Following the protests of the May 2012 NATO Summit in Chicago, rumors and reports abounded of local police and FBI agents raiding apartments, infiltrating meeting places, and questioning activists—particularly anarchists, or those appearing to identify as anarchists—in the months leading up to the summit. A number of the firsthand accounts of encounters with the FBI and Chicago police came from Occupy Chicago activists, who housed out-of-town protesters and planned many of the weekend’s actions.
A pair of tattered banners billowing in the wind mark the site of the Brooklyn Free Store. One reads "ANARCHY For a Better World"; the other says "Share," with an anarchist symbol replacing the letter a. Books and VHS tapes are packed into a line of milk crates stacked two high — law textbooks, Game of Thrones volumes, Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life — and more spill out of a suitcase just behind those (vestiges of Occupy Wall Street's People's Library). There's a table piled with neat sheaves of anarchist literature, Xeroxed copies of the writings of Emma Goldman, and a guide to the Free Store, written in both English and Spanish.
In what constitutes a corporate media “scoop,” the New York Times recently reported on how “newly disclosed records and interviews” broke [sic] this story: “In the decades after World War II, the CIA and other United States agencies employed at least a thousand Nazis as Cold War spies and informants and, as recently as the 1990s, concealed the government’s ties to some still living in America.”
The FBI announced this week that the massive database system it had been building for eight years, pulling together stores of biometric information on millions of people, is at "full operational capacity." The Next Generation Identification (NGI) system is a vast, centralized surveillance tool — and the stuff of totalitarian dystopia: fingerprint databases, iris scan details, more than 50 million images used for facial recognition (a.k.a. "faceprints"), and the capacity to hoard information of individualizing details like gait, voice pattern, and tattoos. Yet aside from a flurry of pained press releases from privacy groups and civil libertarians, the news of Big Brother's ascension was met not with a yell but a whimper.
Authorities in the United Kingdom want Google, Microsoft, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook to help them track down terrorists and their sympathizers. The Islamic State publishes many of its beheading videos to social media, and officials are seeking to use the group’s penchant for propaganda against it, according to The Independent.
Librarians in Massachusetts are working to give their patrons a chance to opt-out of pervasive surveillance. Partnering with the ACLU of Massachusetts, area librarians have been teaching and taking workshops on how freedom of speech and the right to privacy are compromised by the surveillance of online and digital communications -- and what new privacy-protecting services they can offer patrons to shield them from unwanted spying of their library activity.
Consider the latest leak sourced to Edward Snowden from the perspective of his detractors. The National Security Agency's defenders would have us believe that Snowden is a thief and a criminal at best, and perhaps a traitorous Russian spy. In their telling, the NSA carries out its mission lawfully, honorably, and without unduly compromising the privacy of innocents. For that reason, they regard Snowden's actions as a wrongheaded slur campaign premised on lies and exaggerations.
For more than a year, NSA officials have insisted that although Edward Snowden had access to reports about NSA surveillance, he didn't have access to the actual surveillance intercepts themselves. It turns out they were lying.1 In fact, he provided the Washington Post with a cache of 22,000 intercept reports containing 160,000 individual intercepts. The Post has spent months reviewing these files and estimates that 11 percent of the intercepted accounts belonged to NSA targets and the remaining 89 percent were "incidental" collections from bystanders.
Since 2006, the Surveillance State has continued to grow. Here in New York, several waves of new systems have been installed, with each one bringing more powerful (and expensive) cameras to our streets, subway stations and public housing units. As in Chicago and Washington, D.C., there is now a centralized, real-time, computerized surveillance meta-system at work. Its name is “Domain Surveillance” and it was developed in 2012 by the NYPD/CIA in conjunction with Microsoft.
Last week, the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) released a trove of some 4,000 documents it obtained under the Freedom of Information Act showing that the movements of the mostly peaceful participants in the Occupy Wall Street protests were subjected to an “enormous spying and monitoring apparatus” that included coordination between the Pentagon, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, local police, private security contractors and corporate interests.
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