Juliet Annerino, a professional member of the Government Blockchain Association, and a founding member of Tech Ladies, shares her moving account of the journey that led her to founding Reputationcheck.io
Years ago in Chicago, when I was a college freshman, I was coming home from a party late one night, probably around 3 AM. Driving up a the 290 freeway, I saw in my rearview mirror the dreaded red revolving lights, and heard the familiar wail of a siren.
I pulled over. The police officer got out of his car and approached my window. He said one of my brake lights was out and then told me to follow him. I guess I was young and naïve enough at the time, so though I remember thinking it odd, I didn’t question it. After all, he was a cop, an officer of the law. He got into his patrol car and I drove after him. He pulled into an empty parking lot and stopped. I stopped my car and waited.
He got out and told me to get into the passenger side of his car. We were both in the police car and I was feeling strange and trapped but braced myself for what would happen next.
He began to explain to me about how stressful his job was, asking me if I had any ideas for relieving his “stress.” I knew what he was getting at, of course, but I tried to steer the conversation elsewhere, suggesting he get some exercise or more sleep.
I managed to maintain some semblance of small talk with him until I noticed the eerie glow of dawn breaking over the abandoned lot. I sat captive in his squad car, feeling cornered but hoping I could talk my way out of giving him what he wanted.
I was exhausted and just wanted to get home to safety, but I gathered all of my concentration and strength to keep him talking about how tough his job was, how unappreciated he felt, until finally I suppose even he got tired of dropping hints for sexual favors, only to be met with my feigned oblivion.
Before he let me go, he actually had the nerve and/or the level of delusion to ask me if I would have lunch with him sometime. Of course I told him “sure.“ What else could I say? He told me I should call the local station and just ask for “Bob.“
That night driving home I felt lucky to have avoided getting a ticket. I also felt drained, violated and angry that this stranger could feel so entitled to infringe on my time, my personal space and my sense of safety, blatantly abusing his position of authority. “To protect and serve.“
I almost managed to forget that night. Until recently, when I heard the clamor of fury, the cries of pain from the unhealed wounds sustained by others, inflicted by those in power abusing their authority, taking advantage of innocents. And again I heard a terrifying siren in my head. I saw the harsh red lights circle in the rearview mirror of my mind. Again, the disturbing memory stirred restless in me, of a time in my life when an individual who had taken an oath to protect and serve me and my brothers and sisters, decided to instead inappropriately impose himself on me.
Did “Bob“ go on to terrorize more young college students after my run in with him? Did his behavior of sexual misconduct escalate over the years? Had he done this before? How can we possibly know?
Why didn’t I report him? It would have been his word against mine. A police officer‘s word against a college girl’s. It would have been frustrating, exhausting and humiliating.
If there had been a way for me to report the incident from a safe place, anonymously, then perhaps, I would have gladly taken that opportunity to share this painful truth with others, to prevent Bob from this kind of behavior with other women he might pull over for having a “broken tail light.”
We can’t know these things. But we can look to the future for a solution. This is what inspired me to create ReputationCheck.
Born of the simple yet strong belief that the innocent need not suffer in order for the powerful to be brought to justice. It is a proprietary platform where Reputation Reports may be entered, shared and distributed freely, securely and – most importantly – anonymously. Once securely entered, Reputation Reports cannot be altered by third parties. All Reputation Reports, once entered, are immutable and uncensorable. To ensure confidentiality of identity, a cryptographic system of zero knowledge proofs (ZKP’s) will be employed on a private blockchain built on the Ethereum protocol.
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With ReputationCheck.io we hope to empower individuals worldwide against sexual intimidation, harassment and abuse by those in positions of power. We now see the dawn of new possibilities, through the use of cryptographic blockchain technology and smart contracts, to share important truths, to alert others of danger and to realize justice while protecting the innocent. Welcome to a new standard of ethics via the blockchain.