It’s a gorgeous day in Ottawa, as far as the weather goes. It was good to get out and breathe a bit today—life hasn’t let up, but being in the sun usually puts it in another light.
Surveillance and privacy are big in the news the last little bit. But when haven’t they been these past few years?
- What is the potential for inequity in how we use technology to respond to COVID-19? (This link via this thoughtful thread by Amos Toh, which includes more links on these questions.) And what are some of the dangers in permitting police to use ever more invasive forms of surveillance? (All the links in this paragraph are via @hypervisible, a key voice on the intersection of surveillance, data, and discrimination, among other topics.)
- Consumer companies like Tim Hortons are tracking you in even more detail than you thought. (Remember that New York Times piece on location tracking? Well, here we are….)
- I wonder, yet again, what role “community consent” might play in these conversations, as a more nuanced version of the (brittle) “individual opt in/opt out” solution often offered up.
- And what happens when companies that enable consumer surveillance—Facebook, in this case—buy out police forces, allowing them to harass local communities?
- A recent Research Evaluation Data Ethics for Black Lives symposium (h/t to Sam for sharing this at work) dove into, among many other topics, the intersection of surveillance, policing, and being Black in Canada.
The last link, coupled with a growing discussion around defunding the police, brings us to these two. It’s on us to watch the police while demanding and building non-violent futures:
- I can’t say it better than the headline: “Defunding The Police Will Save Black And Indigenous Lives In Canada”. Sandy Hudson, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto, lays out cogent, concise arguments (with links for more) on the problems with policing and the possibilities stemming from defunding police services, with a particular emphasis on the Canadian experience. It’s excellent.
- If you want to take action on policing, there’s a great set of steps in this piece, “Welcome to Black Canada: How to take action”.
In Ottawa, this conversation is… going about as you’d expect from this city council.
- Councillor Rawlson King put forward a (rather mild) motion “to examine a public engagement process concerning police reform”.
- This followed a rather unsurprising exchange on defunding the police between councillor Shawn Menard and mayor Jim Watson, with the former in support and the latter, well, politicking.
I’m looking forward to what comes of Rawlson King’s recent appointment as “Council Liaison for Anti-Racism and Ethnocultural Relations Initiatives” (though this work seems woefully underfunded…).
- The councillor has a history of presenting well-researched, well-articulated positions, as with his justification of his urban boundary vote.
- He recently summarized the history and present of systemic racism in Canada, while looking ahead to taking concrete steps in Ottawa (or, in text form, read a discussion of those concrete steps).
- That said, for so many reasons, Rawlson King can’t carry this alone—I’m grateful for those councillors that have already demonstrated their support; I’m hopeful that more will do so as the conversations get realer, and harder. It’s also on us, for those of us who live in Ottawa, to engage with our city and its politics, exhausting though it can be.
That’s it from me for today. Friends, as Tatiana Mac noted, beware of burnout and practice “sustainable strategies for activism”. All the best for the week ahead.