Thursday, May 16, 2013

Creative Ways to Beat the Developing Global Surveillance State

"Surveillance takes far more from the people than it gives."
BTC Commentary --  As device and mass public surveillance seems to know no bounds, we have to be the ones to recognize our own limits and create a living standard that suits our humanity.

Problem solving is a creative process that requires you to think differently and to find new ways of viewing an old problem.  Here are a few suggestions on how to beat the developing global surveillance infrastructure. 

Write down exactly what you see and experience

Many people keep diaries. Few people really know what a great tool they can be for personal motivation, empowerment or even self advocacy. People will revisit their writings over time. They will flip back over the pages to see what has changed and what has stayed the same. They also get an objective distance from situations, their feelings at the moment, perceptions, judgements and observations available at the time. The point of the diary is to document what life is like exactly as you see and understand it.

A public diary for instance would be more like a reporters blog, documenting daily occurrances of surveillance. Did it interrupt your day? How did nature interact with technical surveillance like cameras or audio capture devices? How did you first notice it? Who responded? How has your neighborhood changed since surveillance arrived?

Private diaries are also the audience of one. Until you’re ready to recruit the support of others, you have to be squarely on your own team. The diary gives you the loyalty of what it’s like to be on your own team. That way your views and person conflicts have the space to get resolved before your stand "goes live" with people you are working with.

Do one harmless thing every day to embarass or make fun of surveillants

Surveillance is both real and imagined at times. The psychological goal of surveillance is for the many to believe private actions are being witnessed when in fact, perhaps no one is watching or listening. The motive is to enforce a public environment of supervisory intimidation. This is why its important to embarass or shame the motive publicly.

It could be as rediculous as wearing a silly eye patch for CCTV cameras. You could stage an entire conversation in metal falsetto by a mass transit audio surveillance microphone. Play game show music or flush the toilet in the background if you hear clicking noises on your phone to let your friends know you think someone is listening. You can use the silliest ruses: pig latin, dumb codewords, flagging down threats with jazz hands. One person left a yellow balloon tied to a brick in front of CCTV camera.

The first rule of comedy is that nobody is off limits. So you can move political taunts to fully blown stagecraft, like some of the TSA sketches seen on Saturday Night Live.  Take it to YouTube and don't apologize.

Be very aware of where the lines are so you can tread on them without crossing into that would-be illegal territory. Whether or not anyone is watching or listening, the most important part is that you are applying yourself to surveillance situations and providing comic relief to yourself and others. Comedy norms win the game of one upmanship.

Find or create your “surveillance free zone”

Some things are private and therefore sacred. Normally that would apply to your therapy or your doctors visits. Since the rules have changed, its time to rediscover and set your own rules and limitations in a surveillance free zone you create.

  • You probably don’t want to tell anyone it’s your surveillance free zone, even if that’s where you’re headed. 
  • Make sure it’s an actually surveillance free zone. Essentially no gadgets and gizmos go there. No cellphones with batteries. No sattellite linked devices (XM, Sirius). No CCTV. No scattershot monitors. No drones or aerial surveillance. No computers. No neighbors. Seriously, leave Facebook on your iPhone and out of the zone. 
  • Practice natural, mundane and ordinary actions in your zone. Do normal non-criminal things. Do things you can definitely do without surveillance or monitoring. The idea is to recall life without the pressure of constant monitoring or electronic supervision. 

Get more education on how surveillance works

Find out as much as you can about how surveillance arrives in urban centers. Visit free legal clinics in your City. Ask about FOIA resources or methods to lodge a complaint if mass surveillance is negatively impacting your neighborhood. Read up on mass data seizures or data breaches. Read privacy and information security blogs.

University resources and libraries can frequently demonstrate how organizations come by personal information, who makes decisions on surveillance, where surveillance data goes after the authorities get it, who sees you. 

Keep an eye out and repeat local news on surveillance on your blogs and social networks. Consider newstories, like that feature on lost government laptops with a large store of sensitive public data. Search your local news listings for public notices to attend public safety hearings, city council meetings and State legislative studies and provide reports on troubled initiatives to caring people you know. 

Decide how to be more involved

This is a harder decision because negotiating how public or how private you want to be about your political actions and affiliations carries increasingly more risk, especially for the Internet native. You should be proud of your sentiments and speak your truth. However, you won’t be much good to anyone if you’re in jail or at the convenient end of a State prosecutor’s gun. The risks of political involvement are higher for people with businesses and family responsibilities. 

Even modest outings with a MeetUp or adding friends on social networks are under intense levels of scrutiny by employers, family, the community without considering surveilling government tourists. Surveillance being the uninvited supervisory attention at normal events; which do not necessarily require it. 

The intent behind surveillance is always twofold: intimidation and potential incrimination.

You don't need to be a lawyer to effect change, but it helps tremendously to find a few as friends to discuss options. You can mitigate risks by taking a guided tour of your local government offices. Enroll in civics classes offered by local governing bodies to learn how systems work. Use appropriate methods and approaches for input, recommendations or to document grievances. You might learn new ways to effect change or make a positive impact.  This is a good way to avoid pitfalls that would compromise your freedom to get at reforms.   

Above all else, find your small group of like minded people to settle in with for creative problem solving.  These will be the people who tend to want to help the most when you hit the wall, need to revisit the white board or just need to keep throwing spaghetti at the wall.  They just keep working on it because it is still a problem. Treat them well. Take care of them and they will take care of you.

Continue living the correct path

The Boston bombings refreshes memory on how US criminal proceedings may occur.  We know the US military went door to door in search of suspects, overlooking Habeas Corpus and bending the 3rd Amendment. We know increased military presence at events may have been manipulated to forcibly guide local cooperation from authorities without due process. The press, although they are not criminal justice professionals, print who is guilty of crimes whether or not a criminal trial has occurred.

The United States, under President Obama, does abuse its power and pick on those most politically convenient to criminalize: the press, political opponents, stressed geopolitical rivals, whistleblowing civil servants, errant military intelligence officers or American citizens in the wrong place at the wrong time. You may be innocent, within your rights and the rules of law and still end up in a cage, injured, or worse, dead.

This is why anonymous speech is one of the best protections in direct actions, on the web or off.

Encourage the hearts of your friends and decent strangers to remember that in a free society The People  enable themselves to adjust government practices or initiate reform. Reforms are qualified when the government injures the wellbeing of its citizens and residents. 

Try to maintain spiritual courage to live by your truth, even if your hiding. The best revenge is being happy.

All governments have problems to work on. Surveillance takes far more from the people than it gives. Secret government meetings, invasive Executive Orders, an unaccountable National Security State, the Homeland Security Act, the Patriot Act, FISA, The Real ID Act, emergent Internet kill switch and copyright dragnets cast a constant shadow of accusation onto the general public. Mass surveillance is a phantom predator. It takes the blessing of a mutual trust away from The People and the government. 

We still sit in the drivers seat. It is a good time to initiate positive civil liberty reforms. Change in Obama’s America can and should favor Libertines.

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