Registrant Apartheid: A Warning on Government Infringement

There is a saying that every man’s home is his castle. This saying originated from ancient Rome and later became a part of values with regards to privacy and security. There is a certain amount of honor in having a space to call your own. Rather it is a house, apartment, mobile home, camper, tent, motel room, shelter, or couch surfing home is where you should feel welcome, comfortable, and safe.

quid enim sanctius, quid omni religione munitius, quam domus unusquisque civium?
What more sacred, what more strongly guarded by every holy feeling, than a man’s own home? —Cicero

Upon visiting the doorsteps of others, there is often a welcoming greeting mat awaiting your either expected or unscheduled arrival. The welcome is clear that you are valued as a person with the freedom to engage with others unrestricted without the need of chaperon or assistance. However, society has turned from its welcoming mats to a sorted inquisitive band of uncertain litmus tests using a scoring mechanism only they understand. It is as if people that are supposed to be our trusted friends and allies have suddenly become narcissists?

There are plenty of narcissistic people on the planet (perhaps you know a few on Twitter?). But a home whether permanent or temporary shouldn’t be subjected to emotional strain and narcissistic behaviors in the forms of businesses sharing guest information with police.

A few years ago the hotel chain Motel 6 began a voluntary program sharing hotel guest information with police. Police would then run the guest information by national criminal computers to check for outstanding warrants, immigration, and sex offenders perhaps staying on its properties. Many of those snared took the issue to court and won massive legal settlements against the hotel chain.

Motel 6 will pay $12 million to settle lawsuit after sharing guest info with ICE

Recently the state of Florida introduced a legislative bill mandating that hotels or forms of lodging check all guest information for potential sex offenders visiting the state or seeking shelter. Florida already has the worst conditional restrictions for those visiting or living in the state. But to go a step further creeping into the privacy of a business to share its guest information with police is far reaching into dangerous territory. Sooner or later the police checks will expand into other sensitive details allowing firms to cherry pick who it chooses to allow as guests. We can see it now that as an example of the story of John Smith. John Smith is visiting Orlando on business. Back home in Texas he has a lovely wife and two wonderful children still in school. However John planned a discreet rendezvous with a lovely lady he met through a phone app. He checks into the hotel; the hotel runs a check and police come busting in because John Smith shows as a registered sex offender from Texas! However, it is the wrong John Smith. Now his embarrassment surfaces on a TMZ Odd Storys TV segment. His marrigage is instantly shattered placing his infidelities in public light. His future to mend ways with his wife and family are in peril. Rather than quickly blaming John for his poor choice of action or blame upon the police, the hotel is the key responsible party for sharing his mandated data. Sure, Mr. Smith was in the wrong for cheating, but his rights to privacy and his castle was violated. If Florida wants to check guests staying for 30 days or more, then that may be a bit more reasonable than staying overnight or a few days? Mr. Smith may have a civil claim with some very interesting litigation potentially placing a hotel chain in bankruptcy from the settlement he could receive? Nevertheless, the business has a duty and responsibility to protect consumer data, its property, and its guests. The hotel didn’t call the police. Instead, the law supersedes the business ability to act within autonomous actions by making a warrantless searches much easier.

Apartheid (segregation; lit. “separateness”): a system of institutionalized segregation characterized by an authoritarian political culture. It entailed the separation of public facilities, social events, housing, and employment opportunities. Complex laws are created to suppress and punish both individuals or supporters.

All this unnecessary panic legislation has taken liberty and freedoms this country embraces into a practicing police state. The nation and states already have a public sex registry tied into schools, employment, apartments, and volunteer organizations. It is frustrating enough to pay extra fees to the government to take part in PreCheck amenities to prove I’m not a flight risk to go through airport security. But laws similar to Florida are opening a door to only the privilege that PreCheck styled services or data sharing between businesses and police will extend to hotels, car rentals, U-Haul, gyms, hospitals, and perhaps to retail stores with fitting rooms.

For decades Americans have tried every method possible to rid of policing within bedrooms or homes. It is one thing when a person commits a criminal offense. But to begin a trend instructing a person where, when, and how they may live is unAmerican. When any government branch instructs by policy a business to share user data for a paid services without consent and expectation of reasonable privacies, it endangers free movement and prohibits choice. Services aren’t the same as purchasing bullets, dynamite, drugs, or restricted materials. The castle that we choose to make our home will always be a human right. The defense of that castle is a government facilitating registrant apartheid no different than blockbusting tactics and a revision of sundown towns.

Sundown towns, also known as sunset towns or gray towns, were all-white municipalities or neighborhoods in the United States that practiced a form of segregation—historically by enforcing restrictions excluding people not white via some combination of discriminatory local laws, intimidation, and violence.

There are many sex offense laws on the books with residential restrictions, employment exclusions, public space constraints, social media limitations, and the list goes on. If someone made a smartphone app to provide legal information to registrants or the curious, it would be inconceivable to develop. It is perhaps why there won’t be an app for that particular purpose because updates would have to occur daily to keep up with legislation, legal decisions, and refined interpretations. Pretty much the future of iPhones would require a Tesla vehicle battery pack to keep up with sex offender laws on any given day!

America is no longer the home of the free. Instead, it may reconsider changing it to Home of the Fee. There is nothing more disgusting than watching America with a populist agenda sway from the governance of law to experiment with socialist criminal law, embracing utilitarian principles. We are a society on a pathway towards the destruction of individual liberty but for the beginning of government interference upon capitalism and autonomy thanks in part to states such as Florida leading the way to mandate sharing consumer information without any probable cause.

Surely the utilitarian must admit that whatever the facts of the matter may be, it is logically possible that an ‘unjust’ system of punishment—e.g. a system involving collective punishments, retroactive laws and punishments, or punishments of parents and relations of the offender—may be more useful than a ‘just’ system of punishment?H. J. McCloskey

Sure, the notion of every man’s home is his castle is undoubtedly questionable as America continues its quest to legislate freedoms. Perhaps it should say, every man’s home was once his castle.

My Amazon Echo is my Alibi?

I could not resist mentioning the recent case involving the Amazon device known as “Echo.” I admit that I have one of these devices. When I heard that an Echo device was being subpoenaed to court because it may have listening data I knew that this story would grow into all sorts of hype. While I understand that police in this particular incident want to comb over every inch of potential evidence, I think we may be opening looking into a Pandora’s Box that may have ramifications.

It was last year a murder case in California had Apple and its iPhone applications at the center of controversy. There was much legal wrangling over consumer data, texts, and other meta information. But what was the most interesting part that differs versus the case of Amazon is that the government wanted to hack into the iPhone. There are currently features such as Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant and countless other devices that seek voice recognition to wake the device. I fear that our home may inadvertently become a crime scene in waiting if we do not stop the overreach of particular law practices and standards.

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I can remember a time where law enforcement tools have evolved from wanted posters to police radio, patrol cars and social networks, such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Community policing today has also expanded through social networking to locate missing children, alert neighbors of suspicious activity, and even inform the public about crimes committed in their neighborhoods. But it seems that police and other law enforcement organizations are migrating its way into our kitchens, bedrooms, and living rooms. I have nothing to hide. However, I do revere in a bit of personal privacy. The art of secrecy or personal privacy has slowly succumbed its deathbed. Our computer, smartphone, Echo device, automated garage door opener, car and almost anything with a way of connectivity can tell on us. Most disturbing is if there is a time management flaw in the code because that could be the powerful indictment within the law they look for. What can you do to protect yourself from your own devices?

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At one time I was worried about hackers with accessibility to my home security camera, laptop, iPhone and other electronic devices. That later shifted towards foreign governments hacking into my network to do harm to our nation. Within months that seems to have slipped into me being a bit concerned that my own devices are watching me because the police have a suspicion. Folks, all this can be done without much of a warrant. In no way am I eluding that Edward Snowden was correct in his assessment of big brother? But what he shared has had a greater significance on a plausible concern that we no longer have rights to reasonable privacy. If this was a traffic camera where I am behind the wheel near a crime scene, then I can accept that. Hopefully, my alibi would be a credible witness either that saw me or was with me. But I find it difficult for me to grasp that my future alibi may be my Amazon Echo device. That alone is a scary scenario with multitudes of problems written all over it.

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I am an advocate of free will. I do my best to protect animals by working in shelters. I hopefully write witty blogs about the concerns that I see most of you talk about but find little room to do anything about. I embrace technology, pay my taxes, go to school, work hard and have wonderful friends. One thing I will say is that I own my electronic devices. They shouldn’t be considered mature enough to exhibit free will. This means that they are not of legal age, at least of maturity to do human-like things on its own. Therefore I do not consent my electronic devices to exhibit free will or testify on my behalf. That should be where we are today with certain meta or data issues. It is too infantile and too scattered to properly become a reliable alibi for anyone or anything. I don’t want to hinder police from an effective investigation. But we must place a fair and reasonable balance between people and the reach of the law. We may live in America. But with actions like the Amazon Echo warrant, it is beginning to look more like the Soviet Union each and every passing moment. What kind of liberty is that?

I’m Trading My Life for a Flip Phone

When I was growing up and introduced to the internet age my life was a bit simple. All I had was a LAN line with call waiting and a Zoom modem box. Connectivity was to a service once called CompuServ where I had to pay an additional $10 a month to access email, the web, and browser material. There was not much to choose from, but the information was simple, easy to access and affordable. Today my internet service is by Time Warner that costs $100 a month, and my modem set me back about $125 to own (2 years ago). Gone is the telephone line only replaced by a smartphone account that averages $75 a month with AT&T Wireless and a monthly fee to Apple in order to own my iPhone 7 plus. Access to information is no longer credible, and I must be vigilant to ensure that my personal data is protected and my network secured from malware. Sadly I wish I had the simplicity of my 1995 life back again because what I researched was credible, inexpensive, reliable and didn’t overwhelm me or my wallet.

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Many of us are seeking ways to cut the cord so to speak. I have satellite television service with DirecTV yet have an Apple TV device connected to the internet. Sure, I could simplify things but at the same time complicate the way I am used to things. Our lives have nearly become a la carte somewhat at what is offered to us. But we become nickel and dimed to death at what we want to choose to have. For example, I could cut the cord and subscribe to SlingBox or something else and add HBO Now and some other goodies such as Netflix or Amazon Prime (which doesn’t work on Apple TV as of yet). But I end up paying what a gave up in original charges and taxes. Yes, I am paying for internet service that I could reduce only to degrade the qualities that I am used to or require. It seems that when we take a step back to average what we receive is below average only to be told by some technical support department “you should upgrade to our premium service.” It makes me want to scream at times. I didn’t experience premium or commercial free back in 1995. It seems that businesses have created clever ways to trap our norms or styles to become no longer premium but platinum in hopes we will keep wanting more. What I think of technology is like a drug similar to heroin. We keep wanting more and find it difficult to quit or stop our addiction. Funny, that our primary supplier of technologies is the very industries that warn us about substance abuse. The media can be so cruel.

What should I do? Become a free spirit and break free from technology? Should I become like my mother that could care less about smartphones, the internet and 260 channels (where she claims 250 channels are infomercials or pay movie based)? Maybe she is right? Perhaps it is a lesson from those generations before us. My grandmother used to say that American culture is like sheep. We just keep following what everyone else has even if we don’t need it. Nevertheless, we buy it and may use it once or twice only to rust away or become obsolete.

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Maybe I should cut all the cords and cordless completely and learn to begin to start smelling the real roses versus the virtual roses. I think I could save a lot of money. But like giving up any addiction or drug the cold turkey will be certainly a hell for me as I hear other addicts say, “what about what happened on Game of Thrones” or “I knew she would do that on House of Cards.” Is there a pill or patch I can use when I begin weening off internet and television? Oh god, I think I may be laughed off the earth, and my dating may be altered if I am seen with a flip phone. I desire simplicity but at what cost? That is who we are today but is it how we want to be?

Apple Losing its Appeal?

I am a fan of Apple products. In fact, I have been a fan so long that I still remember my first Apple computer purchased in 1987. Owning an Apple during that time was radical because it was molding and changing a new market of home users. Over time Apple pushed the envelope again and again. But when it came to my phone I was a hardcore Blackberry user. I was convinced that nothing would ever replace Blackberry devices and that they would forever rule the world. I was surely wrong about Blackberry. Today I use an Apple iPhone 6 Plus in conjunction with my Apple Watch and enjoy them both. I was indoctrinated from Blackberry to Apple that I would be a happy customer, and so far I have been pleased.

Today Apple unveiled the iPhone 7 and a new watch. In a nutshell, I was not impressed and left feeling deeply disappointed. In viewing the reaction of audience members during the presentation, it almost felt like a scene of canned laughter and applause for a television sitcom. I became a bit flustered that each of the new qualities Apple introduced is the standard to competing phones. It had me questioning, “why am I still loyal to Apple?” For starters, the customer support is rock solid. I have never had an issue with an Apple product that could not be resolved with a quick call to Apple technical assistance. Additionally, the ease of use without having to hire a nine-year-old to help you figure out how to use a feature has been a relief. But Apple thinks that all of its users are or will be some amateur turned professional photographer. This is simply not the case with me. I don’t plan on creating any home movies. While I am appreciative towards Apple’s efforts in creating an entertainment device, I would have wished for some practical convenience features.

Many of us professional business users tend to wear the battery life out of our phones. I would have liked to have seen a wireless battery charging platform or something similar to a Tesla charger for the iPhone that will bring your battery life to 70% in 5 minutes. While it is true that Apple extended battery life maybe an hour longer, I remember that same conversation a few iPhones prior where there was a battery flaw causing a replacement recall. Okay, the new home button is no longer an actual button. So what!? Sure, I get haptic feedback which I rarely if ever use. Then the huge announcement that the iPhone 7 is water and dust resistant which is a far cry from waterproof. To me, this only means that once again I am at the mercy of purchasing another Apple condom or similarly based Otterbox.

If Apple wants to impress me, then begin creating devices that don’t crack or break when you accidentally drop them. We live in an active world where Apple claims to be a part of but creates devices corresponding to the children’s egg-and-spoon race. Apple must create a game changer scenario where its devices are durable for a family and practical world free from required and bulky Otterboxes. Why should my prescription eyeglasses be more durable than my iPhone? Once Apple personally answers that question, then maybe I will be awed and impressed.

A part of me would like to buy the new iPhone 7. The practical part of me says it is not worth the move yet. I cannot see the benefit of upgrading my nearly two-year-old iPhone 6 plus. I think I share the sentiment because Apple is struggling and flatlining among many of its loyal users. Sadly the observation I am witnessing is akin to the once dominant Blackberry device. As the mobile device community grew and became radically diverse, it left Blackberry far behind. My fear is that Apple is losing its creative edge allowing other devices or technologies to overshadow its long-standing innovative side.

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