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The Relentless “Eye”: Local Surveillance

Local Surveillance: Its impact on human rights and its relationship to national and international surveillance. Statements by grassroots organizations compiled by May First/People Link The document was initially submitted to the United Nations Rapporteur on Privacy and is now being released publicly. It is the first compilation of local organizations' statements on surveillance and a look at a strategically critical area of movement work.

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Introductory Statement from May First/People Link

While the bulk of the attention by movements for change is on national and international privacy and surveillance policies, we too often tend to ignore an equally disturbing threat: local police surveillance.

In most major cities of the United States (and many throughout the world), we are under almost constant surveillance: street cameras, police surveillance equipment, spy cams in stores and other frequented places, capture of data and email, capture of cellphone data. Most of us know this and, because it's become a way of life, we tolerate it.

The data captured is used in all kinds of repressive ways: in criminal investigations and arrests, in damaging reputations (as was the case with Michael Brown), in refusing people employment, in affecting school applications, impacting on government and public assistance.

However, what is most disturbing (and most relevant to the conversations we are having with the Rapporteur), this data is shared with authorities nationwide and internationally, including federal authorities (like the NSA), through data sharing agreements and "fusion centers" (dedicated to facilitating the combining and sharing of local, state and federal information on people).

This is a profile of a police state and it's real. But there's a flip side.

The most aggressive and impassioned opposition to surveillance is taking place in local struggles all over the country in cities like New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago and so many others: grassroots organizations in cities and towns that are taking this issue on.

We are offering, with this package, some statements from some of the grass-roots (and national) organizations struggling against local surveillance abuses.

We believe this issue, this material and this consideration should be part of any conversation and report on the issue of privacy and surveillance.

Participating organizations' URLs:

Color of Change

STOP LAPD Spying Coalition

Media Alliance - California

Generation Justice - New Mexico

Media Mobilizing Project -Philadelphia, PA

Champaign Urbana -Indymedia Center - IL

Media Action Grassroots Network

National Lawyers Guild - LA Chapter