Monthly Archives: June 2016

Microsoft Jumps into the Weed Business

marijuana plant flowering

Marijuana plant flowering

Let’s face it, selling weed has always been big business. It is become more legitimate and has taken its place alongside alcohol as a legal intoxicant. At least it has in 24 states and that number is expected to grow. Why? Because it is no worse than alcohol and it delivers big tax bucks.

Now Microsoft is getting in on the ground floor of providing services to this budding industry (pun intended). Microsoft is working with Kind Financial a marijuana sales compliance company. According to  Kind’s website it provides “seed to sale software and financial technology.”

 

 

Kind-Financial-Logo-600x460Kind Financial offers; 

  • Agrisoft – Seed to sale software for cannabis tracking, compliance and operation management.
  • Kind Government Solutions – Technology and Consulting Services for government and regulatory agencies.
  • Link to BankingFinancial tools for institutions to service the cannabis industry.
  • KindPayCash free mobile pay and customer loyalty platform for the cannabis industry

Microsoft has given it partnership with Kind an official name. Its called the  “Microsoft Health and Human Services Pod for Managed Service Providers.” Microsoft and Kind are collaborating to provide local and state governments where weed is legal with technology to track and trace the  local legal marijuana market. 

But there is more to it than that.  Kind designs technology that monitors marijuana market activity to prevent the illegal trade of cannabis products throughout the supply chain. 

Legal weed for medical and party purposes has exploded in parts of the U.S. over the past several years. Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington have legalized the sale, possession and use of weed for whatever reason.

MicrosoftAzureKind, based out of Los Angeles, will support government cannabis monitoring programs by running their technology on Microsoft’s Azure Government cloud.

 

 

Breaking it Down

 That’s not weed you smell its money and vice versa. Why is Kind and Microsoft getting together? Money! Why are states legalizing weed for medical and other purposes? Money! Tax money! Colorado took in $70 million in marijuana taxes in 2015 alone. And that number is growing. And don’t let those elected jerks in Washington fool you. They are getting on the marijuana gravy train as well with a 70% tax on legal marijuana businesses. What they are really trying to do is shut down the legal weed businesses.  Won’t happen! Like they say, the genie is out of the bottle. This is a money making business that has come of age. There are simply far too many people who have or continue to smoke weed. They know the truth about the wacky weed and they know what it does to them just like drinkers do. Its too late for governments to turn back so they might as well get in on the party.

Race and Technology – Digital Discrimination

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Courtesy David Castillo Dominici

Neighborhood websites have become the newest communication tool to inform communities. Community homeowner associations use websites for disseminating news and information and individual neighbors are using the Internet to communicate and address issues. They also  use the Internet to alert each other of various events like street paving or crime. These neighborhood websites also have become havens for rumors, accusations, petty grievances and, oh yeah, racism. 

The primary complaint about community websites is that African-Americans and other minorities are often labeled as potential criminals in their own neighborhoods.

Next doorNextdoor.com provides private social networking for neighborhoods. The company has recently acknowledged that its services has  been used for racial profiling. Complaints of racially charged posts have compelled the company to re-examine certain aspects of its site. 

Nextdoor recently began testing a system where users who report suspicious activity or individuals are asked to describe suspects’ clothing “from head to toe.” This is a departure from the previous method where users used racial descriptions.  Users can also flag posts they think are guilty of racial profiling.

Nextdoor also requires user to use their real names when registering and verifies their home address before approving their profiles. By doing this Nextdoor is directly confronting the nastiness of anonymous posts that plague social media.

Using neighborhood websites for racial profiling has another unfortunate effect. These unfounded reports often become a drain on police manpower. Racial profiling has become an extremely sensitive issue with law enforcement. As a result police have become wary of social media reports that hint at someone being out of place based on race alone. On the other hand police are still called and have to respond to citizens complaints.  Responding to unnecessary calls draw police away from more serious calls.

AirbnbDigital discrimination follows people of color from their homes and neighborhoods and into the market place. One website that has been singled out for digital discrimination is Airbnb. However it is not Airbnb that is the source of racist practices on the site. That comes from the people using the service. In one case a North Carolina host using the Airbnb service was banned after cancelling a reservation then attacking Shani C. Taylora black female investment banker with racial slurs.

She is not the only black person to experience racism from an Airbnb host, Read; “I’m a black man. Here’s what happened when I booked an Airbnb.” According to studies discrimination on Airbnb is rampant.

In its defense Airbnb has taken action and proclaimed its objections against this type of racist activity.  Discrimination in public accommodations illegal. The Congressional Black Caucus is pointing this fact out in a letter urging Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky to take action against host racism and discrimination on Airbnb’s platform.

YelpIt is not uncommon for minority owned businesses to be treated differently on the Internet. Airbnb is not alone when it comes to people practicing digital discrimination on its site. Yelp.com is another website that has its reviews tainted by racism. A study by City University of New York revealed that black neighborhoods and business suffer greater scrutiny and negative reviews than white businesses.

 

 

 Breaking It Down

Racism has found its way into the cyberspace. Yes, the universe of bits and bytes and 1’s and 0’s is also very black and white. Black people are not really part of the digital economy as owners and full participants. Instead we are a source of income and profit to be abused and exploited. Racism that appears online is the direct offspring of the racism that African-Americans suffer in the real world. In other words nothing has changed. The same people that are discriminating against blacks on the job, in business and commerce are simply using the Internet now. Black people are denied more and pay more and suffer more just because we are black.  Its not just the Internet its everywhere. I have no other answer and neither do they.

 

 

Breach Brief – Acer Computer

Acer-LogoComputer maker Acer announced that it has suffered a data breach of its U.S. commerce site. According to Acer anyone who has purchased a computer through the site in the past year may be at risk.

Customers that accessed the site between May 12, 2015 and April 28, 2016 may have had personal information compromised. This data includes mailing addresses, credit card numbers, expiration dates, and even the card’s CVV security codes. CVV codes are the digits on the back of cards next to the signature box.  On American Express Cards the CVV code is on the front. Acer has not said how many people are impacted by the breach.

cvvnumberoncreditcards

CVV Numbers on major credit cards

A letter from Acer’s vice president of customer service Mark Groveunder said, “We do not collect Social Security numbers, and we have not identified evidence indicating that password or login credentials were affected.”  The PC and laptop maker has not said how the hack was carried out.

Grovenunder went on to say in the letter that Acer has employed an outside cyber security firm to investigate the breach and is cooperating with federal law enforcement and has also notified the affected payment card providers.

“If you suspect that you are a victim of identity theft or fraud, you have the right to file a police report. In addition, you may contact your State Attorney General’s office or the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to learn about steps you can take to protect yourself against identity theft,” said Groveunder in the letter.

Acer urges its customers to review their credit card account statements for any suspicious activity.

“We value the trust you place in us. We regret this incident occurred, and we will be working hard to enhance our security,” said Groveunder.

 

African-American Named First Ever Diversity Chief at eBay

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Damien Hooper-Campbell

Damien Hooper-Campbell has been named the first chief of diversity for the online auction website eBay.

Before joining eBay Damien worked a year as the global diversity and inclusion lead at Uber. Prior to that he was the diversity business partner and community strategist for Google’s diversity, integrity and governance division.

In an eBay press release Hooper-Campbell said “eBay is one of the pioneers in harnessing technology to level the playing field by creating a global marketplace that is truly inclusive and diverse. I look forward to leading eBay’s efforts to foster an even more diverse workforce and inclusive workplace, which I believe can contribute to increased innovation and even better engagement with eBay’s hundreds of millions of buyers and sellers around the world.”

Damien is a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta where he earned a B.A. in economics and M.B.A. from Harvard Business SchoolHooper-Campbell has an extensive background in business and leading diversity efforts. He served as a vice president within the Pine Street Leadership Development Group at Goldman Sachs and as an assistant director of minority initiatives for Harvard Business School’s Admissions Board. Hooper-Campbell also worked in investment banking at Morgan Stanley as well as serving the Harlem community of New York as an Associate Program Officer for Program and Non-Profit Investments at the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corp.

Damien Hooper-Campbell is 37 years old. He takes over the position on July 18th, and will  be based in San Jose, CA.  

 

Nude SnapChat Video Drives Black Teen to Suicide

Tovonna 2

Tovonna Holton

Tovonna Holton, a 15 year old African-American girl, committed suicide after a a nude video of her was posted to the social media site SnapChat. SnapChat instant messages and photos are ony available for a short time before they are permanently deleted.

According to WFLA television news in Tampa,FL Holton used her mother’s handgun to take her own life last Sunday after she discovered that friends had allegedly filmed her taking a shower in a lockerroom and posted it to Snapchat without her permission.

Tovanna Holton was freshman attending Wiregrass Ranch High School in Wesley Chapel, FL. a Tampa suburb. Her mother, Levon Teamer-Holton, said that she had repeatedly visited the school to report the ongoing bullying of her daughter. Teamer-Holton said she “wasn’t always satisfied with the responses she got.” The mother was considering  pulling her daughter out of the school before Sunday’s tragedy occurred. Pasco County Sheriff’s Office spokesman said the case is under investigation.

According to the Daily Beast Tovonna’s ex-boyfriend may have been getting even after the two broke up. According to one of Tovonna’s friends her ex-boyfriend obtained the nude recording and posted it on Twitter after they broke up. Apparently the two teens had been fighting the night before Tovonna died. According to Tovanna’s long time friend Christian Coyle-Watts and broke up Sunday morning.

Coyle-Watts said. “He did it just because he knew he could, and it would hurt her feelings.” Coyle-Watts said Tovonna’s Snapchat recording was meant to be a “body appreciation” post before the ex-boyfriend allegedly published it.

Stefonique Collier, Tovonna’s niece told the Daily Beast, “They say her friends recorded her in the tub while she was naked and then posted it on Snapchat.”

Collier said she saw Tovonna, who just turned 15, at the beach last week. After  the video was posted on SnapChat people began taking screenshots and sharing them. Another friend, Zoe Vereen said.  They were “calling her names.”

The ex-boyfriend mourned her death on Twitter, writing, “She was so beautiful” and “I wish I can go back in time and prevent all of this.”

The ex-boyfriend who was named only as Lumbano in the Daily Beast interview denies that he had posted the video and the idea that Tovanna was bullied.

“No one is at fault,” he continued in another tweet. “She had problems going on that no one knew about. Let my angel rest in peace.”

According Lumbano there were other issues at work in Holton’s life that may have contributed to her suicide. He called the bullying allegations false saying Tovonna had other problems, including disagreements with her parents. He revealed her final text message that indicates that Holton was being punished. 

Tovanna’s final text read, “My mom hates me. I literally fuck up everything. I’m such a fuck up and I can’t do anything anymore,” she wrote. “I’m truly sorry and I’ll always love you.”

Attorney Jeffrey Brown who is representing another un-named party involved in the case sent an email to a local television WFLA news station that also questioned the bullying claims. “This narrative is untrue and not based on credible facts and is their opinion only. The cyber bullying angle to this story is not based on facts.”

Breaking It Down

Whether this was bullying or not is a question for investigators. There is no doubt that the video was loaded up on SnapChat by someone. We’ may never know who. But there is a bigger problem here we must deal with. And that is the power of social media in the wrong hands. We need to make sure our children understand the how incredibly dangerous social media and the Internet is. It is no trivial matter when our children begin killing themselves when they learn how exposed they have become using the Internet. It is no trivial matter when social media persuades people to commit crimes and even murder. We must teach our children the power of this new media. Nothing is ever deleted from the Internet. And we must heed the old cliche; “Whats done in the dark will come to light.” Young people are discovering that their Facebook pages and Twitter feed are having an impact on their life far in the future. In Tovanna’s case she learned horribly fast that social media can tear a life apart. Sadly this not an isolated incident. People do this sort thing everyday because they simply lack the understanding of what the Internet and sites like SnapChat can do to them. We cannot continue to just hand our children computers, tablets and smartphones and ignore the continued responsibility that go along with it.  This is an educational issue that is beginning to look like a public health issue. You would not hand a child a gun to play with would you? So why would anyone hand a child a device that connects to the Internet when we know that there are extreme dangers waiting for them online. Right now there are pedophiles, scam artists,  and even killers surfing the Internet looking for their next victim. Parents need to be as cautious when handing a child a computer as they would handing them the keys to the car.