Tag Archive: counter surveillance

How Police Body Cameras Were Designed to Get Cops Off the Hook



In the wake of protests over police violence against black men, many civil rights activists are calling for a high-tech solution: strapping wearable body cameras to cops. The idea is to hold police accountable for unnecessary violence. But the history of police body cams reveals that the devices have often had the opposite effect.

On the afternoon of March 1st, a band of Los Angeles Police shot a homeless man. Video of the incident was captured by both a witness armed with a cell phone, and by body cameras strapped to the officers. Despite the evidence, what actually happened on Skid Row before police shot Charly Keunang remains a matter of dispute. How it went down depends on who you ask — and, more importantly, on whose video you’re watching.

The civilian shot video from a short distance away, and the footage shows officers circling Keunang before a physical struggle erupts. Keunang is thrown to the ground. Officers struggle to contain him. He’s resisting but subdued. He’s not going anywhere but he hasn’t been cuffed. Then after some yelling, three officers open fire. (more…)

Report shows extent of police surveillance in North Carolina

surveillanceFrom Indy Week

More than 70 North Carolina law enforcement agencies are using automatic license plate readers, cell phone location trackers and surveillance cameras to keep an eye, and a mass of data, on ordinary citizens. And soon, they could be able to add unmanned drones to that list.

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina (ACLU-NC) uncovered a wealth of information about surveillance technologies that police and sheriff’s departments use in jurisdictions across the state, through a series of public records requests. Thursday morning, ACLU-NC policy director Sarah Preston and staff attorney Nathan Wessler joined former state Senator and criminal defense attorney Thom Goolsby to host a legislative briefing on privacy and surveillance issues.

While surveillance technology is not new, its use by law enforcement is becoming more widespread in the digital age, and the laws regulating its use have fallen far behind. The federal statute that governs warrantless access to cell phone and email records, for example, has not been updated since 1986. Now, regulating surveillance technology is falling to the states, and the ACLU-NC is pushing for legislation that protects the Fourth Amendment, by requiring law enforcement to obtain a warrant before collecting certain kinds of digital information on citizens. (more…)

Beyond Whistleblowing

edFrom Crimethinc.

Citizenfour is just the latest expression of public fascination with the figure of the whistleblower. Jesselyn Radack, Thomas Drake, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden—the whistleblower defects from within the halls of power to inform us about how power is being misused, delivering forbidden information to the people like the holy fire of Prometheus.

But can the whistleblower save us? Is whistleblowing enough? What limitations are coded into a strategy of social change based around whistleblowing, and what would it take to go beyond them?

Certainly, whistleblowers look good compared to the institutions they expose. Faith in authorities of all stripes is at an all-time low, and for good reason. In a news clip in Citizenfour, we see Obama claim to have ordered an inquiry into the NSA before Snowden’s revelations surfaced, petulantly implying that he was Snowden before Snowden. The President calls cynically for a “fact-based” discussion—when the only useful source of facts has been the illegal leaks of the man he is decrying. It is difficult to imagine a starker contrast between courage and cynicism.

Yet it’s one thing to unmask tyrants—it’s another thing to depose them. (more…)

Live Streamers Make Great Informants

live-streamers-make-great-informants_1-800x428From We Cop Watch

There are many ways to effectively document the movement while protecting the space, its movements and people’s privacy. Live Streaming is generally NOT one of them.

A common issue with Streamers is their display of entitlement, often citing the value of bringing the movement to the people. But Streamers have a hard time admitting that the police find their work more valuable then demonstrators.

In a world of voyeurism and exhibitionists, Streamers often get carried away, interpreting their role as being a narrator for the movement. They often film people without their consent, placing more value in presenting to their viewership, then protecting the group that is already taking risks by just getting out into the street to protest.


On Cameras: breaches of respect and solidarity

toomanyExcerpted from The Failure of Nonviolence by Peter Gelderloos

The next big issue is the cameras. Everyone needs to realize that they are endangering fellow protesters by filming everything. We should also spread the criticism that if everyone has a camera, they are nothing but a passive spectator, and they are turning their own protest into a sheer spectacle. A camera in the hands is one less rock, one less sign, one less flag, one less can of spraypaint, or one less stack of flyers, and really, one less protester in any active sense of the word. While the question of spectacularization is important, the question of security is basic. Filming at a protest exposes anyone who chooses confrontational methods to arrest and imprisonment. That’s a major lack of mutual respect and solidarity. But filming and taking pictures endangers everyone else as well. The police aren’t there just to arrest lawbreakers. They are there to help make sure our movements fail. They surveil and keep files on everyone who they think might be a threat to authority.

            It has happened in many countries before and it will happen again that democratic governments are replaced by dictatorships, and the dictatorships use the lists of enemies of the state that the democratic governments had already compiled. Another reality is that immigrants who fall under surveillance in democratic countries are deported and face even heavier consequences in their home countries. As for the democratic governments, new technologies are quickly giving them a capacity for total surveillance, and they are not holding back. It is significant, given that Facebook has become one of the primary tools of law enforcement to collect data on social movements, that most of the people taking photos are only going to upload them on their idiotic Facebook pages.

            Many people believe that there is a need to use cameras as a tool against police brutality or for counterinformation and alternative media. But a camera is far more dangerous to protesters than a molotov cocktail. No one should be using one at a protest without knowing what they are doing. Until Cop Watch collectives, legal aid groups, and Indymedia or other counterinformation activists start organizing workshops on how to film without enabling police surveillance, how to edit images to erase people’s identifying features, when it’s okay to put protesters’ faces on the internet, how to safely store, upload, and delete images, they should not take cameras to a protest. At a protest, they should identify themselves so others know they are not cops or corporate journalists. And everyone else with a camera should be asked to put it away or leave. Of course, we cannot stop onlookers from filming or taking pictures, and in the end everyone must take responsibility for protecting their own identity if that is what they want to do, but we will have created an environment much more friendly for a diversity of tactics—or just an active, non-spectacular protest—and much less friendly for police surveillance, if we can discourage camera usage within the protest itself.


The Failure of Nonviolence is available from Left Bank Books

Cell Phone Guide for US Protesters

cellphone1From Electronic Frontier Foundation

With major protests in the news again, we decided it’s time to update our cell phone guide for protestors. A lot has changed since we last published this report in 2011, for better and for worse. On the one hand, we’ve learned more about the massive volume of law enforcement requests for cell phone—ranging from location information to actual content—and widespread use of dedicated cell phone surveillance technologies. On the other hand, strong Supreme Court opinions have eliminated any ambiguity about the unconstitutionality of warrantless searches of phones incident to arrest, and a growing national consensus says location data, too, is private.

Protesters want to be able to communicate, to document the protests, and to share photos and video with the world. So they’ll be carrying phones, and they’ll face a complex set of considerations about the privacy of the data those phones hold. We hope this guide can help answer some questions about how to best protect that data, and what rights protesters have in the face of police demands. (more…)

For hacker Jeremy Hammond, prison is a temporary inconvenience

hacker hammondThe political activist and Anonymous hacker has big plans after his release from prison, scheduled for 2020

From Aljazeera

MANCHESTER, Ky. – Dozens of websites – many belonging to law enforcement organizations – escaped planned destruction and defacement when the FBI arrested high-profile hacker Jeremy Hammond in 2012.

“I was at the peak of my work,” Hammond told America Tonight from a medium-security, federal prison facility in Kentucky. “It’s a shame I got caught when I did.”

The political activist and computer whiz said he had already breached dozens of vulnerable websites and was “halfway finished” with preparations for a full-fledged cyberattack when federal authorities disrupted his plans. He said he was going to launch new online attacks every week. Most of his targets never even knew they were his would-be victims.

“F*ck FBI Friday,” he chuckled. “It was only heating up by the time I was arrested.”


UNC Radical Rush 2014: The First Wave of Events

rrFrom Radical Rush Week

UNC Radical Rush 2014 is a week of events (9/2 to 9/9) celebrating the possibilities for liberation and political struggle in the UNC community.

We need to find each other. 

Did you come to UNC hoping to fight oppression? Do you dream that this university would be a space against capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy, homophobia, and ecocide?  Are you looking for the on-campus resources that will connect you with the struggle against drones, surveillance, empire, deportation, austerity, sweatshops and war?
Did you come to UNC hoping to build worlds that blossom and sustain diversity? Are you hoping to build spaces where people can speak justice, and do just things together? What beautiful thing would you build as you build a community?

Radical Rush is an experiment in connecting communities with one another, and people with communities.

Let’s make the UNC campus a more vibrant space of solidarity, struggle and social justice.


Solidarity shines brightly on New Year’s Eve

durham1From Amplify Voices

I think the protest on the 31st is an awesome idea. This jail is pretty messed up…It is as if it’s a game to them–’I wonder how much time I can take from them today?’ It’s pathetic.”–Durham jail prisoner

Me and my cell mate will be looking for you all on New Year’s Eve.” –another Durham prisoner

Prisoners at Durham County Detention Center saw and heard demonstrators on New Year’s Eve, as dozens of people joined together to drum, chant, dance, and light up the night sky and show their solidarity with those locked up in Durham and around the world. Carrying signs and banners with messages such as “Outside to Inside: You are not forgotten,” “Prison: Slave Ships on Dry Land,” “(Love) for All Prison Rebels,” and “Happy New Year to All Humans,” the demonstrators continued their percussion, dancing and skateboarding for nearly two hours, bringing tidings of love and rage to three different sides of the jail, to facilitate maximum exposure to inmates. In addition to the steady and raucous noise made by drums, pie tins, kazoos, and other noisemakers, a number of paper lanterns were launched into the night sky at different points in the evening, making for a beautiful scene and an apt metaphor: the fire of freedom burns strongly inside and outside for as far as the eye can see–and beyond.

“It was awesome,” a first-time New Year’s Eve demonstrator said afterward. “Everyone had a lot of energy, and the drums are really loud.”


DRONE SURVIVAL GUIDE – Now Available @ I-Books

droneguideCome into Internationalist Books and get your free copy of the DRONE SURVIVAL GUIDE.

From Drone Survival Guide

Our ancestors could spot natural predators from far by their silhouettes. Are we equally aware of the predators in the present-day? The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) predicted in 2012 that within 20 years there could be as many as 30.000 drones flying over U.S. Soil alone. As robotic birds will become commonplace in the near future, we should be prepared to identify them. This document contains the silhouettes of the most common drone species used today and in the near future. Each indicating nationality and whether they are used for surveillance only or for deadly force. All drones are drawn in scale for size indication. From the smallest consumer drones measuring less than 1 meter, up to the Global Hawk measuring 39,9 meter in length. (more…)