Video: How to protect your digital privacy during a protest

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pub. 04/2017

The Intercept has produced a three-minute video of tips to protect your identity, location, and communications from authorities who might surveil protestors or try to access your phone during arrest. If you’re off to a protest, even what you expect to be a peaceful one, it couldn’t hurt to spend a few minutes preparing.

The video is the beginning of a series, Cybersecurity for the People, that will cover other privacy and security measures regular folks can take as activists or to retain greater control over their everyday digital lives.

For more tips and resources, see the Resources lists, What to Do and What to Read.

United Airlines as test case: Their rules, our consequences

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Why am I posting this article, as distant as its subject seems from Trumpian politics?

Even though most readers may think United is getting beaten up aplenty in the press, in fact it is getting a virtual free pass as far as its rights to remove a paying passenger with a confirmed seat who has been seated. This seems to reflect the deep internalization in America of deference to authority in the post 9/11 world, as well as reporters who appear to be insufficiently inquisitive. And there also seems to be a widespread perception that because it’s United’s plane, it can do what it sees fit.

pub. 04/2017

The dominant American culture today is strikingly insistent that we all submit to authority, including corporate and contractual authority, no matter how convoluted, impossible, or unjust that authority.

That completely innocent black driver should’ve done what the cops said; getting shot to death was just the price of resisting. Those undocumented workers should’ve come in legally; their children being deported 30 years later was just the price of sneaking them in as babies. That person should’ve bought better health insurance; death or bankruptcy was just the price of buying the wrong plan.

It doesn’t matter whether the black driver really resisted, it doesn’t matter whether legal immigration was timely or even offered, it doesn’t matter whether other health insurance was affordable or even available. The people in power get to create the rules, we need to follow them–and if something goes wrong, it’s probably our own fault.

You don’t have to show the police your ID on a domestic flight

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It’s quite legal for law enforcement to ask for “voluntary” cooperation. Anyone who follows criminal-procedure cases, however, knows that “voluntary” in legalese does not mean what ordinary people think it means. Supreme Court caselaw makes clear that officers may block an exit and ask for ID or permission to search. They aren’t required to tell the individual stopped that he or she may refuse, and they have every incentive to act as if refusal may result in arrest.

pub. 02/2017