Category Archives: Uncategorized

Security issues that caught our eye | 2nd week of October

Here’s an article describing the early impact of Pennsylvania law enforcement’s upgraded and integrated facial recognition capabilities. The system is able to interact with images of persons of interest taken from, e.g. social media accounts, ATM cameras, and other privately owned surveillance systems by running them against the state-wide database of mugshots. If no mugshot match is found, the scraped photo can be put on a watch list, and an investigator will be notified if a matching mugshot is taken some time in the future.

Systems along these lines appear to be the fate of the future. They also appear to based on the assumption that private interests will pay for an install their own surveillance systems, and that law enforcement will be able to access them as needed. The concept of “warrant” does not appear in the article.

This opinion piece demonstrates something we’ve been following for a while — viz. the development of the concept of “security.” Where there was once clear distinction in public discourse between (a) personal security as it relates to national security and geopolitics and (b) personal security as it relates to public health, the post-9/11 world has collapsed that distinction. As you’ll see in this article, the distinction between the catastrophe of a microscopic phenomenon (ebola) and a more macroscopic phenomenon (violence in a continually unsettled Middle East, and the extremism it has engendered) is gone. Both are labeled under the banner of “terror” and “security threat”

After a move away from such a system, there’s been a recent re-growth of for-profit detention centers along the US-Mexico border.

Security issues that caught our eye | 4th week of September

This week, NPR published a worthwhile think piece on how police officers use force. Kaste, the author, examines the issue through contrasting styles — one which teaches strategies of de-escalation, and others which call for “swift and sure” actions to bring situations under control.  This article connects to larger discussions on how our environment has been militarized after September 11th. (It’s interesting to note the absolutist language in the adherents of the “swift and sure” method. Is there a real-world scenario in which they would be unable to justify their actions?)

This week, the high-level discussions on the ebola outbreak took an interesting turn when President Obama addressed the UN General Assembly. What are the consequences of framing the call to action in terms of “investments” and “national” security? How else might action be catalyzed? The power of Africa’s governing bodies has been redistributed and in some cases eroded by the ubiquitous presence and power of non-profit organizations, and while all of them are calling for more action, what does this suggest about hierarchies of power in Africa?

A group of Israeli intel soldiers refuse to serve in any capacity connected with the occupation of Palestinian territories. Something to keep an eye on.