Security Culture Tips: Informants, Snitches, Surveillance Capitalism, and the Evil Faceboogle

While our project on security culture has taken longer than expected, we are enthused to see other comrades stepping up to the plate. Check out Submedia’s analysis of modern day security needs Trouble #5: You Are Being Watched

While surveillance and security challenges for activists in 2017 can feel overwhelming, they end with a bright note:

“Don’t overestimate the state surveillance capacity. Don’t underestimate it but don’t overestimate it. They know some things, but they don’t know shit. Their intelligence gathering — unless you are absolutely ‘the target’, is not very good. Each bureaucracy is doing its own intelligence gathering, has its own chain of command, and intelligence tends to stay in each of those bureaucracies so it becomes trapped in like a silo. … They absolutely cannot stop encryption.”

So, it sounds like the powers that be are encumbered by their own hierarchy! Also:

“Security culture at its core involves knowledge and understanding. Developing personal relationships, face-to-face relationships, affinity groups, trusting friendships and comraderie is probably the most effective form of security culture that we have. Things like Brandon Darby create media sensation for us because they are so rare, because it costs so much in resources for them to actually do infiltration, for them to actually do the heavy surveillance.”

Also, bear in mind that as much as they can gather intelligence, there is a difference between data collection and effective data analysis. Especially with the sheer amount of data to sift through, signals intelligence is hard to do, and the results may not always be accurate. In an article on The Intercept detailing the flaws of facial recognition, it was noted by several organizations including The Innocence Project, based here in Boston, that:

More than half of the exonerations analyzed by the Innocence Project have involved cases where forensic experts cited flawed or exaggerated evidence, and in 2009 a landmark paper by the National Academy of Sciences stated what many had long suspected: Apart from DNA testing, no other forensic method could reliably and consistently “demonstrate a connection between evidence and a specific individual or source.” The report launched the forensic science community into a crisis of interpretation, with many questioning whether its methods should be deemed “sciences” at all.

So remember, no need to cave to paranoia. Build trust. Practice security culture, stop snitching, use more encryption, and donate to us so we can help more people stay out of prison!


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