The top lawyer for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in the United States has come out strongly against workplace surveillance and management technology that may be used to disrupt union organizing and discourage whistleblower complaints. Jennifer Abruzzo, who is general counsel for the NLRB, wrote a memo in October that was sent to officials at the agency’s regional offices. Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, which was passed in 1935, protects the “right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.”
A few months after Narendra Modi was re-elected in 2019, India’s Parliament passed a discriminatory bill extending citizenship to refugees from six religious minority communities, except for Muslims from the neighboring countries of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Following the controversy, a series of protests erupted across the country. The capital city of Delhi witnessed ghastly communal riots, as members of the minority Muslim community were targeted by far-right groups that rallied in support of the bill. To identify the alleged “rabble rousers and miscreants,” including the protesters, law enforcement officials acknowledged using what they called the Automated Facial Recognition System.
Exciting news guys! Amazon has created a new robot, the Astro, to spy on people in their homes – and this one is smarter and sneakier than the Alexa. Tanya Basu of MIT Technology Review reports, “Amazon has a new plan for its home robot Astro: to guard your life … The cute home assistant could be the most powerful, invasive home robot we’ve seen thus far.” It might be cute, but you have to ignore the fact that it’s watching you while you’re on the toilet and zapping your dog for getting in the way. “Amazon announced Wednesday that its home robot, Astro, will be getting a slew of major updates aimed at further embedding it in homes – and in our daily lives,” Basu continues. That’s not cute, it’s terrifying! Why does it have its own drones? Nothing that comes with drones is your friend. I don’t care if it’s a Dunkin’ Donuts Rainbow Cupcake. It shouldn’t have drones!
In 1969, American Indian Movement (AIM) activists occupied Alcatraz Island, invoking the Sioux Treaty of 1868, which grants unused federal lands to indigenous groups. Over the next several years, AIM also occupied the Mayflower. And Mount Rushmore. And the Bureau of Indian Affairs. And Wounded Knee. And other sites across the United States emblematic of the ongoing refusal of the American government to fulfill treaty obligations. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, AIM became the vanguard of indigenous liberation. They fought back against police violence, illegal seizure of land, and the economic marginalization of indigenous people. Through direct action, formation of patrols documenting police abuses, and other confrontational tactics, AIM brought media attention to long-neglected issues relating to indigenous sovereignty and abuses at the hands of the state.
Whether you’re working in a warehouse or piano factory, processing insurance claims, or taking care of patients, the use of worker productivity monitoring continues to expand. Workplaces where jobs are monitored and measured—and workers required to meet certain performance metrics—pose a particular set of challenges for stewards. Most historians recognize Fredrick Winslow Taylor and his 1911 book The Principles of Scientific Management as the genesis of these schemes. Taylor’s technology was basic by today’s standards: clipboards and stopwatches. Frank and Lillian Gilbreth (of Cheaper by the Dozen fame) expanded on this by using frame-by-frame film study of workers performing tasks with a specially calibrated “microchronometer,” documenting worker micro-motions and the time they took.
Janine Jackson: In March of this year, John Miller—then deputy commissioner of intelligence and counter-terrorism for the New York Police Department—told a New York City Council meeting that “there is no evidence” that the NYPD surveilled Muslim communities in the wake of September 11, 2001—”based,” he said, “on every objective study that’s been done.” At that point, media had extensively documented the unconstitutional discrimination of the NYPD’s so-called “Demographics Unit,” including installing police cameras outside mosques, and reporting store owners who had visible Qurans or religious calendars. And the NYPD had agreed to disband the unit in the face of multiple federal lawsuits.
Seals was shot to death in 2016, then set on fire in his car in an unsolved murder. Local St. Louis media outlet the Riverfront Times obtained a declassified copy of the more than 900-page FBI report on Seals. The FBI fully redacted approximately 860 of the pages, and partially redacted parts of the remaining roughly 45 pages. In the report, the FBI called Seals “a self-described revolutionary who has espoused somewhat militant rhetoric and has access to weapons.” The Riverfront Times article shows how the FBI used local police to harass Seals. In June 2016, the activist was “investigatively detained” by local police who pulled over Seals in his car on FBI orders. Seals had proudly described himself on his Twitter account as a “Revolutionary, Activist, Unapologetically BLACK, Afrikan in AmeriKKKa.”
In this episode of The Watchdog, former Google employee Ariel Koren joins Lowkey and articulates her experience at the big tech giant, claiming it has gradually developed an institutionalised pro-Israeli bias. She also reveals ways in which employees attempting to hold the company accountable for unethical contracts, such as that of Project Nimbus, are being targeted and intentionally silenced. Google, alongside Amazon, has signed a contract worth $1.2 billion, titled “Project Nimbus”, which will provide a cloud system service for both the Israeli military and the Israeli government. Disturbingly, the project was announced May in 2021, the same month Israel killed at least 260 Palestinians in Gaza. Adding insult to injury, it was during this period that Amnesty International found Israel guilty of practising Apartheid against the Palestinian people.
Google employees in Durham protested outside of their office Thursday afternoon, calling on Google and Amazon to stop working with the Israeli government and military. The protest, which included around 40 employees, was part of the national #NoTechforApartheid campaign, a movement based around a $1.22 billion project contract that Google and Amazon signed with the Israeli government in May 2021. Known as “Nimbus," the project intends to provide cloud support for Israel’s military and government. Google and Amazon signed the deal while Israel was conducting airstrikes in civilian areas of the Gaza Strip and forcibly evicting several Palestinian families from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.
On June 25, 24-year-old UPS driver Esteban Chavez Jr. collapsed in the back of his truck while working, and died. Temperatures in the Los Angeles area that day were in the high 90s. Hundreds of other UPS workers around the country suffer from heatstroke every summer, as UPS refuses to install air conditioning in its trucks or warehouses. In our own Teamsters Local 804 in New York City, a supervisor even told a driver who was suffering heatstroke while working not to call an ambulance, and tried to keep him from filing a workers comp claim. Later that day the driver was hospitalized for heatstroke. And, though we have a contractual right to have at least fans in our trucks, in New York City UPS refused to install fans for months.
Four U.S. citizens who were surveilled by the C.I.A. during visits to WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange in the Ecuador embassy in London have sued the C.I.A, former C.I.A. Director Mike Pompeo, the Spanish security firm UC Global and its director David Morales Guillen for allegedly violating their constitutional rights protecting them from illegal searches and seizure. The lawsuit was filed at 8 a.m. Monday in the Southern District of New York federal court. Assange spent seven years in the embassy as a political asylee. He is being held on remand in London’s Belmarsh prison after the U.S. indicted him in 2019 under the Espionage Act for alleged possession and dissemination of defense information. Assange is awaiting a decision by the High Court of England and Wales on whether it will hear his appeal of the ruling by the High Court, signed by the home secretary in June, to extradite him to the United States.
From the outset, the gutting of Roe by Dobbs is so devastating for, of course, the constitutional reasons, that at one time, Roe codified and really affirmed that abortion was a basic right. Dobbs, in overruling that, overturning that, has laid open states to pick and choose whether they will allow abortion providers and individuals that kind of right. But we’re in a very different moment now in 2022 than we were in the 1970s, and that’s really because of the rise of the digital age. With it, as you mentioned in your opening, is that the Internet is our primary pathway for almost everyone, I think, to information, to healthcare to, you know, telehealth appointments. And so there are these huge questions now about how people will access both just information, and then who is going to have access to that data that we are all of us engaging in and creating a footprint for.
Canadian police and security forces have intensified their surveillance and harassment of Indigenous people in recent months in an effort to clear the way for the construction of two long-distance oil and gas pipelines in British Columbia, earning the condemnation of international human rights observers. “The Governments of Canada and of the Province of British Columbia have escalated their use of force, surveillance, and criminalization of land defenders and peaceful protesters to intimidate, remove and forcibly evict Secwepemc and Wet’suwet’en Nations from their traditional lands,” the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) wrote in an April 29 letter.
The U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) has released its Annual Statistical Transparency Report disclosing the use of national security surveillance laws for the year 2021—and to no one’s surprise it documents the wide-ranging overreach of intelligence agencies and the continued misuse of surveillance authorities to spy on millions of Americans. Specifically, the report chronicles how Section 702, an amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), that authorizes the U.S. government to engage in mass surveillance of foreign targets’ communications, is still being abused by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to spy on Americans without a warrant. Specifically, the report reveals that between December 2020 and November 2021, the FBI queried the data of potentially more than 3,000,000 “U.S. persons” without a warrant.
The Stop LAPD Spying Coalition is a community group rooted in the Skid Row community on Tongva/Gabrielino land, stolen territory known as Los Angeles. Over the past decade, we have been working to build power to abolish LAPD surveillance. This report grew out of that organizing and examines the relationships of policing and surveillance to displacement, gentrification, and real estate development. We study those relationships with a focus on the process that has always bound policing and capitalism together: colonization. We often hear that police are an occupying army in our communities. Throughout the history of imperialism and colonization, occupying forces have used surveillance to monitor and contain populations they deem threatening, all for the purpose of maintaining their violent rule.