my declaration of independance
An edited version of a message I sent to all stakeholder of the campaign.

I tend to say yes a lot. In most cases, saying yes opens the door to great opportunities. But sometimes, saying yes can lead to serious conflicts.

Recently, I was approached by a friend to build a website to collect signatures for the purpose of an amicus brief (1) in support of plaintiffs in an ongoing case. Without thinking too much about it I said yes and started work immediately.

We were able to launch the website right on-time to go with the social media campaign planned for this purpose. After few weeks, we collected over 40,000 signatures from 144 countries. Although only US residents of a certain age will be added to the legal brief, we never the less were processing a huge amount of personal information that we were not prepared to handle. In additional to names, locations, and ages of signatories, we were also collecting IP addresses and email addresses among other identifiable information.

Facing the pressure to release the data unconditionally, I raised legitimate questions regarding its ownership, who is responsible for it, and how it can and cannot be used. My approach would have been different, but in this case, I was the one in charge of the server and the sole responsible for the data collected.

After several attempts, I was able to get the organization behind the brief to understand the importance of protecting the privacy of the users when taking ownership of the data. I was also able to convince them to build a new online form to collect further support for the case in compliance with national and international privacy regulations.

At the end, this was another great learning opportunity worth saying yes for.

But my biggest take away from this experience is that knowledge gives you responsibility. And the date I decided to stand firm and do the right thing became my day of declaration of independence.

  1. According to Wikipedia, an amicus curiae is someone who is not a party to a case and may or may not have been solicited by a party and who assists a court by offering information, expertise, or insight that has a bearing on the issues in the case; and is typically presented in the form of a brief.
    Good morning everyone.