Laugh-Out-Loud Lawsuit Insists Serving Coffee in a Bikini Is a Constitutional Right

Sometimes a news story is so complete in its absurdity that it’s hard to be on anyone’s side. That’s the only way to see the current legal battle between the City of Everett, Washington, and a group of young women who make their livings whooshing out pumpkin spice lattes while customers ogle their barely-covered bodies.

If you’ve ever been in the Pacific Northwest, you’ve seen the drive-up coffee kiosks in the parking lots of nearly every strip mall. It’s a super-inexpensive path to entrepreneurship–I’ve seen these kiosks for sale for only $ 20,000. No larger than the average coat closet, each kiosk contains a single server and an espresso machine.

With so many kiosks everywhere, competition is fierce and owners look for creative ways to stand out. Some offer a range of surprising add-ins (Nutella is my favorite). Some also sell unexpected food items, such as biscuits and gravy. Others hand out free biscotti, or freshly-made donut holes, or dog biscuits for canine passengers.

So it’s a no-brainer that some kiosks seek to woo customers with scantily-clad baristas. Since most kiosks have big windows in all directions, it’s almost a low-level peep show you get free with your hot beverage.

That’s where the trouble begins. Eight years ago–after a lengthy undercover investigation in a town that has plenty of other problems–five Everett bikini baristas were arrested and charged with prostitution because they accepted money for such things as a “whipped cream show” (two baristas lick whipped cream off each other) and “basketball” (in which customers throw money that the baristas catch in their underwear).

Since then, the city has tried to contain the baristas using its lewd conduct laws, which Assistant City Attorney Ramsey Ramerman, claims was “simply ineffective.” And so the Everett City Council unanimously passed a law requiring baristas and all other fast food servers to wear clothing that covers “minimum body areas.” It continues:

“Such clothing shall not be see-through and must fit adequately so that undergarments and all minimum body areas remain covered at all times including when the wearer is sitting, standing, bending reaching or performing other work duties.”

Wondering what constitutes a “minimum body area”? Never fear–the City Council has provided a definition:

“‘Minimum body areas’ means the upper and lower body (breast/pectorals, stomach, back below the shoulder blades, buttocks, top three inches of leg below the buttocks, pubic area and genitals).”

For good measure, Everett also enacted a city-wide code defining a lewd act (among other things) as:

“1. An exposure or display of one’s genitals, anus, bottom one-half of the anal cleft, or any portion of the areola or nipple of the female breast; or

2. An exposure of more than one-half of the part of the female breast located below the top of the areola; provided, that the covered area shall be covered by opaque material and coverage shall be contiguous to the areola.”

Just to be extra clear, it added:

“Body paint is not ‘opaque material.'”

These patently silly laws were met with an even sillier lawsuit by seven bikini baristas and one kiosk owner. Not satisfied with challenging the laws on the grounds of restraint of trade or fairness–servers in restaurants and private clubs aren’t included–attorneys for this group went straight for the First Amendment, arguing that the right to expose most of one’s skin constitutes self-expression.

As the Seattle alternative weekly The Stranger puts it, the free speech arguments in the complaint are “absurd in the lengths they go to avoid saying bikini baristas are meant to serve horny people.”

For example, it says this about the baristas and their bikinis:

“They express messages of freedom, openness, acceptance, empowerment, and individuality. By exposing who they are as people through tattoos, scars, and the bikinis that they choose to wear, the Baristas exchange conversations with customers about life experiences, personal choices, and other topics that would not otherwise occur. The Baristas cannot express these messages and prompt these discussions without the unique expression that wearing a bikini provides.”

Furthermore:

“The Baristas use bikinis to portray a fun and happy-go-lucky image that gives customers a quick break from their daily lives. The bikini allows customers to imagine for a moment that they are relaxing at the beach or on vacation. The Baristas could not portray this message with another uniform.”

Not only that, the individual baristas explain what wearing a bikini means to them. Each repeats that the bikinis have nothing to do with sex and everything to do with empowerment. One explains that her bikini reveals scars from a childhood accident, which she talks to customers about and “they open up with their own stories.” Another says, “Millions of women fought for our rights and right to vote, and it’s my right to wear what I want.”

This is where the baristas lost me because the suffragists of 100 years ago went to prisons and workhouses and went on hunger strikes and endured the torture of having six-inch rubber hoses forced down their throats and nasal passages along with near-universal derision and disdain. I don’t think they went through all that out of a fervent hope that someday their female descendants would be empowered to serve coffee while wearing bikinis and playing “basketball” in the ostensible pursuit of self-expression, and the actual pursuit of larger tips.

I don’t want to be a killjoy, and neither should the City of Everett. Since the rule at most bikini stands seems to be that customers must remain in their cars, the worst that can likely result from most scantily-clad barista stands is the occasional whipped-cream show or fully nude coffee serving. In a city that’s also suing a pharmaceutical company over its rampant opioid problem, that just doesn’t seem like such a big deal.

Free speech, on the other hand, is a big deal. I’m not sure if the bikini baristas or their attorney noticed that they filed their complaint during Banned Books Week, an event that reminds us that classics from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to Toni Morrison’s Beloved and even The Diary of Anne Frank have been censored in American schools. All over the world, men and women risk their freedom, their health, and sometimes their lives for the right to write, film, or otherwise share the truth as they see it. That’s worth fighting and dying for. The right to show off the bottom half of one’s anal cleft? Not so much.

Tech

Is Chrome OS right for you? A 3-question quiz to find out

Google’s Chrome OS is one of the world’s most misunderstood computing platforms. Chromebooks are foundationally different from traditional PCs, after all — and consequently, there are a lot of misconceptions about how they work and what they can and cannot do.

Since people are always asking me whether a Chromebook might be right for their needs, I thought I’d put together a quick guide to help any such wonderers figure it out. Whether it’s you or someone you know who’s curious, the following three questions should help shed some light on what the platform’s all about and for whom it makes sense.

1. Do you spend most of your time using the web and web-centric services?

Think carefully here, as the answer might surprise you: What do you do most often on a computer?

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Computerworld Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: Twilio does speech recognition and understanding, the right way

We’ve all had horrendous experiences with voice recognition when calling a support center – I’d like to think that it’s just me with my slightly unusual Kiwi accent, but everyone I talk to has similar stories of getting exasperated at an automated call center that hopelessly gets even the most basic speech recognition exercises wrong. It’s a sad reality of the modern world that organizations try to shoehorn users into solutions that aren’t yet fit for purpose, just to save some costs.

The world of communications has been the focus of Jeff Lawson for the past few years. Lawson is founder and CEO of Twilio, the company that offers a modular communications platform that developers use to power the communication functions of their apps. From tiny startups to huge companies like Uber rely on Twilio to manage all the communication stuff, so that they don’t have to. in a phone conversation prior to Twilio’s annual developer conference, Signal, Lawson told me that ever since the beginnings of Twilio, back when all they did was voice communications, he has hated voice recognition.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Computerworld Cloud Computing

4 reasons Cisco’s IoT forecast is right, and 2 why it’s wrong

Peter Corcoran, Ph.D., who describes himself as long-term IoT skeptic, published a research paper recently on arXiv.org—Third time is the charm – Why the World just might be ready for the Internet of Things this time around (pdf)—in which he speculates that this incarnation of the Internet of Things (IoT) may succeed.

Technologies often fail on introduction, later to reemerge and become widely adopted. The PC, smartphone and tablet all went through at least one of these cycles.

In the early 1990s, the Consumer Electronics Association first tried to promote CEBus, a specification for interconnecting devices in the home that supported multiple physical layers, including twisted pair, coaxial cable, powerline, wireless and even RF. CEBus was too early.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Network World Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: 4 steps to doing clould ROI calculations right

I know of a company that had forecasted and budgeted for $ 2,000 a month cost with their cloud service provider when they moved to the cloud. Instead, about once every quarter, their bill edged over $ 5,000.

Why were they so far off on their budgeting?

Their cloud vendor’s pricing was fixed up to a maximum level of network bandwidth usage. Beyond that, the company had to pay incremental costs. When the company had built a profile of their performance and utilization requirements to use in attaining quotes from cloud vendors, they had only looked at the last 30 days of data. If they had looked further into the rearview window, however, they would have noticed the culprits that led to unexpectedly high fees—quarterly spikes in bandwidth utilization.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

CIO Cloud Computing

How to pick the right cloud storage service

Cloud storage is an indispensable tool in today’s hyper-connected world. But unlike the early days of cloud storage, when vendors regularly rolled out new capabilities and routinely bumped up storage limits, the market has matured in terms of capabilities and storage norms. Here are some key factors to consider before choosing a new cloud storage service.

Getting started with the cloud

One of the first things you should do when choosing between cloud services is compare storage options, features and costs. Free offerings might work if you need only the basics, but some of the most important or advanced capabilities are available only via paid plans. Some cloud services offer very limited storage space for free, and some offer none at all.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

CIO Cloud Computing

Moving to the cloud? First choose the right apps

Most enterprise IT shops have more than 1,000 applications they must understand or relearn before moving any of them to the cloud. You simply can’t move your apps en masse.

Why? Because some workloads make sense for the cloud, and some do not. Here’s my guide on how you can assess which are good candidates for a move to the cloud.

Key factors for determining cloud-ready applications

Good candidates for the cloud are applications that were built in the last 15 years and use a language supported by your target cloud. If you find an analogous platform for these in the cloud, your migration should be easy.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

InfoWorld Cloud Computing

The best Chromebooks you can buy right now

Hear ye, hear ye, technology-buying citizens of the Internuts. Let it be known: All Chromebooks are not created equal.

It may sound obvious, but lemme tell you: As someone who’s been watching Chrome OS since its birth, I’ve seen the level of hardware quality on the platform fluctuate from “barely passable” to “holy hamburgers, this is the nicest laptop I’ve ever used.”

The problem in the past was that we didn’t have much middle ground between those two extremes. Sure, performance shot way up on the lower end of the price spectrum over the past few years, but if you wanted a system with elevated build quality and the occasional touch of elegance, you were still looking at spending well over a thousand bucks.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Computerworld Cloud Computing

Google advisory council: Right to delist should only apply in EU

To help it handle the EU ruling that forces it to delist certain results about people, Google assembled a team of expert advisors that travelled the continent, seeking out various opinions on how best to implement Europeans’ data protection rights. On Friday that advisory council published its report, providing recommendations for the way forward.

The Google advisors’ report (embedded below) makes for a fascinating read, but the highlights are its assertion that the delisting should only apply in Europe, and its nuanced discussion of when publishers or webmasters should be notified of delisting.

The ruling was about data that’s inadequate, irrelevant or excessive – it’s a fundamental right in Europe that people can have such data deleted, and the Court of Justice of the European Union decided last year that this data protection right can be applied to search engines.

The global question

The advisors’ call for a limited geographical scope in applying the so-called “right to be forgotten” – Google’s favored term, but one the group strenuously objected to – directly contradicts the guidance given by the Article 29 Working Party (WP29) band of EU data protection regulators.

WP29 argued that, if the link to the data in question is only removed from Google’s European domains, it’s far too easy for people to access other Google domains, therefore the delisting should take place globally. Indeed, one of Google’s advisors, former German justice minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, agreed with this in a dissenting opinion in today’s report.

Overall, though, the council said delisting should only apply in Europe. Its report acknowledged that global delisting “may ensure more absolute protection of a data subject’s rights”, but it pointed out that Google users outside Europe had the right to access information according to their own country’s laws, not those of EU countries.

It continued:

There is also a competing interest on the part of users within Europe to access versions of search other than their own. The Council heard evidence about the technical possibility to prevent Internet users in Europe from accessing search results that have been delisted under European law. The Council has concerns about the precedent set by such measures, particularly if repressive regimes point to such a precedent in an effort to ‘lock’ their users into heavily censored versions of search results.

Notifications

On the subject of whether or not to notify publishers that one of their pages is going to be delisted due to a data subject exercising their right, the council noted that it had “received conflicting input about the legal basis for such notice.” It then provided something of a fudge: “Given the valid concerns raised by online publishers, we advise that, as a good practice, the search engine should notify the publishers to the extent allowed by law.”

In other words, do what the law allows, whatever that is. In the opinion of WP29, contacting the webmasters in this way may itself involve “processing” of the subject’s data, which requires a legal basis – and there is none. However, the advisory council and WP29 did agree on one aspect of this question: If the decision to delist a particular piece of information is especially complex and difficult, it may be helpful to all concerned if the search engine could ask the publisher or webmaster for help.

The council also suggested four broad categories of criteria that Google and other search engines should apply when deciding on specific cases:

  • The data subject’s role in public life (Is the person a celebrity or do they have a special role in a certain profession?)
  • The nature of the information (Is it about the subject’s sex life or finances? Does it include private contact or other sensitive information? Is it true or false? Does it relate to public health or consumer protection or criminal information? Is it integral to the historical record? Is it art?
  • The source of the information (Does it come from journalists or “recognized bloggers”? Was it published by the subjects themselves and can they easily remove it?)
  • Time (Is the information about a long-past minor crime? Was it about a crime that’s relevant to the subject’s current role? How prominent were they at the time? Is the data about the subject’s childhood?)

The advisors recommended that Google’s delisting request form should have more fields so the subject can submit more information that will help the balancing test – for example, in which geographical area they’re publicly known, or whether their role in public life was deliberately adopted or not.

Other opinions

The dissenting opinions at the end of the report were interesting. That of Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales was the starkest – “the recommendations to Google contained in this report are deeply flawed due to the law itself being deeply flawed” – as he entirely opposes the concept of a company being forced to adjudicate between free expression and privacy.

Frank La Rue, the former U.N. free speech rapporteur, also said this shouldn’t be down to Google, arguing that only a state authority should be establishing criteria and procedures for privacy protection. La Rue also criticized the scope of the EU’s data protection itself, saying data should only be removed or delisted if it is “malicious, is false, or produces serious harm to an individual.”

Overall, I think the report is an important document. There are of course many reasons to criticize the process that led to its drafting – it was done according to Google’s terms and timescale, and under the misleading banner of the “right to be forgotten” – and some of its recommendations don’t actually gel with current EU law:

However, I think it’s fair to say the council members were independent-minded and not all singing from the same hymn sheet. Ultimately, as a counterpart to the Article 29 Working Party’s more legalistic set of recommendations (that is their job after all), this was a valuable exercise in chewing over the deeper implications of that CJEU ruling.

Report of the Advisory Committee to Google on the Right to Be Forgotten

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Google advisory council: Right to delist should only apply in EU originally published by Gigaom, © copyright 2015.

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Cloud

The best Chromebooks you can buy right now

Chromebooks are popping up everywhere you look these days — and with all the options available, it isn’t always easy to figure out which one makes the most sense for you.

One quick glance through the choices is enough to make anyone’s head spin. We’ve got Chromebooks ranging from $ 149 to $ 1299, with a seemingly endless array of styles, materials, and tough-to-decipher setups (processors, pixels, and RAM — oh my!).

So let’s make things easy, shall we? I’ve used and lived with all the significant Chrome OS devices over the past several months (and years!). With that perspective in mind, these are the Chromebooks I’d recommend right now.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here

Computerworld Cloud Computing

It's About the Services, Right?

It's About the Services, Right?
Much of the initial focus in cloud computing has been on environment deployment. Specifically, it seems like we spend quite a bit of time talking about how cloud building blocks such as virtualization, automation, and standardization will lead to the
Read more on SYS-CON Media (press release)

Vertical Solutions, Inc. Partners With Pervasive Software to Simplify CRM-to
"Our solutions were designed to optimize a company's service business — with the Pervasive integration platform, we have now optimized the ERP integration process, both in the cloud and on-premise." "Pervasive specializes in agile data integration,
Read more on MarketWatch (press release)

Is cloud web hosting right for you?

Cloud hosting has gained immense popularity in recent times, but not many are exactly aware about its right definition. One of the description  and doing the rounds is one of the most common definition is that cloud hosting refers to a number of servers used for web hosting. Ideally, for web hosts plan to be regarded as a cloud web hosting, a couple of features need to be kept in mind:

1.    A huge technological infrastructure is required that can accommodate a number of servers that are connected together to fulfill the objective of running an application on more than one server.

2.    A client does not own a server and this in turn reduces the overall capital expenditure.

3.    Servers can be conveniently added and removed so that the application functions uninterrupted.

4.    One of the primary features of cloud hosting is that one is not charged a flat rate, in fact the rate is based on usage and a metered charge is used to calculate the actual rate.

 

Will cloud web-hosting work well for you?

If you have a small little website or maybe you have recently launched your website and do not attract much traffic, then it would not make sense for you to take cloud web hosting. On the other hand, if you have a website that does attract a decent amount of traffic and there are times when you website does encounter outages, then cloud web hosting would be an ideal option for you. Cloud hosting works wonders with all kinds of websites that attract a fair amount of traffic and especially for retail, e-commerce or media websites. If you have a retail website and are planning to do business online, then cloud hosting would be an ideal platform because you need not worry about switching servers or the service getting interrupted if there is a high influx of customers to your website. If your website requires more power or bandwidth, then it is automatically taken care of because the website is hosted on multiple servers and therefore the usage is automatically adjusted.

Hosting a website on cloud hosting plan is best when the site may encounter a large influx of visitors on certain days or occasions. In that case you would obviously not like to spend a large amount of money because that may lasts for a couple of hours or a couple of days at a time. Instead with cloud computing you get that resource just in time without additional costs. Undoubtedly, cloud hosting is a more versatile option since it does offer the flexibility of resources and even the opportunity to scale it up as per the demands. But if on the other hand you are sure about the resource load and do not expect fluctuations, then cloud hosting may not be such a good idea. In order to truly determine if you need cloud hosting or not, it is always advisable to even check with your web host provider.

 

John has years of experience in the field of web hosting and has written extensively on the various aspects of web hosting. Find out more about the various kinds of web hosting plans and services at http://www.hostingonweb.com/

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