ID cards, injunctions, CCTV with voice activated alerts, national license plate monitoring, face recognition, directional microphones, network profiling, DNA databases, keylogging, phone taping, bugging and tracking, these are just some of the tools of repression being used against those battling to save the world from total domination and destruction.
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One might think that this is some cloak and dagger spy thriller, or orwellian distopia – but todays world is one of overt and covert surveillance and repression. The likes of you and me are the target and this is no paranoid delussion – they really are out to get us.
This was the stark reality presented at a top secret conference on activist security that took place this month. Meeting in a quite location somewhere near the coast, dozens of campaigners from around the country came together to learn about the technology and techniques being used by the authorities and private agencies as they attempt to gathering information and disrupt and destroy campaigns.
The aim of the gathering however was not to make everyone paranoid and feel helpless in the face of the technological assaults on our privacy, but rather to equipe people with the awareness and knowledge to enable them to take steps to reduce the risk to themselves and those they associate with.
The two day conference involved a wide variety of workshops, some discussion-based, some practical or computer-based. Lessons learned by those attending included the importance of ‘need to know’, the now proven fact that switching off a mobile phone is not enough to prevent it being remotely activated as a bug or tracking device. Also discussed was how to spot and loss a tail, how to trap and expose infiltrators, issues of security for campaign groups and their offices such as maintaining a secure contacts database. Computer based skills covered included encryption of stored data and electronic communication, and ways to use the internet for research etc without leaving a trace.
Mush of the information presented during the workshops came from the document ‘Practical Security Advice for Campaigns and Activists’ and this, along with the experiences and ideas contributed by the participants of the gathering are apparently going to be put together as a printed booklet for distrubution next year. Additionally there are plans for a ‘walls have ears’ style poster outlining basic precautions which can be displace in meeting spaces and social centres etc to remind people of the need to consider security.