The Need to Know (en)

Fr. 22. November 2013 –  19:30,  IG Architektur, Gumpendorferstraße 63b, 1060 Vienna

The Drift Towards Universal Surveillance:

Steve Wright (UK) on the new age of truly global surveillance and tracking with state capability sets that even the Stasi and George Orwell did not imagine. What are the long term, social and political ramifications of such capabilities and how can we successfully resist when they go beyond the limits of the law?

We Should Take Nothing for Granted: 

On the building of alert and knowledgeable citizenry. Dr. Bruno Taut (RU) will explore the depths, perils, challenges and the bliss of the decrypted century.

Screening: Marko Peljhan (SI/US) presents documents from the SPEKTR! Vaults

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The Drift Towards Universal Surveillance

In 1998 and 2000, the European Parliament Science and Technological Options Assessment (STOA) published detailed analysis of the illegal activities of the US National Security Agency’s spying activities in Europe. The Parliament set up the Temporary Echelon Committee, which confirmed the serious allegations that the Echelon spying network existed and was siphoning off telephone calls. Email messages for political and economic gain. However, since it reported in September 2001, the core messages of accountability were largely lost in the clamor surrounding demands for new surveillance powers and capacities  in the so called US ‘war against terror.’ The summer 2012 revelations by Edward Snowden of the breath taking  extent of US spying capacity have shown that we have entered a new and disturbing era where one state has unprecedented power to spy on all others, ostensibly for defense purposes but in practice for political and commercial advantage. We have entered a new era of global surveillance which is almost beyond imagining. Given that the rise of these new American capacities was accompanied by deception and cover up of US practices of torture, kidnap and extrajudicial execution in the ensuing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, trust in any assurances about legal safeguards has been massively eroded. What now lies in store if civilian concepts of legality and proportionality have been replaced by military doctrines and metaphors of “battle-spaces which see?”

Steve Wright

Dr Steve Wright is A Reader in Applied Global Ethics at Leeds Metropolitan University. He has worked for many years on policing and security issues, having been the Head of Manchester City Council’s Police Monitoring Unit, (which watched local police activities); Director of the Omega Foundation, (which tracked corporates who armed tyrannical regimes); and Chair of Privacy International (which challenges the drift into our current surveillance society). He is best known for his work for the European Parliament in exposing the NSA spy network Echelon but he is also an expert on sub-lethal weapons systems and torture and has sat as an expert on both the European Commission’s Ethical and Societal Impacts of Security Panel and the Torture Technology Exports Panel. He is currently a Board member of the ICRAC group which opposes autonomous weapons technologies and teaches undergraduate and postgraduate courses on advanced surveillance and state security paradigms in Leeds, UK.

Marko Peljhan

Peljhan is Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies, Media Arts and Technology Program at University of California. A native of Slovenia Peljhan founded the arts and technology organization Projekt Atol in the early 90’s and cofounded one of the first media labs in Eastern Europe, LJUDMILA in 1995. In the same year, the founded the technology branch of Projekt Atol called PACT SYSTEMS where he developed a Global Positioning System based participatory networked mapping project. He has been working on the Makrolab, a project that focuses on telecommunications, migrations and weather systems research and is coordinating the Arctic Perspective Initiative art/science/tactical media project. He installed several communications mapping and interception systems and projects for World and his research led him to map the command and control communications networks and response during the Srebrenica genocide. This technology underpins performative works such as Signal-Sever and SPEKTR!