you are out of the cities, communication becomes much harder.

I expect that I will be out of reach for a few days, except from my hotel room Internet access. Too many devoces and still not enough. Sad, isn't it?

When I was in Singapore a few months ago I was interviewed by Computer Times as their first cyber-celebrity feature. The journalist looked at the assortment of devices spilling out of my purse and asked to photograph me with them. In addition to my US cell phones, I had my Palm, UK phone and my international blackberry device.

In addition to the devices, I had extra batteries for each, and plug-in chargers and adapters. Of course I also had my little Vaio, with its plugs and wires and wireless card. I was a mess.

Amy Harmon, from the New York Times, did a recent review of the Treo 600. She loved it, but thought it was a bit pricey. When Amy recommends something, I listen. So, I've been looking around for a Treo, and found some pretty good prices if I was willing to sign up for a new cell phone plan. (Verizon doesn't have the Treo yet, and that was the only plan I could renew.)

I was amazed at how few devoces there are out there. And how badly they seem to function. Most of my friends have complained about having to replace them several times in a few months when the headset or flip front breaks, or the device stops working. My son is on his fourth in as many months.

Yet, the newest hottest topic among us road warriors is how to combine cell phone, PDA and Blackberry functions into one manageable device, that doesn't break down, isn't the size of a breadbox and works. The device would have to be palm-compatible for all the software I already have and would want to use. But also have e-mail capability that is as easy as a Blackberry. It needs a keyboard function that works for those with big fingers and small fingers alike. And better web-surfing functions than Blackberry has, with attachment capability. I'd also like an expansion card.

All that and, maybe, look good too.

Am I asking for too much?

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

What do you say when there is nothing you can say?

One of my dearest friends is married to an incredible man. He is gentle and kind, caring and thoughtful, supportive and softspoken. He is perfect for her. And, as her friend, perfect for me too.

I don't mind when he answers the phone and even chat a bit before asking for her. He never seems to mind when I disrupt their lives, privacy and quiet. He is a good man.

And he is very sick.

For the last several months he has been complaining about back pain. Not a man to complain, everyone listened. As residents of Canada, he had to wait forever to get the one doctor in a town of 120,000 to work him in. Even then he was given something for the pain and sent home. He was told to apply heat compresses and rest. When things didn't improve, my friend, a nurse in her former life, insisted that he have an MRI. The brilliant medical system in Canada sent him for a catscan instead and catscanned his neck, instead of his middle back where the pain had settled. They found nothing and changed his medications.

He felt horrible complaining about what everyone said was just some arthritis. He stopped eating and became very depressed.

Then one day he couldn't stand or walk. The doctors this time ran a better scan and found growths in his lungs that had spread to his spine. He was admitted immediately and radiation therapy was begun that afternoon. The radiation therapy helped and he is able to now move and feel his legs again. Chemotherapy was begun as well. He was moved to a hospital a bit closer to home, and waits.

And his family waits too. His little ten-year old daughter doesn't know what she is waiting for, but she is waiting too.

Waiting for a cure, waiting for a miracle, waiting for her daddy to come home.

I am a fixer. Some people theorize. Others do. I do. Sometimes I do it wrong, but doing something is essential to me.

I can't do anything here. I too am waiting.

I don't know enough to "do" anything here. I can help the wills get written and the durable power of attorney and living wills. I can review insurance policies and get property in order. I can pray.

But waiting for answers here is hard. We have too few good men in this world already. We can't lose another.

I don't know what to say, so I share these things with you...And hope you understand.

with love, for Ron. Keep him in your prayers, please.


Is life better online?

Ever since I started doing this in 1994, shortly following the launch of the Web, I have spent an increasing amount of time online. My virtual life has vastly overtaken my real life. My virtual friends are closer to me than most of my real ones. My virtual communications are more meaningful than my real ones. Some people i have never met in rl are more clear ot me than people i have known in rl for years.

In the days before I started protecting people online, even my flirtations were more fun online.

I live in this virtual world. Life has become a website, and now, a blog. You send out your thoughts, opinions and information and hope someone will see it. You measure your popularity by hits, and your companions by the length of your buddy list or address book.

It's a lot like American Idol. That young man from Hong Kong, who sings "She bangs!" so badly is a product of this virtual life. It's a moment's entertainment. We all are on one wave length for that moment. The connections are made. We're all virtual.

We check the weather bug or site for weather when we could look out our window or open the back door.

Today I sat in bumper to bumper traffic coming home from Manhattan and messaged by daughter repeatedly using my Blackberry. I would have called and chatted, but she was at work. Iming her was okay, a call wasn't.

When we got home, we couldn't decide where to eat. What did I do? I went online.

I know I am smarter online (although those reading this blog may not agree :-)). I am much better dressed and you can't see the stains on my shirt. In the photos, carefully selected for the Web, my hair is brushed and I have lipstick on. I exist in cyberspace.

we can be anyone we want to be online. A little photoshop and we are thinner, younger and have more hair than in real life. We can work for hours ot draft that line people think was off the cuff. We can research the answers ot questions before offering the ansewers and looking smart.

There's always someone awake, always something to read, always something to shop for or buy...

maybe life is better online.

I think I need a vacation :-)


Privacy and misinformation....

I have been trying to learn my way around blogs. In searching for other privacy-related blogs I have seen many blogs that don't know what they are talking about. Too many were talking about the new Claifornia legislation that requires websites to have privacy policies if they collect any personal information from California residents.

There were many complaints about how this law has California reaching outside of its borders. While I am not a fan of local and state Internet-related laws, until Capitol Hill begins to move on issues like these, states may feel they have to act to protect their own residents.

California isn't reaching outside of its borders. it is regulating others than reach within its borders. State consumer laws have always reglated sales to their residents, from any location. Catalogue sales, phone sales and mail-order sales are models of how this has always worked. This new law is no different.

And, frankly, it's a good idea in any event.

Unless the site is part of a regulated industry (I call them Kids, Cash and Kidneys (children's, financial and health privacy issues), no privacy policy is required in most cases in the United States.

Efforts to require them have, largely, failed.

Microsoft and IBM among others announced many years ago that they would not advertise at any site without a privacy policy. It's plain good business. And makes good sense. it's also respectful of the website users.

There's no magic to a privacy policy at a website. (The problems come, not from drafting one, but from understanding your data collection practices.)

Tell people what you are collecting and how.
Tell them how it is being used. (shared? if so, with whom?)
Can they access it to confirm it's accuracy or to see what the site has already (most sites don't have mechanisms for this)
Do they have a choice (other than by electing not to use the site?)
What's the choice.

think about any spyware or tracking technologies. think about banner ads or other third-party marketing and data collection that might be occurring at the site. If you have e-commerce, are you using outside vendors to ship, fulfillment operations outsourced?

it's that simple.

Whether you are collecting informatio from california residents or from those in Outer OshKosh, you owe your site visitors this simple courtesy. Note though, that you have now exposed yourself to liability that you might not otherwise have, especially if you're not part of the privacy-regulated industries. The Federal Trade Act gives the FTC authority over any misrepresentation (essentially consumer fraud), and if you have a privacy policy and don't follow it, it's a fraud on your users. So, craft one and make sure it's accurate and you follow it. Otherwise the FTC will come knocking.

A few simple tricks can also make sure that you are better protected when the unthinkable or unexpected happens. What if the company is sold? or merged into another? or unhappily, if the company goes belly-up and assets are sold in bankruptcy? what about your promise never to share this information or transfer this information to others. In each case, these are "others."

In the privacy policy, let them know that the data will move with any merger, sale of the business unit or assets associated with teh website and in the unlikely event of a bankruptcy, may be transferred by court order or operation of law, notwithstanding your statements to the contrary.

Monday, June 21, 2004

My Information Week column blog: The Privacy Lawyer

The Privacy Lawyer

for the privacy columnist side of what I do, and things I wanted to write about but didn't. :-)

let me know what you think.

Okay...I've got the blog bug!

I set up a second blog, The Privacy Lawyer for my column-related posts and comments.

I suspect that this will only get worse...I can see it now...The Security Lawyer, The Cyberlawyer, The...and so forth and so on and the Energizer Bunny keeps going....

I need a life :-)


Prolific? or Punchy?

As I start to learn about blogging and what works and what doesn't, I don't seem ot know whether it is the number of posts or the meaningfulness 9is that a word?) of the posts that makes a good blog?

does each post need ot be thoughtful and valuable. Can some be thoughtful and the others be fun? What about an entire waste of your time? How much of that is foregiveable?

What do you see as key to a successful blog? And how can you find the ones you want in the midst of all the rest?

As someone put it so well...if you blog and no one reads it, have you even blogged? should you bother?

musings of a late afternoon.


Sunday, June 20, 2004

E-Payments...what every consumer needs to know

The FTC's website (www.ftc.gov) is a wealth of valuable information about any kind of consumer fraud, scam or abuse online. The responses are based upong U.S. law (as the FTC is the US consumer protection agency, among other roles). But most advice is common sense and works globally to help consumers online.

A big Parry's thumbs up!

Being able to track legislation in the US on privacy issues

EPIC Bill Track - 108th Congress Privacy and Cyber-Liberties Legislation

While I may not always agree with EPIC's conclusions on privacy and security legal issues, their website is one of the best online when it comes ot privacy. Their Bill Track page tracks US federal privacy, content and security bills and is where I look for updates.

This gets a Parry Thumbs-Up!

My privacy and cyber law site

This site was created in 1996 and has had many evolutions since then. Rather than waste time waiting for others ot be able to update it, I have taken over my own webmaster duties. So, excuse the frontpage and other easier applications I now use. I am getting too old for html and trying to learn the latest css and other website development codes. I can't get Dreamweaver to work for my life's sake.
But the site has lots of content and lots of tips and legal information.
Let me know what you think...just don't complain about the frontpage software. :-)

Saturday, June 19, 2004

blogging...curtailing the rant in me

I understand why so many people get into trouble by sharing too much personal infromation in a blog. It feels like a diary. But my diary (when I had one last at the ripe old age of ten) had a lock and a key I wore around my neck. Here we don't have any locks and invite anyone who wants to read them, to read our inner most thoughts.

When I was doing a world travel crazy trip from February to March this year, I was frazzled, tired, and working on dial-up access when I could get any access at all. I wrote a rant column for Information Week, and unfortunately, they published it. http://www.informationweek.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=18201799

It's so easy to rant and click "send." Then, in the blink of an eye ou thoughts and ranks are everywhere, copied in multiple places (if we are either unlucky or lucky, depending on your point of view).

Two weeks ago I spoke to a good friend. She was the very first person to be involved in the fight against online child molesters, and started her work before the Web was launched in 1993. She formed a group to teach about the dangers of child molesters online and how they organize and have their own discussion and educational programs online, just like the rest of us. Her group, now winding down, is www.soc-um.org.

Anyhow, I digress (you'll learn that I do that often...:-))

I was complaining about the state of online safety. No one seems willing to work together. Too many have their own agendas and refuse to join forces. There is no money in online safety, and littel power. Those who can copy our tips and tell people to "keep the computer in a central location" appear to be as expert as the rest of us. And vigilante groups like the new Perverted Justice (and next week's model) risk letting real child molesters get away in the name of media.

It gets frustrating.

But, I digress...

She lectured me for forgetting that I was first a privacy and security lawyer and second an online safety advocate. She lectured me that I had given up my expertise by hiding it under the "angel of the Internet" message. She challenged me to visit my home page, www.aftab.com, and find the focus. She was right.

She reminded me that my real value and power came from my being a cyberlawyer and legal expert in privacy and security.

She reminded me that as such, I could get others to join forces and try to put the politics and egoes behind us (I take equal blame in that one!) and really make a difference.

This week we will be making a big announcement that, IMHO, will change the face of online safety and awareness, worldwide. I am very excited about that. We are also working on pulling together a national conference for teens, headed by our teenangels (teenangels.org) to create teen experts who can get out there and help teach others about online safety and responsible surfing.

Big things are happening on the online safety front, and in my pro bono life.

But Debbie was right. I need to focus better and define my professional life. WiredSafety.org and WiredKids.org and WiredCops.org will host my online safety content and information. Aftab.com (which was one of the first legal sites online) will be devoted to privacy, security, workplace cyber-issues, cybercrime and abuse prevention and cyberlaw.

I have spent the better part of a week rewriting and coding (I know, for those of you out there who do this regularly, using Front Page doesn count as "coding," but cut me some slack here...). Aftab.com is now a new site, trying to focus on my professional goals.

Keeping your passion apart from your profession isn't easy. Luckily I am also passionate about privacy law and cyberspace in the workplace issues. I'll need ot keep my passions separate though.

and save my rants for here :-)

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

A Blog Virgin

As a cyberspace lawyer and someone who spends most of her waking hours online, I have been surprisingly resistant to the newer technologies.

I have refused to use instant messaging (under its current or previous carnations of ICQ) because whenever I logged on people would message me. I never had any peace. I also hate to type. (And am extraodinarily bad at it. I have to look at the keyboard whenever I type and PMs in IRC end up with text I wanted to post in the main IRC channel. But when you are always looking down, you miss things on the screens :-()

Like most of the kids these days, I want to do my thing online and not be bothered by SPAM, pop-ups, spyware or ads that take forever to load. All of these get in the way of what I am doing. They waste my time and require me to click, close, delete or ignore in order ot get back to whatever I was doing.

But this is different. A Blog lets us say our peace and only bother others who want to be bothered by us. We can share our opinions (worthy or not) and help, find and share thoughts with, others online.

So, while I still refuse to use IMs, I am now beginning my Blog. :-)

I am a lawyer specializing in Internet privacy and security law. I was one of the first cyberlawyers in the United States, and became on by accident. In the early days of the Web, I began creating discussion boards on AOL to help people with legal questions get free answers. I had more than a hundred lawyer donating their time to provide legal information online. One thing ledt to another and we created CourtTV's Legal Helpine, answering questions there too.

In some ways these discussion boards were the early blogs. Those of us with administrative status could post whatever we wanted and even remove others' posts if we wanted to. (These were the early days online when editing rights gave you the ultimate power.)

People would ask me for answers to "cyberlaw" questions. I explained that cyberlaw didn't exist. Frankly it became easier to read the one case in the United States that was an early cyberlaw issue than to continue to protest. I read the case (Epson, in California, on e-mail privacy) and became an instant expert in cyberlaw. Over the years it got harder. But judges and legal theorists still looked to the online lawyers like me for the answers. In those days being online and a lawyer made you a cyberlawyer.

So, I became a cyberlawyer. I started focusing on privacy, suveillance and security issues online. I wrote for the law journals, became a regular on network news programs and in the print media and spoke at conferences around the world. I now write the Information Week column called The Privacy Lawyer, do consulting and public speaking. My legal practice has been limited to special clients on policy development.

Not too long after that fateful CNN appearance I became worried that the people who were talking about kids online safety were focusing only on porn and forgetting the privacy, predators and security issues. When CNN called me and asked me to appear on camera and talk about the Communications Decency Act which had been enacted to censor content online, I explained it was unconsitutional. (The U.S. Supreme Court validated that opinion when they threw out most of the CDA a few months later.)

Parents called, faxed and e-mailed me asking how they could protect their children online if the laws couldn't be enacted to censeor content online. So, as a public service we self-published my first book - The Parent's Guide to the Internet. It quickly became the leading book in its space and the money I made was donated to a foundation we had set up to help give children in wheelchairs Internet access.

A year and a-half later, I took over running Cyberangels. It had been formed a couple years earlier by the Guardian Angels and had gotten into trouble with the FBI among others for mishandling certain matters.
The Guardian Angel who had been paid ot run it created a competing group and shutdown the website. The program had no remaining volunteers, no materials and no website.

Following my seeing a child being raped online, I agreed to recreate the program and run it myself. But I hadn't taken over the rights to the name. When the inevitable problems arose between Guardian Angels and Cyberangels volunteers and management, we left en masse and created WiredSafety.org. It remains the world's largest online safety and help group, with thousands of unpaid volunteers throughout the world. We help people who need help online. WiredSafety.org handles cyberstalking and harassment cases, child exploitation and child pornography issues, scams and frauds and malicious code attacks. We, through our WireKids.org, WiredTeens.org and Teenangels.org teach kids and teens how to be safe, private, responsible and secure online.

I wrote a second book for parents on online safety called The Parents' Guide to Protecting Your Children in Cyberspace which has been adapted for the UK, Singapore and for South America, as well as the United States. My publisher was McGraw-Hill, worldwide.

That said, I'll share my thoughts with others and hope that you share yours with me.

Parry Aftab