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Opinion Editorials

Bill now requires warrant to search emails; you’re still not safe from government intrusion

(OPINION) Before you go celebrate with a lot of inappropriate sending of emails and Dropbox/Google Drive-uploading, remember that we’ve seen this game before, and we know who wins.

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being tracked emails

I’m talkin’ to you, pal

Hey, Citizen-of-a-Free-Country! Yep, you there, with the baseball cap and the hotdog and all that. Just wanted to let you know that I can look at your emails whenever I want to, as long as it’s less than 180 days old. So that embarrassing chain email spam you actually sent to every single contact (READ FOR 10 YEARS OF GOOD LUCK!!!!) about 5 months ago… yeah, I can see that. And I don’t even need a warrant. I don’t need anything other than an administrative subpoena. I know you’re busy deleting all the email receipts for drunken Amazon purchases, like I really care about those, so I’ll just tell you – that means there’s no judge involved, at all.

Don’t you feel safe?

bar

It was unanimous, buddy

Confused about why I’m allowed to ignore laws and generally mess with your mind? It’s simple. I’m the U.S. Government – didn’t you know rules don’t apply to me? Especially when you’re talking about anything even vaguely related to the internet. That’s way too new to even think about regulating, right? Right.

As things stand under the Stored Communications Act, as they say, “This is your life now.” The House of Representatives is doing their darndest to upgrade your life just a little bit, but even that taste of luxury (that is, basic human privacy) isn’t going so well. The Email Privacy Act just unanimously passed in the House with a simple voice vote, which means literally nobody was even the slightest bit against it.

Not so fast there, skip

This update would mean a warrant is required for all electronically stored communication (yes, that means your cloudy stuff too).

Age is just a number, privacy is forever.

Before you go celebrate with a lot of inappropriate email-sending and Dropbox/Google Drive-uploading, remember that we’ve seen this game before, and we know who wins. Last April the same bill passed with the same unanimous vote in the House, but the Senate let it die of amendment-cancer, that all too common ailment in which a perfectly good piece of legislation is replaced by a festering tumor of loopholes.

And, even if the bill somehow goes into remission and passes in the Senate, even with a warrant, you still probably wouldn’t be told that the government was rooting around in your electronic underwear drawer.

Even with a warrant, you still probably wouldn’t be told that the government was rooting around in your electronic underwear drawer.Click To Tweet

Don’t worry about it, amigo

The Email Privacy Act technically allows email providers to tell their customers about a raid on their info, but a bunch of ‘exceptional’ situations – including those that will “likely result in” things like “flight from prosecution” or “otherwise seriously jeopardizing an investigation or unduly delaying a trial” – allow the court to delay notification for up to 180 days (there’s that 180 days again, isn’t that funny), and for bonus points, unlimited extensions to that delay.

So yeah, you’ll probably never know.

Ignorance and bliss and all that, right?

#EmailPrivacyAct

Staff Writer, Natalie Bradford earned her B.A. in English from Cornell University and spends a lot of time convincing herself not to bake MORE brownies. She enjoys cats, cocktails, and good films – preferably together. She is currently working on a collection of short stories.

Opinion Editorials

Our five faves for Friday – almost Thanksgiving edition

(EDITORIAL) This week, I have so many faves that I can barely keep it at just five – Unicorns, gophers, tears, science nerdery, and rebellions, oh my!

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I heard a rumor that it’s Friday again, so today we share with you five of the neato-est things that we came across this week – some silly, some serious, all awesome.

1. Brands refusing to open on Thanksgiving Day

It started with retailers opening early on Black Friday, then opening at midnight on Thanksgiving Day, and now retailers are expected to force their staff to work instead of enjoy a bajillion-ish year old American tradition.

But some companies are pushing back, publicly refusing to open on Thanksgiving Day, so even though our home doesn’t care about Black Friday, we’ll be giving some business to those taking a stand.

2. I need you to know about my favorite tv show ever

So there’s nothing new about this, but since you’ve never heard from ME on a Friday Faves roundup, I really need you to know something about me – I have a lot of natural curiosities and history (when not told in a dusty way) fascinates the hell out of me.

Unearthed on the Science Channel is friggen amazing and literally EVERY episode has taught me something that I didn’t know before (like the one about Stonehenge included new discoveries that change how we think about how humans used to operate – seriously mindblowing stuff). All of the episodes are available online, yo, so get to nerding!

3. No one has bought me a Pony Cycle yet

One of the only email newsletters I actually open is The Grommet – they feature independent makers’ inventions and wares, and I’m all about supporting the little guy.

But I posted this insanely amazing Pony Cycle on my Facebook timeline this week with a request that someone buy me one. Guess what? No takers. My friends are monsters. I mean it comes in horse, unicorn (dibs), and zebra, why not buy me one or three?

ponycycle

4. Video that made me cry

After the recent earthquake hit Iran, there has been a deep need for food for the victims. Watch this video (my fave part is the pat pat on the back) and try to tell me that hate isn’t something we’re taught… also, I’m not crying, you are…

5. My favorite gif of this week

If you know me, you know I love gifs more than the average person. So when I came across this one, I knew I had to award it my fave of the week…

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Opinion Editorials

Is your job inadvertently harming your health?

(EDITORIAL) We often get so consumed with our work that we unknowingly hurt ourselves in the process. Learn how to keep this from happening.

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health at work

With the changes in seasons, we tend to put more of an emphasis on our health. This makes sense as flus and colds have a tendency to run rampant around the holidays.

However, we should be more mindful of keeping track of our health throughout the year. And, given that our jobs are such a large part of our lives, it is important to keep in mind that our jobs can have an affect on our health. Which can often be a bad thing.

For most of us, we are in the same space for eight hours of our day. Sometimes we think that just because it’s ourselves occupying that space, things can’t really get germy. Well, think again.

We have so many things that we touch on a daily basis – our keyboard, mouse, phone, ID badge, etc. These have a tendency to become a house for germs, which can hurt us as time goes on.

Combat this by setting aside some time each week to disinfect all of your most-used items. Also, consider keeping some hand sanitizer at your desk.

Getting up to clean around your office can help take care of another issue – being too sedentary throughout the day. Sometimes we get so consumed with plugging away at our computers that we forget to get up and stretch.

This can be harmful to your weight and your circulation. Keep the blood flowing by getting up and moving a bit every hour or so.

The mindfulness of your health should not stop at the physical, but should also involve keeping an eye on mental health. Your job plays a big part in this as well.

First of all, you start and end your day with a commute. For some, this can be incredibly strenuous – expensive, traffic-filled, etc.

This has been known to lead to depression. Try filling this time with positivity and fulfillment by listening to a quality podcast or an audio book. This will help to give meaning to otherwise wasted time.

The most important thing to monitor with your mental health is making sure to not overwork yourself. It can be difficult to find that perfect work/life balance, but it’s necessary for a happy and healthy life.

Try staying away from work emails and texts after a certain time of the day on weekdays or on the weekends. Think about it this way – you’re not supposed to tend to your personal business during work hours, so why let work interfere with your personal time?

All of this can be helped by checking in with yourself every once in a while, or even by using the buddy system and discussing the topic with a work friend.

Lastly, be sure to check with your company to learn about health and wellness programs that may be offered.

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Opinion Editorials

Do literally anything with your money besides buy an iPhone X

(EDITORIAL) The iPhone X is pretty snazzy, but let me express why your money belongs literally anywhere besides in Apple’s pocket for this phone.

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iphone x

The iPhone X is off to a rocky start, beginning with the fact that no one seems to know whether it’s supposed to be pronounced “iPhone Ten” or “iPhone Ex” and working up from there.

If you’re here, you probably don’t need me to tell you that a 5.8-inch OLED screen, facial recognition, 4K recording at 60 FPS, and an all-glass design are superfluous as hell — but just in the off-chance that I’m wrong, THE IPHONE X IS SUPERFLUOUS AS HELL.

Take literally 30 seconds to think about all of the mega-cool features that convinced you to buy your last smartphone, then think of the last time you used even half of those features without feeling compelled to do so. If you’re one of those people who uses all of the filters on the camera every day, fine, but I’m willing to bet that you just use your phone for Facebook, texting, and calling your grandma.

You don’t need a 5.8-inch, all-glass, basically-a-tablet-of-a-phone to do those things, but if money doesn’t mean anything to you, be my guest.

It’s also worth noting that there is a certain point at which “really fast” and “really, really fast” feel identical to one another. My personal experience with this phenomenon was with the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 8; it doesn’t matter how fast your newest processor is if the last one was fast enough.

Apple has a long history of publicly executing things that people are still using. While it’s hard to be too mad about the headphone jack, they hit a soft spot when they nixed ethernet ports—and, more recently, USB 3.0 ports—and the most recent dissident to fall victim to Apple’s indiscriminate chopping block is the Home button.

Yeah, that thing that make the iPhone usable in the first place? Not there anymore. Worse still, the simple display is now flooded with different shortcut hotspots. For example, you swipe up from the bottom of the screen to open the Control Center — no, wait, that’s how you get home. You swipe from the top-right corner of the screen to open the Control Center, while the top-left corner opens the notifications screen that — hey, are you writing this down?

To make matters worse, Apple added a bunch of different contextual shortcuts to the physical buttons on the sides of the iPhone X, further reducing accessibility. I could go on, but I think you get the point.

Is the iPhone X necessary? Absolutely not. Is it neato? Sure.

But is it worth your time if you’ve got dollar bills to blow? Again, absolutely not — do literally anything else with that money, up to and including burning it. As long as Apple continues to ignore the issues that plague their devices in favor of broken facial recognition and 3D emoji animation, consider spending your money elsewhere.

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