All up in G20′s grill…

It has been a ridiculously busy last bit, but I thought I’d try to get a few things down.

My research on social justice activists’ experience of and response to cybersurveillance in the lead up to the G20 is proceeding apace – I’m slowly gathering the stories of folks who’ve been followed and intimidated by law enforcement, and also those who’ve had their email cracked (ok that’s being dramatic: their email has been read), apparently because of their organizing activities.

Thursday morning (way too early) I did a bunch of interviews for a CBC radio program called Syndication. Metro Morning picked up the story after about 3 interviews, and I had a fun chat with Matt Galloway. (You can listen here).

Friday I was at the Digital Rights Roundtable, which was part of the launch of Ryerson’s new Law Centre. That was pretty interesting, and the first timeĀ  I’d seen Michael Geist talk (on net neutrality, no less). Other folks whose work I’d only read and finally got to hear from were Teresa Scassa and Sam Trosow. I also met Ryerson’s Catherine Middleton finally. She talked about the fake competitive nature of the broadband market. Lisa Austin, from U of T’s Faculty of Law, talked about the changing nature of privacy. “Is it about social withdrawal or securing conditions for social interaction and identity formation. We need to get away from thinking privacy is about things we conceal. Rather it’s about the kinds of revelation we want to engage in,” she said.

Saturday was PrivacyCampTO, which was nominally an unconference. The most wicked presentation was by Gordan Savicic, entitled Privacy by Deletion: The Web 2.0 Suicide Machine. This is a fantastically silly and witty project – and what I’m beginning to call software-as-critique. Savicic himself obviously has a sense of humour and seems to fuck around quite a bit. I got a little kick out of his refusal to use a projector, but just show us his computer screen, turning it around for us like a librarian reading a story at circle time. The take away? If you want to kill your digital self, it’s just a click away.

My talk got bumped to a later session because one presenter decided not to self-moderate (not very unconference-like) but that meant I got to present alongside Andrew Clement and Joseph Ferenbok, who talked about their research on the “enhanced” drivers licenses (EDLs) that many provinces introduced in advance of the new US border crossing requirements. I also got to connect with some rad folks, including my favourite pink-haired hacker, Leigh Honeywell (who had some sobering thoughts on internet privacy, being she’s a, and the awesome Kate Raynes-Goldie, a PhD student at York who organized the event.

I went straight from PrivacyCampTO to an organizing meeting for the G20 Alt Media Centre (the real one, not to be confused with the “official” Alternative Media Centre the one inside the fence. This is an amazing effort, the result of many months of organizing. I will write later about the major influence of Indymedia on radical media organizing, the G20 AMC included. The only thing missing are the tech activists. I’d argue they are what made Indymedia the phenomenon it was (and still is to some extent, especially in totalitarian regimes). The AMC has about one tech activist. A lot of work for one person… :/

Today I spoke at the People’s Summit on a panel I organized called Digitally Mediated Surveillance: Rights & Resistance. That drew a bunch of concerned folks – maybe 60 or so, with standing room only. My co-presenters Jonathon Goldsbie (Toronto Public Space Committee), Justin Saunders (Tao Communications) and Andrew Clement (disclosure: my boss) totally rocked it with their discussions CCTV and digital spying, and what we can do about it. You can see my slides here.

After People’s Summit I zoomed over to the AMC for an orientation meeting and then story meeting – a whopping four hours in a row. There was a lot of excitement from the indy media producers gathered, and I suspect things will go into the wee hours tonight, in preparation for the official opening of the AMC (and press conference at 10am) tomorrow.

More postcards from outside the fence to follow…

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