I started working at Amazon Nov 2013 as an E-Commerce Platform Security Engineer. I was an unusual applicant with special considerations — I have persistent chronic pain from a cancer that has been surgically treated but took years to be diagnosed. I was assured before being hired that I could get pain management and still work for Amazon.
A mere four months into working before management started to arrange special meetings for me. I wasn't performing "on the right trajectory" for an Amazon employee. I mentioned the Fentanyl transdermal patches as a source of brain fog, but my boss, perhaps being a security guy and suspicious of everything, actually had the audacity to imply I was wearing some sort of labeled tape placebo, and he recommended if this is what's holding me back, I get off the stuff ASAP. Two months of withdrawal later, and my job performance was even worse, despite ice packs and daily physical therapy. At this point I developed a crippling sense of fear pervasive in everything I did, personal or professional, and persistent chest pain became the new norm.
In pain every day, my motivation collapsed. I've been living on savings until now. I've applied for Leave of Absence as well as Short/Long term disability, but I have yet to collect any benefits. Despite my established symptomatology of cancer history and chronic pain, the Disability evaluators have insisted on a psychiatric evaluation (which has taken months, services are booked to forever out here). I'm starting to feel like all these psych requests are a way for the Disability evaluators to run me in circles and not pay any compensation.
Where did I go wrong? Should Amazon have accommodated my illness and cut me more slack? Are there companies that are more understanding of chronic illness? I was getting good work done. I can write testable, correct, highly-performant software for an implementation which spans an entire service stack. But of course, so can most of you. I'm clearly a lesser job candidate. Is there a place in the world for me besides Section 8 HUD housing?
The three-day conference, which took place behind closed doors and under strict rules about confidentiality, was aimed at debating the line between privacy and security.
Among an extraordinary list of attendees were a host of current or former heads from spy agencies such as the CIA and British electronic surveillance agency Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ. Other current or former top spooks from Australia, Canada, France, Germany and Sweden were also in attendance. Google, Apple, and telecommunications company Vodafone sent some of their senior policy and legal staff to the discussions. And a handful of academics and journalists were also present.
According to an event program obtained by The Intercept, questions on the agenda included: “Are we being misled by the term ‘mass surveillance’?” “Is spying on allies/friends/potential adversaries inevitable if there is a perceived national security interest?” “Who should authorize intrusive intelligence operations such as interception?” “What should be the nature of the security relationship between intelligence agencies and private sector providers, especially when they may in any case be cooperating against cyber threats in general?” And, “How much should the press disclose about intelligence activity?”
The most disturbing part of this is the number of journalists present.
Last year, the Economic Policy Institute made what is, to date, the most ambitious attempt to quantify the extent of reported wage theft in the U.S.and determined that “the total amount of money recovered for the victims of wage theft who retained private lawyers or complained to federal or state agencies was at least $933 million.” Obviously, the nearly $1 billion collected is only the tip of the wage-theft iceberg, since most victims never sue and never complain to the government. Commissioner Su of California says wage theft has harmed not just low-wage workers. “My agency has found more wages being stolen from workers in California than any time in history,” says Su. “This has spread to multiple industries across many sectors. It’s affected not just minimum-wage workers, but also middle-class workers.”
Congratulations! You just bought a new Chevy, GMC, or Cadillac. You really like driving it. And it’s purchased, not leased, and all paid off with no liens, so it’s all yours isn’t it? Well, no, actually: according to GM, it’s still theirs. You just have a license to use it. At least, that’s what an attorney for GM said at a hearing this week, Autoblog reports. Specifically, attorney Harry Lightsey said, “It is [GM’s] position the software in the vehicle is licensed by the owner of the vehicle.”...
...The U.S. Copyright Office is currently holding a series of hearings on whether or not anyone other than the manufacturer of a car has a right to tinker with that car’s copyrighted software. And with the way modern design goes, that basically means with the car, at all.
The DSGL contains detailed technical specifications. Very roughly, it covers encryption above a certain “strength” level, as measured by technical parameters such as “key length” or “field size”.
The practical question is how high the bar is set: how powerful must encryption be in order to be classified as dual-use?
The bar is currently set low. For instance, software engineers debate whether they should use 2,048 or 4,096 bits for the RSA algorithm. But the DSGL classifies anything over 512 bits as dual-use. In reality, the only cryptography not covered by the DSGL is cryptography so weak that it would be imprudent to use.
Moreover, the DSGL doesn’t just cover encryption software: it also covers systems, electronics and equipment used to implement, develop, produce or test it.
In short, the DSGL casts an extremely wide net, potentially catching open source privacy software, information security research and education, and the entire computer security industry in its snare.
Most ridiculous, though, are some badly flawed technicalities. As I have argued before, the specifications are so imprecise that they potentially include a little algorithm you learned at primary school called division. If so, then division has become a potential weapon, and your calculator (or smartphone, computer, or any electronic device) is a potential delivery system for it.
Outsouring over time starts to create its own bureaucracy bloat. It’s the modern corporate version of one of the observations of C. Northcote Parkinson: “Officials make work for each other.” As Clive describes, the first response to the problems resulting from outsourcing is to try to bury them, since outsourcing is a corporate religion and thus cannot be reversed even when the evidence comes in against it. And then when those costs start becoming more visible, the response is to try to manage them, which means more work (more managerial cost!) and/or hiring more outside specialists (another transfer to highly-paid individuals).
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