The Peoples of the World Foundation

Education for and about Indigenous Peoples

Opinion Editorial Calendar June, 2018: Want To Cry?
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Any opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the policies of The Peoples of the World Foundation. Unless otherwise noted, the author and photographer is Dr. Ray Waddington.

WannaCry? Many IT managers did this time last year. But if you weren't an IT manager back then there were still many things to cry about.

You could have started by reading an article published in last June's The Atlantic, "My Family's Slave," by the late Alex Tizon. It's the story of Eudocia Tomas Pulido (also known as Lola), who was "given," at age eighteen, by the author's grandfather to his daughter (the author's mother) as a "gift" (read: slave) when they lived in the Philippines. She was later trafficked to the United States where she was kept illegally and where she continued her life of slavery almost until she died. Horrific as the story is, it is told with pathos, compassion and even humor. It awoke many to the reality of human trafficking and modern-day slavery. This month's photo was taken in the area of the Philippines where Lola was born. That area is home to many indigenous people. The extent of abject poverty in that part of the world has changed little since Lola was a young woman and it is, therefore, still fertile ground for people to end up as human trafficking victims.

If you weren't ready to cry a year ago you could have read similar articles published in The Atlantic since then. Nena's story tells how she was deceived, trafficked from the Philippines to the United States, enslaved and abused. She is one of the few survivors in her situation to have successfully litigated against her captors. Judith's story is similar, although, while she was hiding in fear, her captors hid behind diplomatic immunity and justice was never served. Natalicia's story tells how she was enslaved and treated like a human robot after being trafficked from Brazil to the United States as a child. It is an exemplary exposé of how people in her situation feel powerless to act. It is also an exemplary exposé of how people in her situation might eventually triumph over their situation.

They say there's no use crying over spilled milk. But what if the milk didn't have to be spilled in the first place? Last year's WannaCry ransomware affected almost exclusively computers for which Microsoft had already released the security patch two months previously. If you became an IT manager only since then you might still want to cry. Just last month PCMag reported that the WannaCry ransomware is still active because some IT managers still haven't applied Microsoft's security patch. But even if your IT operation is unaffected, Spectre and Meltdown may be keeping you awake at night: yet another variant was announced less than two weeks ago.

There's a new threat on the IT management horizon. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) only came into effect a few days ago. But within hours complaints had been filed against major technology companies for being out of compliance. While the GDPR is a European law, it applies to all companies that do business in the European Union countries. Some global companies have already had to stop doing business in the EU because they could not manage their operational IT preparedness in time.

When an industry demonstrates that it cannot regulate itself, the regulators eventually step in. When it comes to the privacy of consumers' data, the IT industry has shown time and again where it stands. We need look back only recently to the cases of FaceBook and Amazon to see this. The GDPR is the first significant regulatory response and, while only applicable in Europe, it is only a matter of time before other regions follow.

IT managers will be busy crying for a while before they have time to develop new apps such as the one needed to help the United States Federal government trace the immigrant children it has apparently 'lost' — some of them reportedly to human traffickers. Perhaps, one day, IT managers will actually cry about things that should make them cry.

The Philippines is one of the locations in our feature-length documentary Peoples of the World: Southeast Asia.

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