|Maybe you heard about the tiny story in the media that the U.S. government has been collecting everyone's phone, email, chat, and social media information worldwide ? Ugh, but also yay to the daylight shining on these massive spying programs. And remember, just because we don't know about other government's programs, doesn't mean they don't exist. Here at Owl's Watch we are very sensitive about how data might end up in corporations or government hands, because we know what a leech or a security breach might result in for political opponents and activists in Countries of Origin, or asylum seekers' procedure in Countries of Arrival. Confidentiality and people's safety are and will remain our top priority at all times.|
But here's something new we want to raise your awareness about : why metadata matters.
Metadata, i.e. all the information about who you communicate with, how frequently, for how long, and from where, can be used to create a social map. One way this social map can be used to determine who the bridge
people are within social movements and campaigns, i.e., which people are the connectors.
Say that there is some really excellent, effective pro-migrants organizing going on, effective enough that the powers that be want to stop it. Using the metadata to make a social map shows them who the handful of people are that connect the Editors with the NGO activists and the trade-unions organizers.
|Even in really large campaigns, there are often only a handful of people who are the connectors, and without them communication, coalition, coordination, and solidarity will break down.It's not that it might break down, but it will. Corporations and governments even know how many of these bridge people they need to take out in order to disrupt a campaign. There are algorithms and academic papers written about it. What they haven't always known is who the heck these bridge people are.
Enter the metadata's social map, and they can easily and to an exacting degree see who the bridge people are they need to target. Who to follow and intimidate to stop their organizing. Who to have watched and legally prosecuted via any small legal infraction. Who to illegally entrap. Who to kidnap, torture, and kill. And let's not be naive and imagine that hasn't happened before and will not happen again. The collection of this metadata makes it all the easier.
Sounds paranoid ? Or are we at a point where nothing sounds paranoid anymore. So, what can we do about it ? Below are some clues about the tools we're implementing, as well as a set of tips and recommendations we strongly advise you to read carefully and consider when you want to communicate with other people in our network :