Are liberals truly apathetic when it comes to private security firms spying on American citizens? Do we value our social media “lives” over our personal freedom? What was life really like before FaceBook, Twitter, Tumblr and the thousands of other places we all “hang out” online?
A lot of people, including activists, live-tweet their meetings and events. Other private citizens who are high-profile on social media use companies like Foursquare to check in to places they frequent. Movements like Occupy have used technology to organize flash mobs quickly to protest many events, but they’ve also given the government an easy “heads up” about smaller, local groups that have assembled. There was a lot of outrage over the infiltration of “vegan potlucks” in 2008. How many Facebook events do you think the FBI has infiltrated via informants? Or do they only check the “Maybe attending” box on Facebook?
Our activity on social media leaves us vulnerable to not only government spying, but corporate spying. Unions were the object of social media surveillance and infiltration by HB Gary, paid by the Chamber of Commerce to subvert efforts against Chamber members. This wasn’t your run-of-the-mill hashtag tracking program, either – HB Gary had an in-depth spy-like operation running against everyday activists.
This operation included a full-fledged smear campaign meant to discredit everyday activists, a tactic rarely used against small citizen-led groups but often employed in the cut-throat world of corporate lobbying and politics.
Bank of America had a similar spy-like operation, although there’s no evidence of attempted frame-ups, they did keep tabs on the traces that activists left on the internet, and a leak by the hacker collective Anonymous showed internal communications from their private security firm that showed that something as simple as a petition or phone call campaign was viewed as a “cyber threat” that required attention.
Also interesting to note in regards to the BOFA leak: People who snap Instagram pics of a broken ATM or other bank property are short-listed as suspects when it comes to damages at the location – in one leaked email, surveillance footage was pulled to match the customer to their Twitter account.
Unfortunately, as is often the case with technology, new methods of data gathering and collection appear to be legal until they are ruled Unconstitutional in a court of law. The government has no laws against corporations spying on the people. Until the day privacy laws are enacted to protect internet users, rather than the corporations and the government officials, we’ll hear about more of these incidents.
Let’s hope that activists that use social media are taking the proper precautions. Not sure how to do that? Start here, be safe, and be aware.
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- CISPA Will Legalize PRISM Spy Program (activistpost.com)
- Government Spying: Should We Be Shocked? by Ron Paul… (madashelland.wordpress.com)
- The Funniest Tweets About The PRISM Government Spying Scandal (businessinsider.com)
- David Petraeus At Bilderberg to Craft “Big Data” Spy Grid (rinf.com)
- Verizon: Spy Order Prevents Us From Admitting to Spy Order (news.antiwar.com)