As we move into an uncertain future with an aggressively repressive Republican administration that is either ignorant of what civil liberties are all about, or is purposely ignoring them as obstacles in the way of implementing their agenda, we can be sure all means, legal and illegal, of spying on us will continue to be employed.
Anyone who has been involved in activism for any length of time becomes aware of this, and finds ways to deal with it. Most of us become resigned to not being able to do much about it other than be conscious of our own communications. There were more important things to worry about.
From the beginning of the Keystone Pledge of Resistance, everything we did was done openly, knowing we were being monitored. Many of us felt this openness was an important aspect of that campaign. Quakers, also, don’t like to be less than open and honest.
But we are living in different circumstances now, and need to think of how our communication might place others in jeopardy.
This applies specifically to situations involving those under threat of deportation. We need to be constantly vigilant that we don’t endanger those we are trying to help. We must avoid using people’s real names, photos, locations, meeting times, or descriptions of events or actions.
We must assume that every cell phone call and text message, every email, every social media post, is being cataloged by domestic surveillance forces.
But it goes far beyond that. Computer hackers can turn on the cameras and microphones in your computer, cell phone, and television. Appliances like refrigerators, washing machines, thermostats, home security cameras, etc., can be activated and monitored remotely. I don’t know the extent to which this is currently being done. If not widely, it will become more widespread soon.
Be aware that what you do and say in your own home may well be monitored if you are anywhere near your cell phone, computer, television, home security camera, refrigerator, etc.
Public security cameras, networked together, will continue to be deployed. That, along with continuous tracking of where we are by our cell phones’ GPS, provide continuous records of who is where, when.
The other part of this is that security/political forces are very aware of the crucial role social media is playing in resistance/organizing efforts. We have seen how live video feeds were blocked from the water protectors in North Dakota. I anticipate social media platforms will be forced to block certain content, or be taken down altogether.
We need to be developing different means of communicating. This is not the place to share about that. But I would urge you to discuss this, face to face, with your local allies very soon. When you meet to discuss this, I would encourage you to make sure there are no cell phones, computers, tablets, televisions or appliances in the room.