“World Without Walls”

by zunguzungu

Much has happened in the last 36 hours, but, very coincidentally, the essay I wrote for the good people at Technology Review has gone online today, and I’d encourage you to check it out. It’s behind a pay-wall, but you can register and get three reading credits to read it if you’re not a subscriber (or get a subscription and read it in print!). The piece is about the changing nature and possibility of privacy, written first against the backdrop of both advancing technological innovations for information sharing and then against and about the Federal Government’s post-911 initiative to build an “Information Sharing Environment,” with fusion centers being the sort of beast that has evolved to live and thrive within it. And one concrete example of how fusion centers have been (mis)used just happens to be this anti-war protest in Oakland in 2003, in which a fusion center sent the Oakland Police Department some sketchy information, which then resulted in a totally disproportionate use of force against nonviolent protesters (eventually costing the city $2 million in court). Hmmm. It also gave us this gem of a quote from Mike Van Winkle of the California Anti-Terrorism Information Center (CATIC):

You can make an easy kind of a link that, if you have a protest group protesting a war where the cause that’s being fought against is international terrorism, you might have terrorism at that (protest). You can almost argue that a protest against that is a terrorist act.

Part of me wants to think such a statement could only happen in the immediate aftermath of 9-11, the run-up to the war in Iraq, and such things. And part of me wants to look at what happened yesterday, observe the increasingly indistinguishable nature of our internal and external “security” apparatuses, and say plus ca change…