A “broad-based and angry network”: Opposing surveillance and security measures post-9/11

Jennifer Joan Parisi
Communication Studies, Concordia University
September, 2008
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Jennifer Parisi completed her MA in Media Studies from Concordia University in Fall 2008 with a thesis entitled “A ‘broad-based and angry network’: Opposing surveillance and security measures post-9/11”. Her research interests include the social implications of technology and policy on privacy and human rights. She has coauthored with Gordon Gow “Pursuing the Anonymous User: Privacy Rights and Mandatory Registration of Prepaid Mobile Phones” (2008).
 

Abstract

This thesis examines recent anti-surveillance interventions by organized groups both in Canada and internationally. I look at three activist alliances, the International Campaign Against Mass Surveillance, the Surveillance Camera Players, and the Coalition Justice for Adil Charkaoui, in order to understand how they oppose surveillance and security initiatives, their positions on privacy and surveillance, and the challenges they face doing this work. I also ask what strategies are used, what avenues are available for dissent, and how these may be developed. In particular, I argue that broad-based, participatory social movements are necessary components in the politics of surveillance, because they are able to challenge existing systems. Based on my research, I consider some ideas and identities that may inspire opposition against the more egregious effects of surveillance. I contend that these concepts and affinities must be grounded in people’s experiences, and provide a means for self-empowerment and community self-reliance. They must also resonate with people’s desires and imagination by providing alternative possibilities to work toward. This thesis, through analysis and observation of these three activist groups, contributes to a vision for a movement against surveillance.
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