Friday, March 23, 2012

Not Speaking My Language?

The past few days have been rather wearing on me. With dozens of emails discussing classes on consent, presentations on consent, policies on consent, and a few “did you see....” on consent.

Up until now, I’ve been generally pretty nice about my responses and it’s usually: “Thank you for the information, but I’m not interested. I am no longer speaking about this issue”. My friends- (you know those people- my really, honest to goddess, true and real friends)- the people who know me, who can talk to me and with me without either of us feeling like we’re assholes, who understand my own personal (dare I say it?) boundaries, limits, and newly discovered triggers with this issue, the ones who understand that I am not interested in getting into any online discussion about this issue. The ones who are perfectly happy spending time with me doing things and talking about things that have absolutely nothing to do with kink -with a few of them- I will have a quiet in-person discussions about some peripheral issues relating to “The Big Picture”, but they know that I have had enough of, and will not partake in, online rhetoric or semantics any longer.

So, it's rarely my friends I'm having issues with. I'm friends with them mostly because they understand about personal space. But I've had to take some measures with other people to maintain that personal space.

I’ve told people that I now filter my email into trash and which words are included (there’s a few). I have removed myself from Fetlife (it really does get easier after a month). I have locked my twitter account, removed some people here and there, and generally found my place again, doing what I love, saying what I want, and trying like hell to just stay away from this entire issue. That others wish to “carry on” with this argument is their choice.

Mine is to just stay the fuck out of it.

And yet, despite my being quite honest about my desires to not talk about this online, to not read about this online, to not have this intrude on my every waking moment of online interactions with people, there isn’t a day when I’ve been able to open my email or my twitter DM’s when someone wasn’t sending me something that I just “had to know/read/understand/hear”.

When I mentioned this to Septimus, saying how completely frustrated I was by people continuously, and with obvious disregard for my own personal boundaries, who kept sending this shit to me, he said that I needed to get a “stock reply” that people would hopefully understand.

So here it is:

“When I can't get my own colleagues and friends to respect my boundaries and not discuss this issue with me, is it any wonder that it's an issue in the scene? I agree that it's something that needs to be talked about. But it's not going to be talked about by me. Seriously. Back off. Red. Red. Do you need this in any other language?"

I’m really confused why so many people, who purport to abide by consent, who agree to respect boundaries...don’t understand that boundaries and consent are not concepts just for the kink world. Respect goes both ways. I respect your opinions.

I just don’t want them in my email.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Private Parts

Part of my job is digging up dirt. The dirt you probably don’t even know is there. In places you can’t imagine I’d look. I have at my disposal databases that you’ve never heard of, private investigators, and dozens of classes in methods of ferreting out secrets. But mostly I use just the plain old ordinary internet. Google to be precise.

I’m very good at what I do. With private databases and just a few bits of information, I can view your credit history, property ownership records, military or school service, get behind PO boxes to your real address, see your credit card information, court records, your banking information, and get a list of people who live with you, your relatives, your neighbors, your past addresses. With public databases and perhaps a bit or two more information, I can usually find enough dirt, or at least enough to spin in my direction, that I don’t generally have to spend a dollar or employ an investigator.

And getting a subpoena takes 20 minutes and a filed lawsuit. With that, about the only thing I can’t get without a special license from the court is counseling records and attorney’s records. Although I have to say, even both of those aren’t too hard to get when you’re in the middle of a custody battle.

And the best part? The law hasn't kept up with the internet so there's also a better than not chance that I can convince a judge (who likely knows little about the internet) of anything.

Facebook (and those sites like it) is awesome for people like me.

And don’t get me even started on Firesheep.

I’m good at my job. Sometimes too good. I’ve used what I’ve found in custody disputes, property settlements, mortgage financing, and various other types of disputes. My job is to dig up enough dirt on someone to sway the odds to the my side. I view the information dispassionately and without malice. To me, it’s just information I can use to convince a judge to award custody to one parent or another; to award a family home to someone; or to convince a jury that the person may be less than truthful because of some “questionable behavior” (read this as kink, alt sex, guns, drugs or gambling, among others). I’m so good at my job that some nights I feel like complete and utter shit.

From a Child Custody site:

"Today there are private investigators that specialize in obtaining evidence of online perversions and Internet sex addictions. These investigators can take a persons email address and locate secret online personal ads. Membership to online swinger clubs, secret Myspace pages and memberships to online communities devoted to escort services and their clients. They can even locate porn site memberships a person has."

The one thing that I hear from people all the time is “I had no idea that was online” or “I’ve no idea how you found that” or “I thought I’d deleted it”. People who use the internet to conduct their lives seldom realize just how much they share. How much is kept. And how it could be used.

And I use it without your even knowing I’m there.

Putting warnings about “not using your profile information” means nothing. If it’s on the internet I can use it in all sorts of ways and for almost any purpose that I wish. [let’s not get into a copyright discussion here, that’s another whole topic and not relevant to this post]. I can, for instance view your profile, print it out and hand it to a judge in the middle of a custody dispute (been there, done that). If your soon to be ex-spouse has done any research of their own, and started an anonymous online chat with you (and gotten you to admit cheating, drug use, or other interests) I can use that. I can save a static page of any website, copy any picture, and spin anything I find in all sorts of ways that a judge and/or jury would find distasteful or make them question your veracity.

I especially love finding pictures of people doing things that judges, guardian ad litems, and juries think of as “disgusting”. Don’t think that hiding pictures behind a “friends only” list protects them either. Especially when you don’t really know those “friends”. And it’s amazing how often people use the same exact picture in more than one place. With tin-eye or even google- facial recognition is an amazing technology that is of great value to people who do what I do.

And I really love emails, text messages and chat logs. Sharing a computer or a phone with anyone and even deleting that shit, there’s a better than not chance that if push comes to shove, a forensic computer geek can still pull up enough for me to use. But people are lazy and seldom cover their tracks enough for me to even bother with that.

So what’s the point of this? Why am I telling you what I do, the kinds of things I can find?

Because I want you to know that if you put it on the internet, it is no longer is private. If you put something on the internet, someone will have the ability, the resources, or the motivation to find it. If you put it on the internet, in an email, or even behind locked sites, there’s always someone who knows more than you and can find it. I want you to know that when you send an email to someone- what happens after that is out of your control. It can be used against you. That what happens after you hit that send key is out of your control. And that it is no longer private.

I want you to know because right now, you may think that you don’t care about any of that. But someday, you might.

Before you send another email, post another picture or do anything else online- you may want to really stop and think about whether someday, people like me, will look for people like you.