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Anonymous: Anti-surveillance protest tomorrow

The hacktivist group says a worldwide anti-surveillance protest will take a stand against what the ACLU has called "the surveillance-industrial complex."

Anonymous is planning a global protest tomorrow.

In a campaign called Operation Big Brother, the Worldwide Day Of Protest Against Surveillance appears to be plotting action from citizens in over a dozen countries in an organized effort against government use of surveillance systems such as Europe's INDECT and America's Trapwire.

Using a Google Map to pull in and track protesters by location, Operation Big Brother is supposed to visibly demonstrate what's going on during the protest. Yet little is known about how it will be implemented other than the suggestion, "IRL protest (...) unofficial information and defacing."

News of the protest is being shared on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Pastebin, while opt-in protest locations are being tracked with a Google Map.

The protest was announced in August after a WikiLeaks leak of private intelligence firm Stratfor's documents revealed the global use and implementation of American surveillance system Trapwire. It was first tacked onto a pre-existing European anti-government-surveillance protest, Stop INDECT.

But now on its Operation Big Brother Twitter feed and ancillary online outlets, Anonymous is hinting at bigger plans.

Information about the protest is being shared by Operation Big Brother (@OpBigBrother) and there is a #OpBigBrother Worldwide call to protest against Surveillance Systems Facebook Event Page.

Both Trapwire and INDECT combine various intelligent surveillance technologies with tracking and location data, individual profile histories from various sources (data mining and social media), and image data analysis (such as facial recognition -- Trapwire's video component) to monitor people.

Anonymous has released a new video describing its intent behind the protest.

The video voiceover states:

Dear activists for the protection of privacy, dear people from all over the world. We are Anonymous.

We call you to act now against overall Surveillance-Systems.

Worldwide governments are about to demolish Privacy with Systems like Trapwire and Indect. Those network surveillance technologies sniff the CCTV cameras, government databases and the Internet to identify people and make a profile of citizens, their families and their socializing.

Trapwire is used by private entities, the U.S. government, "and its allies overseas."

In mid-August when the Google Map and Operation Big Brother became public there was only a small cluster of pins indicating participants for the October 20 protest only in Europe.

Now, people in dozens of cities in 15 countries around the globe have joined the protest against government use of the surveillance technologies on citizens. Countries include Germany, the U.K., the United States, Australia, Russia, Philippines, Venezuela, and Pakistan.

Trapwire and INDECT's opponents believe that the surveillance systems to be direct threats to privacy and certain civil freedoms and that their implementation could constitute human rights violations.

The ACLU this summer called Trapwire "deeply problematic" and elaborated on the term "the surveillance-industrial complex," saying:

It's always surprising when security agencies feel they can activate far-reaching surveillance tools without any public knowledge or debate.

We're supposed to be living in a democracy; that's what these security agencies are supposed to be protecting--they shouldn't be helping themselves to dramatic new powers over citizens whenever the latest technology makes that possible.

Just this week, the ACLU commented on San Francisco law enforcement using a subpoena to get location information on a suspect via the city's public transit Clipper Card database. Chris Conley, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California said, "As with all location information, Clipper cards can tell quite a bit about a person -- it could show that a person got off BART at a rally."

California Watch wrote:

Many cardholders might not realize that data tracking their every move on public transit is stored on computers and available to anyone with a search warrant or subpoena. Personal data can be stored for seven years after a Clipper account is closed, according to the commission's policy.

Regardless of the outcome of tomorrow's planned protest, the push by Anonymous shows a keen and persistent interest in pushing back the reach of surveillance technologies.