You Know What? Be The 0.001%.

By standing up for surveillance reform and privacy now, you can achieve wonders.

You only need a few people who really care to start making a real difference.

There are a lot of people who think that we can do nothing to prevent the US from turning into a Chinese-style surveillance dystopia. There are even more who feel daunted by the power and influence of the surveillance agencies and major tech companies, like there’s nothing they can do.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

We’re a small, if growing, movement. At any one time in the Boston area, there are probably only two hundred people taking meaningful actions to limit the free hand of police, FBI, DHS and NSA to stop, search and surveil us. If we’re talking people who make it their full-time job, then within the whole Boston area, we’re probably talking fewer than five people.

But despite these small numbers, our cause is both popular and just. Wherever we advance our proposed ordinances and by-laws, people like them by huge majorities. Cambridge and Somerville both now have surveillance oversight ordinances and bans on law enforcement use of facial recognition. Brookline, Arlington and many other places are working on similar measures. We’re already at 200,000 people just in Greater Boston who are protected in some measure from the surveillance state.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

Margaret Mead

Truth is, you don’t need a majority. You need a few committed people, as few as one in ten thousand people, to start having an effect.

Extinction Rebellion began with just one courageous 15-year-old. Imagine what our small band could do with one more pair of hands…yours. Sign up and follow us below the fold to find out what’s going on this week.

Following on from the successful passage of Somerville’s surveillance oversight ordinance last week, next week is a key week for hearings on bans of government use of facial recognition, and it would be great if we can have a presence at them. Please get in touch if you can come to any of them, and especially if you’re willing to testify.

Next Monday afternoon at 1pm, at Boston City Hall, there will be a City Council debate on whether to forbid masked protests. This illiberal measure seems like it comes straight from Premier Xi, but in fact is the proposal of City Councilor Tim McCarthy, who proposed this as an actual policy response to the police riot against counterprotesters at the August 31 Straight Pride Parade. Councilor Kim Janey has emphasized that the debate should include discussion of Boston PD’s use of facial recognition technology.

On Tuesday afternoon at 1pm, at the State House (hearing room A-1), a lengthy Judiciary Committee hearing will begin that will include discussion of the proposed statewide temporary moratorium on government use of face surveillance and other biometric technologies. In view of this important meeting, we are canceling our usual Tuesday Digital Fourth meeting at Tatte, and will be at room A-1 from 12pm to put on T-shirts and stand in solidarity to call for the Commonwealth to #PressPause on this technology. Come join us there!

Last, on Wednesday evening, Brookline will be having a meeting of its Public Safety Subcommittee at 6pm, to consider its recommendation on regulating law enforcement use of facial recognition technology in Brookline.

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