Tuesday, September 14, 2010

MACLEANS: Should HRCs pick your faculty dean?

Interesting article in this week’s Macleans Magazine.







Should HRCs pick your faculty dean?

By Robyn Urback | September 13th, 2010 | 9:57 am

Filed Under: BlogsRobyn UrbackTop Stories

Tags: dean of lawEmily Carascohuman rightslaw schoolOntario Human Rights CommissionUniversity of Windsor


A University of Windsor law professor is asking the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario to appoint her Dean of Law

The rules of playground politics clearly state that the teacher has ultimate veto power. You and your buds can decide to spend this recess playing tag; no touch-backs allowed, past the bench is out of bounds, and the kid with no friends has to watch from the sidelines. But if Herr teacher happens to wander into the courtyard, instructing you to change the game to Red Light/Green Light (with Loner Louis as the coveted “Stoplight” leader, no less), well, you’re pretty much out of luck. Grit your teeth and wait for the “signals,” kid; the teacher has ultimately spoken.

Luckily, most of us graduate from third grade and develop more sophisticated expectations when it comes to governance, hierarchy and internal politics. Simply put, by about sixth grade, kids realize that the brainiac biology teacher who doesn’t know a tennis ball from a badminton birdie isn’t really the most appropriate guy to be divvying up sides for dodgeball. Of course, logic of this sort is known to furiously implode (even in the sacred halls of academia) once Human Rights Commissions are thrown into the equation. Case in point; the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal is suddenly deemed qualified (by one woman and her lawyer, at least) to appoint hires to the dean of law chair at the University of Windsor.

Humans Rights Commissions in Canada are the provincial and Federal bodies that will bring a comedian to court for making disparaging comments to a heckler, ensure your human right to breastfeed while in a public pool, and enforce your right to counsel rape victims at a women’s shelter, even against their vulnerable objections. Now the Human Rights Commission of Ontario has been asked to guarantee Emily Carasco’s human right (?) to a five-year term as dean of law at the University of Windsor.

Carasco, a law professor at the university, says her candidacy for the dean of law position was spoiled by a false accusation of plagiarism, as well as racism and sexism. She has requested an order appointing her dean for a five-year, renewable term, $60,000 from the school for “injury to dignity” and $15,000 from colleague Richard Moon who raised the plagiarism allegation and, in a salacious twist, is a vocal defender of Canadian Human Rights Commission. (I’m sure he’ll be asked how that medicine tastes in due time.)

Carasco was one of two shortlisted candidates for the top law-school job, along with Toronto lawyer Scott Fairley who taught at the university in the early 80s. After an extensive interviewing process involving students, staff, administration and faculty, neither candidate was appointed and the university started a fresh search in the spring. While Fairley called the process “rigorous but fair,” Carasco expressed a different interpretation in her July submission to the Tribunal:

Put quite simply, the Faculty of Law and the University of Windsor, in spite of lip service paid to equity and social justice, did not want a visible minority woman as Dean of the Faculty of Law, no matter how well qualified.

Moreover, my decades of advocacy on behalf of equity at the University, an integral part of my identity as a visible minority woman, had left them in no doubt that in my Deanship I would do more than pay lip service to equity, and this prospect was unwelcome.

In short, Carasco believes the search committee, complete with Equity Assessor, a member of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, visible minorities and women, just didn’t want her because she wasn’t a white male. Throw in Moon further spoiling her chances with that plagiarism allegation, which Carasco claims was also racially motivated, and Carasco was out of the running. So what’s the clear resolution?  Have the government step in and force the school to appoint Carasco dean of law, obviously. Indeed, it’s the only resolution.


… REST AT http://oncampus.macleans.ca/education/2010/09/13/should-hrcs-pick-your-faculty-dean/








Tuesday, September 7, 2010

EFF: Steve Jobs Is Watching You: Apple Seeking to Patent Spyware

Steve Jobs Is Watching You: Apple Seeking to Patent Spyware

Deeplink by Julie Samuels
It looks like Apple, Inc., is exploring a new business opportunity: spyware and what we're calling "traitorware." While users were celebrating the new jailbreaking and unlocking exemptions, Apple was quietly preparing to apply for a patent on technology that, among other things, would allow Apple to identify and punish users who take advantage of those exemptions or otherwise tinker with their devices. This patent application does nothing short of providing a roadmap for how Apple can — and presumably will — spy on its customers and control the way its customers use Apple products. As Sony-BMG learned, spying on your customers is bad for business. And the kind of spying enabled here is especially creepy — it's not just spyware, it's "traitorware," since it is designed to allow Apple to retaliate against you if you do something Apple doesn't like.

Essentially, Apple's patent provides for a device to investigate a user's identity, ostensibly to determine if and when that user is "unauthorized," or, in other words, stolen. More specifically, the technology would allow Apple to record the voice of the device's user, take a photo of the device's user's current location or even detect and record the heartbeat of the device's user. Once an unauthorized user is identified, Apple could wipe the device and remotely store the user's "sensitive data." Apple's patent application suggests it may use the technology not just to limit "unauthorized" uses of its phones but also shut down the phone if and when it has been stolen.

However, Apple's new technology would do much more. This patented device enables Apple to secretly collect, store and potentially use sensitive biometric information about you. This is dangerous in two ways:

First, it is far more than what is needed just to protect you against a lost or stolen phone. It's extremely privacy-invasive and it puts you at great risk if Apple's data on you are compromised. But it's not only the biometric data that are a concern. Second, Apple's technology includes various types of usage monitoring — also very privacy-invasive. This patented process could be used to retaliate against you if you jailbreak or tinker with your device in ways that Apple views as "unauthorized" even if it is perfectly legal under copyright law.

Here's a sample of the kinds of information Apple plans to collect:
  • The system can take a picture of the user's face, "without a flash, any noise, or any indication that a picture is being taken to prevent the current user from knowing he is being photographed";
  • The system can record the user's voice, whether or not a phone call is even being made;
  • The system can determine the user's unique individual heartbeat "signature";
  • To determine if the device has been hacked, the device can watch for "a sudden increase in memory usage of the electronic device";
  • The user's "Internet activity can be monitored or any communication packets that are served to the electronic device can be recorded"; and
  • The device can take a photograph of the surrounding location to determine where it is being used.
In other words, Apple will know who you are, where you are, and what you are doing and saying and even how fast your heart is beating. In some embodiments of Apple's "invention," this information "can be gathered every time the electronic device is turned on, unlocked, or used." When an "unauthorized use" is detected, Apple can contact a "responsible party." A "responsible party" may be the device's owner, it may also be "proper authorities or the police."

Apple does not explain what it will do with all of this collected information on its users, how long it will maintain this information, how it will use this information, or if it will share this information with other third parties. We know based on long experience that if Apple collects this information, law enforcement will come for it, and may even order Apple to turn it on for reasons other than simply returning a lost phone to its owner.

This patent is downright creepy and invasive — certainly far more than would be needed to respond to the possible loss of a phone. Spyware, and its new cousin traitorware, will hurt customers and companies alike — Apple should shelve this idea before it backfires on both it and its customers.