e.Woke #67: Step Aside Mass Incarceration, There’s a New Sheriff in Town!

        Welcome to e.Woke #67: Step Aside Mass Incarceration, There’s a New Sheriff in Town!

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You’ve heard of slavery. You’ve heard of Jim Crow. Get ready for the next systemic oppression of black and brown bodies: e-monitoring. Yes, loyal readers, e.Woke is officially back and returning to our regularly scheduled digital twilight zone updates! Up first, we delve into the annual Color of Surveillance conference hosted by the Georgetown University Law Center in DC. Big thanks to our friends over at MediaJustice and Free Press for co-presenting this increasingly vital conference this year. This years’ sponsors include The Center on Poverty and Inequality Economic Security and Opportunity Initiative, the Workers Rights Institute, and the Institute for Technology Law and Policy. Now, let’s get into the nightmare that is e-monitoring and how it affects poor and working people.

The Color of Surveillance Conference 2019

Each year, the Georgetown Law Center convenes the Color of Surveillance conference, the nation’s leading conference on the disparate impact of government surveillance on historically marginalized communities. This year’s theme, Monitoring of Poor and Working People, focused on questions about the role race and ethnicity play in justifying surveillance; and, how has technology normalizes and propagates this surveillance. Through elevating the voices of working people, labor advocates, artists, and historians, this year’s conference looked back to the evolution of the myth of the “untrustworthy worker.”

If you missed the conference, no worry! Check out these helpful notes, attendee Gabrielle LaMarr LeMee, typed up throughout the day. Feeling inspired? You can also check out the official Color of Surveillance reading list of 2019. Special shoutout to co-organizer, Professor Alvaro Bedoya, who was interviewed here at GJ just this past summer. His co-authored book, “The Perpetual Line-up: Unregulated Police Face Recognition in America,” about the Georgetown Law Center’s year-long investigation, revealed most American adults are enrolled in police face recognition databases. Be sure to check it out!


Photo by Jase Bloor on Unsplash.

A Solution to Extensive Workplace Surveillance

Starting the conference off with a bang! Co-organizer Gabrielle Rejouis (Georgetown Law Center on Privacy and Technology) , debuted this discussion draft on a bill to combat unethical surveillance in the workplace. Rejouis writes, “the Worker Privacy Act is a draft bill developed by the center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law to prevent invasive worker data collection and increase worker control over workplace data.” The bill protects employees from invasive collection of their personal data, and demands transparency around employer’s data practices through the Department of Labor.

Photo by Medium: Points, Data & Society.

Rethinking the impact of automation and surveillance on farm workers

Is slavery ever really gone, or is it just the guest worker program in a wig? Next up is, Chris Ramsaroop’s article, Surveillance in the Fields,  which sparked his role as a Color of Surveillance panelist. “Technology has significantly altered many jobs along the food chain, starting with agricultural work…However, in an industry where the issues of race, gender, and immigration status intersect, automation has a disproportionate effect on migrant workers of color and immigrant communities who work in these particular jobs.” Let’s not overlook the parallels between the surveillance of migrant workers and warehouse workers. As Ramasaroop argues, “surveillance technologies are utilized to regiment workers to determine their pace at work and their production levels, much like what we see in warehouses.” When companies are looking out for production rate, who’s looking out for the workers?


Photo by MediaJustice: #NoDigitalPrison

Challenging E-Carceration in California

From the #NoDigitalPrison blog, we take a look at groups coming together across the country to address the growing surveillance state, courtesy of technological advancement. “‘Challenging E-Carceration in California and Beyond’ was an important step in recognizing the potential of organizing on this issue by bringing together experts and advocates across sectors to fight the encroachment of this carceral technology. While electronic monitoring is not the main focus of most organizations operating in the criminal legal and immigration spaces, [we] need to pay more attention to its expansion and potential to reshape the lives of communities of color…” However, this powerful convening of organizers and activists look to the future in strategy and action to halt surveillance state purveyors in their steps. MediaJustice states, “we intend to build on the connections formed in this gathering to deepen our understanding of where these surveillance devices are headed and how we can mobilize …to reverse the advance of this punitive technology.”


Photo by Ella Baker Center

How Surveillance Harms Low-Income People and Workers

Hot off the (Free) Presses! As of yesterday, our friends, and the co-presenters of the conference, give their take on the event. Summing up recurring themes throughout the day about the “erosion of American’s social-safety net,” Free Press highlights how academics, policy advocates, and activists share their stories. In their words, the conference, “brilliantly explains how the state and the boss use surveillance tools to disrupt political movements and perpetuate inequality.” Thank you Sandra Fulton!


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