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This is the global Anarchoblogs. It collects articles from many smaller community hubs within the Anarchoblogs network. For stories from particular places, groups, or other communities within our movement, check out some of these sites.

Opinión – Venezuela: Tendencias autoritarias y conflictos laborales latentes


Héctor Lucena

El pasado 23 de Julio el Presidente de la Asamblea Nacional encabezó delegación estatal que se traslado a Ciudad Guayana para fijar posición sobre el conflicto laboral de Sidor en ese momento en curso y tratar de buscar una solución. Pero sus planteamientos obraron en dirección opuesta. Sus descalificaciones y amenazas más bien soliviantaron los ánimos, que se tradujeron en reacciones de malestar obrero, declaraciones y masivas movilizaciones unitarias con y alrededor de los sidoristas.

 Daba la impresión que sin querer las palabras del Presidente de la AN lograron lo que pacientemente no ha sido posible por quienes hacen esfuerzos por avanzar en la reunificación del movimiento sindical. Pero  ello no es tan fácil, por lo que nos detendremos en escudriñar la complejidad de esta reunificación en el contexto de regímenes que obstaculizan la propia existencia del movimiento sindical.

El sindicalismo encuentra su mayor oposición en dos sistemas político-económicos que no le ofrecen o le limitan espacios para su desarrollo. Ellos son el neoliberalismo y el autoritarismo. El primero prefiere que el sistema económico se desenvuelva sin la interferencia de los sindicatos. Los considera perturbaciones y por tanto es mejor eliminarlos. Sin embargo dada la tradición existente y los logros alcanzados por esta institución, no puede eliminarlos, y finalmente el neoliberalismo establece límites y frenos para su mayor desarrollo.

En cuanto al autoritarismo, previamente conviene distinguir que por un lado tiene una nítida expresión militar pura sin origen electoral sino la victoria armada sobre el régimen anterior, que en este momento en América Latina sólo se observa en el caso de Cuba, sin espacio para la pluralidad sino al pensamiento único. Pero también se observa otra expresión que mejor llamamos tendencia autoritaria de naturaleza cívico-militar de origen electoral, como es el caso venezolano que al haber evolucionado por la vía electoral, convive en el marco de una sociedad que permite la coexistencia con tendencias críticas al régimen.

En el primer caso el sindicalismo es permitido pero como un instrumento del Estado. En nuestro caso coexisten tendencias que se comportan de esa manera como aquellas otras que manifiestan un comportamiento propio de sociedades plurales. Las primeras entienden que su apoyo al régimen es el camino correcto al mejoramiento de la clase trabajadora y junto a ello ceden su autonomía, llegando a sacrificar principios fundamentales así como conquistas históricas del movimiento de los trabajadores.

En este contexto se plantea que la organización y el desempeño del sindicalismo han de someterse a políticas estatales incluso aquellas que son contrarias al desarrollo sindical. La evolución electoral del régimen ha venido promoviendo y construyendo desde un primer momento una institucionalidad que gradualmente reduce los espacios y facultades de las organizaciones sindicales. Es por lo que tanto el neoliberalismo como el autoritarismo, en sus diversas expresiones, coinciden en el fondo en oponerse al desarrollo sindical. Por supuesto no se oponen de la misma manera. Los regímenes de orientación civico-militar de origen electoral, se consiguen al llegar al poder un desarrollo sindical anterior, por lo que ha de convivir con él, y es gradualmente en la construcción de nuevas institucionalidades como se propone ir restringiendo los espacios de acción del sindicalismo. En principio lo hace con la oposición abierta de los liderazgos sindicales que en el período político previo eran los conductores del movimiento de los trabajadores. Gradualmente el régimen los coopta, o en caso que éstos perseveren en posturas opositoras los enfrenta con represión y criminalización.

Por otro lado aquellos dirigentes contrarios al régimen anterior que en un principio adhieren entusiastamente al nuevo poder político y su institucionalidad, muchos de ellos gradualmente experimentan frustraciones y disensiones, pasando a formar una tercera posición. Obviamente todo esto abona a procesos de fragmentación ideológica y política, que en sí mismo representa una debilidad y es en el fondo una aspiración de la tendencia autoritaria.

Enfrentar la fragmentación y reconstruir una estructura sindical nacional y regional articulada es una tarea prioritaria del movimiento sindical autónomo. La muy alta conflictividad laboral que ha venido acrecentándose no ha logrado conquistas suficientes por la carencia de articulación entre sí. Por ejemplo las violaciones patronales y muy especialmente del patronato estatal, de las condiciones de trabajo, de la estabilidad laboral, de los convenios colectivos, de los sesgos de las autoridades laborales, y el deterioro de la calidad de la vida, son suficientes problemas para unas acciones más contundentes de movimiento de los trabajadores, sin embargo son contados los esfuerzos de estas acciones que se conectan entre centros de trabajo del mismo sector o de la misma región, porque los esfuerzos de la protesta son localizados y en muchos casos aislados.

Más grave que lo anterior es la afonía del movimiento de los trabajadores en temas macroeconómicos, que tanto determinan la situación en los centros de trabajo, empezando por el propio empleo. El régimen si apela a los trabajadores para que le apoyen, y a cambio otorga reivindicaciones de corto alcance, pero les obstruye su fortalecimiento y protagonismo en el diseño de políticas macroeconómicas.

En este marco de políticas fragmentadoras se ha tolerado en niveles extremos, que espirales de violencia hayan escalado las magnitudes que conocemos sin que el régimen se haya sensibilizado para implementar políticas y acciones que lo enfrenten. Ciertos sectores del mundo sindical han caído en manos del hampa, lo que no es un hecho natural y espontáneo. Es el resultado de una intervención errática de las políticas públicas en los asuntos internos del mundo sindical. Haber promovido indiscriminadamente desde el poder oficial organizaciones sindicales artificiales, tanto en la base como en las cúpulas, no es un hecho inocente. Ello tiene sus riesgos y consecuencias, que los paga en primer lugar el propio movimiento con sus víctimas, su imagen y desprestigio, así como el caos que deriva del uso de una violencia en principio ajena. Caos que igual se extiende al funcionamiento de los centros de trabajo, con perjuicio de toda la sociedad. Luego de haber llegado a este lugar, el régimen mira para otro lado y se ha cruzado de brazos, y lo explica con argumentos banales, como lo expuso un representante ministerial en OIT, que el problema era porque se construían muchas viviendas y los contratos colectivos eran buenos.

Indudablemente que en el movimiento sindical hay insuficiencias y errores, pero se trata de un problema que quienes activan en el movimiento han de resolver.  Entendamos que no es un asunto a ser resuelto por agentes externos, aunque sí es un asunto a ser discutido entre el movimiento y los sectores con los cuales se relaciona, sin menoscabo de su autonomía. Ya bastante interferencia externa en el marco del desarrollo político de las últimas décadas ha ocurrido con resultados nefastos. La aparente resolución del paro de Sidor, con la polémica firma del convenio colectivo sólo confirma la difícil relación entre el Estado y el Sindicalismo, dejando el conflicto latente.

[Fuente: http://hectorlucena.blogspot.com/2014/08/tendencias-autoritarias-y-conflictos.html.]

Opinión: Captahuellas, Derechos Humanos y Racionamiento

Luis AguanaAunque ya había escrito desde hace varios meses que el régimen desembocaría en el establecimiento de un mecanismo electrónico para administrar el consumo de alimentos (ver ¿Control del Racionamiento o de la Insurrección Popular?  …

Continue reading at El Libertario: Anarquismo y movimientos sociales autónomos …

Revista anarquista "Obra Negra" de México

Este mes de septiembre sale a la circulación el número 0 de esta publicación editada por el Colectivo Autónomo Magonista (Ver http://colectivoautonomomagonista.blogspot.com), afiliado a la Federación Anarquista de México. L@s compas explican así…

Continue reading at El Libertario: Anarquismo y movimientos sociales autónomos …

Be True To Yourself.


       Our pompous parasite class of privileged millionaires, and their mouthpiece, that babbling brook of bullshit, the mainstream media, continue their attempt to glorify and justify, the imperialist bloody land grab of 1914/18 with a biased phoney history. We will have distorted documentaries, plays and ceremonies, about how it was all justified, in an attempt to defend democracy. Of how we were the honourable side, and the other side were a despicable sub-human species. The reality was, those sent by the UK imperialists, to do the killing were bus drivers, farm labourers, office workers, shop assistants, plumbers, engineers etc., who they were sent to kill, were, bus drivers, farm labourers, office workers, shop assistants, plumbers, engineers, etc.. None of whom had ever known democracy in their entire life, all of whom, on both sides, were struggle to create a democracy, something the Imperialists could not tolerate.
     Prior to the Imperial slaughter of 1914/18, the UK, like the rest of Europe, was in turmoil, here in the UK from 1900 to 1914, the country was racked by a continual series of strikes that were noted for their militancy and refusal to follow union leaders dictates.


Troops paraded in the streets of Liverpool in an attempt to intimidate workers, 1911.


        This militancy shook the British capitalist state to its foundations and forced the Liberal government of Herbert Henry Asquith to increasingly turn to military means in an attempt to halt the strikes. While the most famous examples of Government militancy was the despatching of two warships up the River Mersey following the 1911 strike of seamen there are also plenty of other examples such as the use of troops during the rail strike of 1911 in an attempt to keep scab trains operating. This period saw workers militancy break out of the boundaries of bourgeois legality and begin to start to develop towards a more critical consciousness which questioned the very basis of capitalist rule.
      This then was the democracy that existed in the UK prior to the 1914/18 imperial bloody greed fest. Today we are still struggling to create that democracy, and today like then, it is the capitalist class that stands in our way. If only once again, the workers would create that 1911 critical consciousness, and that breaking out of the bourgeois legality.
       When we hear our lords and masters talk of war as a solution to their problems, we would do well to remember the words of Eugene V. Debs, as he was sentenced to 10 years in prison and stripped of his citizenship, in that "Land of the Free", the good ol' US of A, for speaking out against that all encompassing 1914/18 imperialist slaughter.
      “They have always taught and trained you to believe it to be your patriotic duty to go to war and to have yourselves slaughtered at their command. But in all the history of the world you, the people, have never had a voice in declaring war, and strange as it certainly appears, no war by any nation in any age has ever been declared by the people … Do not worry over the charge of treason to your masters, but be concerned about the treason that involves yourselves. Be true to yourself and you cannot be a traitor to any good cause on earth.”

Patriotism

No, I shall not die for the fluttering flag,
if truth be known, ’tis nothing but a multi-coloured rag
held aloft by some foolish hand
inciting worker and peasant to kill
on some green and wooded hill,
peasant and worker from some other land.
Nor shall I shed blood for the fluttering rag
that brings out fools to stand and brag
of brutal deeds painted grand,
deeds where rustic and craftsman lie so still
killed by my brothers' misguided hand.
No allegiance have I for the Nation
this man made autocratic creation
that divides my brothers in a world so small,
binds us to a country's cause, right or wrong,
bids us follow its drum, sing its song,
then sheds our blood in some border brawl.
No, I'll be no slave to flag or nation,
have no ear for power oration,
though its iron heel is on my breast,
my back feels its leather thong,
at patriotism's barracoon, I'll be no guest.

Visit ann arky's home at www.radicalglasgow.me.uk



The Weekly Libertarian Leftist and Chess Review 45

Patrick Cockburn discusses the failed War on Terror and the Saudi connection. Sheldon Richman discusses mission creep in Iraq. Lucy Steigerwald discusses proportionality in American law and order. A. Barton Hinkle discusses whether there could be more Fergusons or not. Scott Shackford discusses libertarian views on freedom of association and gay marriage. James Bovard discusses…

Continue reading at Center for a Stateless Society …

Perú: Protesta denuncia abuso y contaminación de minera china Chinalco

ServindiOrganizaciones sociales protestaron frente a la embajada china en Lima este 31 de agosto contra el proyecto minero Toromocho de la empresa de origen chino Chinalco, en Morococha, Junín y en respaldo a una dirigenta enferma de cáncer presuntam…

Continue reading at El Libertario: Anarquismo y movimientos sociales autónomos …

Please Consider Donating to Antiwar.com

Antiwar.com is having its annual fundraising drive. Antiwar.com is definitely a site worth donating to and visiting daily. Its been an indispensable source of information and opinion for me. There are always interesting editorials worth reading and plenty of news to inform you. Not to mention that it’s a single issue site that offers perspectives from across the political spectrum. You won’t get bored easily with the variety being offered.

Another strength of Antiwar.com is the quality of the in-house columnists. Whether you’re reading Justin Raimondo or Lucy Steigerwald; it’s sure to be interesting. These in-house writers make fine additions to the non-in house writers sourced from around the web. Lucy Steigerwald’s work is especially enjoyable and well written.

In addition to the above; Antiwar.com is run by anti-militarist libertarians. Those who appreciate our left-libertarian writing on here are encouraged to help further our anti-militarist stance via donating to Antiwar.com. Antiwar.com is not a left-libertarian site per se, but, it does valuable work that benefits left-libertarianism.

This valuable work includes sourcing news from a wide variety of sites. The kind of news you may not find in the mainstream media. It cuts through corporatist propaganda that serves the interests of the warfare state and political class. Such propagandistic shilling for war is in definite need of being countered. Antiwar.com is your go to resource for that.

Where the war party propagandists mentioned above consistently push war; Antiwar.com consistently pushes peace. The number of lives that could be saved by this unwavering advocacy of peace is high. Antiwar.com is doing its part to save lives from militarism and imperialism every day. This is especially crucial work in the age of extrajudicial drone assassinations and saber rattling at China.

Antiwar.com knows that the above mentioned imperialism and militarism is as much a part of Democratic Party practice as the practice of the GOP. It provides a critique of the war party across party lines. This is especially needed in a time when Obama has renewed the Iraq War started by a Republican president. Warmongering knows no party boundaries and neither should we critics of war know any such boundaries in our criticism.

Anti-militarist work that spares no one guilty of pushing warfare is worth donating to. If you have money to spare; please consider donating to Antiwar.com. You’ll be helping out countless victims of the American empire by bringing their plight to the attention of the public. A very worthy cause.

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International Courts vs. the Nation State

Amnesty International declared that the sentence passed by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, on a case in which the Guatemalan government did not investigate the tragic murder of a teenager, tells the whole world that violence against women will not be tolerated.

Maria Isabel Veliz Franco was 15 when she was sexually abused, tortured and brutally murdered in Guatemala in 2001. Her mother fought for justice and, on July 28, 2014, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that the Guatemalan authorities had not adequately investigated the murder, neglecting it in an environment of systematic violence and discrimination against women.

Sebastian Elgueta, a researcher from Amnesty International who writes on Guatemala, stated that the “lessons from this case will only be apprehended when the death of every women in Guatemala is taken seriously, and when concrete measures begin to be taken to prevent violence against them, creating a safe and respectful society for all.”

This tragic case highlights the importance of courts and rulings outside the nation state, for they judge whether governments are respecting so-called obligations they take upon themselves to respect human rights and hence legitimize their power.

The first case I researched in the jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court was also a Guatemalan case, Street Children (Villagran Morales et al) v. Guatemala.

I was already a libertarian then and I was actually surprised to see that the case of five kids killed by the police, which no doubt would’ve been ignored forever if it was up to the Guatemalan state, had been taken to an international independent court that would rule and sentence the state to compensate the families of the victims, investigate and punish the responsible and take measures to avoid that situation in the future.

The emergence of these courts is important in that it’s at least an independent power acting to limit the state and challenging the idea that the state is the final arbiter of our liberties and rights within its borders. The state here is faced with the awkward situation of being the defendant rather the accuser in a court that holds them up to the standard of actually respecting the rights they vowed to uphold.

In a Brazilian case of a mentally impaired patient, Damiao Ximenes Lopes, who had been neglected and died in a nursing home linked to the government health care system, the Brazilian state was condemned for lack of investigation of the occurrence. Another case involved the disappeared people from the Araguaia guerilla during the military dictatorship, where the Court understood that the Brazilian Amnesty Act, forgiving blatant violations of human rights committed by the dictatorship, was illegal, something I’ve touched upon in other article.

From a radical free market perspective, these international courts could allow us to argue that Brazil violates human rights for not allowing union freedom to its citizens.

The possibility exists because the Inter-American Court of Human Rights can evaluate rights violations listed in the American Convention on Human Rights, which deals with civil and political rights, but can also examine some of the provisions of the Protocol of San Salvador, that deals with economic, social and cultural rights. Among them, there’s this one:

Article 8
Trade Union Rights
1. The States Parties shall ensure:
a. The right of workers to organize trade unions and to join the union of their choice for the purpose of protecting and promoting their interests. As an extension of that right, the States Parties shall permit trade unions to establish national federations or confederations, or to affiliate with those that already exist, as well as to form international trade union organizations and to affiliate with that of their choice. The States Parties shall also permit trade unions, federations and confederations to function freely . . .

Since Getulio Vargas, Brazilian workers have had no freedom to unionize, for they must submit to “union oneness,” a legal monopoly that allows only one union to represent a given segment of workers in a territory. No wonder the largest unions in the country, CUT and Forca Sindical, are firmly aligned with corporate interests.

That’s also one of the reasons the Brazilian government doesn’t recognize the Convention No. 87 of the International Labour Organization. ILO in its own constitution establishes the freedom of union association, but by ratifying it Brazil would have to commit to the application of the principle in its work relations. Article 2 establishes that workers, without distinction and previous permission, have the right to constitute the organizations they deem convenient and to affiliate themselves to them, provided they respect their internal statutes. ILO’s Article 2 and PSS’s article 8 are very similar and are meant to protect a simple principle of union relations that the Brazilian government violates.

Should we secure a condemnation of Brazil in an international court for impeding the functioning of a free union, outside its monopoly system, that would be a very important step in calling attention of workers of this aburd denial of their righs to free association and better work conditions.

Thus, international courts may possess one of the few authorities a state might be forced to recognize, and we can use that to have it investigate the murder of street kids or to have it sentenced for not respecting workers’s rights to unionize the way they see fit. The means might not be radical, but the idea is: the state can’t have the last word on our lives and rights.

Legislative activism will not guide us to freedom, but there’s a law on our side, we might as well exploit it.

Translated into English by Erick Vasconcelos.

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Jubilados y pensionados: a la merced de los antojos gubernamentales


José Rafael Ruiz

Recientemente en el portal gubernamental de internet Gran Misión en Amor Mayor Venezuela (AMAV) nos encontramos con la siguiente información:

“El presidente de la república, Nicolás Maduro, desde el Palacio de Miraflores anunció a través de su programa, “En contacto con Maduro”, que esta noche (13/08/2014) será publicada la nueva lista con 8 mil beneficiados de las pensiones del programa Amor Mayor, para que circule próximamente en los medios nacionales”

“Además dijo, que después de un punto de cuenta que le entregaron, opto por aprobar 596 millones de bolívares para entregar 20 mil a los pensionados que hasta ahora suman un total de 28 mil nuevos pensionados a lo largo del país”

Transcurrido 15 días de dicho anuncio y en vista de no encontrar ningún medio nacional con el listado que ofreció el presidente de la república, optamos por volver a buscar en diferentes portales de internet asociados a la seguridad social, sin lograr respuesta alguna. Al volver a la página web del Amor Mayor: encontramos una nota de prensa indicando “La seguridad social seguirá expandiéndose para proteger a nuestros abuel@s. Aquí van 7.274 nuevos pensionados!”, escribió el Mandatario a través de su cuenta en la red social Twitter @NicolasMaduro, el vínculo para consultar el listado de beneficiarios: http://nuevospensionados.ivss.gob.ve/.

Como bien señala la nota, es un vínculo del Instituto Venezolano de los Seguros Sociales, donde colocamos nuestro número de cedula y la fecha de nacimiento, para constatar si salimos o no en el listado. No es el listado de los supuestos nuevos pensionados, por lo tanto no podemos hacer seguimiento a la promesa del presidente. Si nos remitimos a la nota de prensa, son 7.274 y no 8 mil, menos aun 28 mil los nuevos pensionados, honestos trabajadores que durante años dimos nuestra fuerza de trabajo por el desarrollo del país y cotizamos consecuentemente al IVSS, con la esperanza de tener garantizada una vejez digna. Lo que sí se puede ver son los comentarios de muchos de nosotros respondiendo a la nota de prensa mencionada, donde de una u otra manera solicitamos al gobierno nos responda por qué no se ha publicado dicho listado y por qué los que consultamos el vínculo anexo en el Twitter del presidente no aparecemos seleccionados, pese a haber cumplido con la cotizaciones y la edad reglamentaria para obtener el beneficio, producto del ahorro de millones de trabajadores y no de las limosnas del gobierno.

Con la certeza de que estos comentarios no serían leídos por Maduro ni por su corte de burócratas enquistados en el Instituto Venezolano de los Seguros Sociales; el 27/08/14 una considerable representación de trabajadores jubilados, organizados en el comité de Derechos de los Pensionados y Jubilados, realizamos una protesta en las afueras del IVSS, en el centro de Caracas, para reclamar que desde marzo de este año no se publican las listas de pensionados y exigir que se nos incluya en los listados a los trabajadores que ya hemos cumplido con los requisitos de ley. Por otra parte rechazamos la orden del presidente del IVSS, Carlos Rotondaro, de no otorgar pensiones a los trabajadores de las empresas privadas y del Estado morosas en el pago de las cotizaciones al organismo; nosotros los trabajadores cotizamos completo, no respondemos por las faltas de los patronos.

La banca y las aseguradoras privadas durante años han gozado de la administración de nuestros ahorros con el aval de los diferentes gobiernos, bajo la figura de productos financieros como los plazos fijos, los fidecomisos a las prestaciones sociales y antigüedades y los HCM etc. Han obtenido grandes ganancias, pero siempre han querido meterle mano a las jubilaciones de los trabajadores. Sin embargo, este jugoso privilegio ha sido hoy exclusivo del estado y el gobierno del socialismo del siglo XXI, que no ha perdido oportunidad de beneficiarse de nuestros ahorros y pensiones. Es más, mantiene una maravillosa relación con la banca privada otorgándoles muy buenas condiciones para su funcionamiento y beneficios, mientras por otro lado crea una red de bancos estadales que se encargan de invertir y administrar estos recursos. Con la figura de las misiones y el seguro social nos hacen creer que tenemos el control y la administración de nuestros dineros.

Para completar su disfraz de socialistas, Nicolás Maduro se llena la boca denunciando las administraciones de EE.UU y Europa como transgresores de los derechos de los trabajadores, generando ajustes económicos para que sean los trabajadores y los pueblos los que paguen la crisis. Si bien esto es verdad, en Venezuela bajo el socialismo del siglo XXI se violan nuestras conquistas de igual manera, con el incumplimiento en el pago de la pensión, las prestaciones sociales y los intereses de mora son ejemplo de ello. El gobierno del “presidente obrerista” no presenta la lista de pensionados y decide quién y cuándo debe cobrar la pensión, además no tenemos información, ni garantías de donde están nuestros ahorros ya que no se adjudican automáticamente a los jubilados luego que este cumple con los procedimientos de ley.

Es de destacar que estos atropellos se han venido desarrollando a lo largo de estos 16 años y son parte indiscutible “del legado del difunto Hugo Chávez Frías” y que su hijo Nicolás Maduro lleva adelante disciplinadamente con el apoyo de los burócratas sindicales de las federaciones y la CSBT, además del conjunto de partidos que conforman el polo patriótico.

Aun a nuestra circunstancia seguimos peleando. Es necesario que nosotros los trabajadores y el pueblo, seamos los garantes, inversores y administradores de este patrimonio obtenido a través de los años de trabajo y el sacrificio de nuestras familias. Nuestras pensiones no son un regalo de los patronos, ni son una dádiva del ejecutivo. Exigimos al gobierno que rinda cuentas de nuestros ahorros, que se publiquen los listados, para el ejercicio de la contraloría social y que se respeten y liquiden de forma automática todas las pensiones. No estamos dispuestos a pagar la irresponsabilidad de los patronos.

[Difundido originalmente por http://deslinde2011.blogspot.com/2014/08/sin-los-listados-de-pensionados-el.html.]

Guide to Cell Phones at Protests

From Sprout Distro:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), an organization working to protect civil liberties in the digital realm, recently put together a “Cell Phone Guide for US Protestors” that offers helpful tips for those who find themselves in protest situations. It makes a good addition to zines we distribute on the topic, including “London Calling” and “Anonymity/Security.”

Cell Phone Guide For US Protesters, Updated 2014 Edition

With major protests in the news again, we decided it’s time to update our cell phone guide for protestors. A lot has changed since we last published this report in 2011, for better and for worse. On the one hand, we’ve learned more about the massive volume of law enforcement requests for cell phone—ranging from location information to actual content—and widespread use of dedicated cell phone surveillance technologies. On the other hand, strong Supreme Court opinions have eliminated any ambiguity about the unconstitutionality of warrantless searches of phones incident to arrest, and a growing national consensus says location data, too, is private.

Protesters want to be able to communicate, to document the protests, and to share photos and video with the world. So they’ll be carrying phones, and they’ll face a complex set of considerations about the privacy of the data those phones hold. We hope this guide can help answer some questions about how to best protect that data, and what rights protesters have in the face of police demands.

Before The Protest

Think carefully about what’s on your phone. When we last visited this question, law enforcement in many states were arguing that they could search the contents of a phone incident to arrest without a warrant. Today, thanks to the unanimous Supreme Court decision in Riley v. California, that’s no longer the case. Still, if you can avoid carrying sensitive data, you don’t have to worry about it getting pulled off the phone. That can include photos, your address book, application data, and more. If you don’t need it for the protest, consider removing it for the duration.

If you have access to a temporary phone with only the essentials, that might be a better option. Modern smartphones record all sorts of data, and there may be overlooked sources of sensitive information.

Password protect your phone. Password protection can guard your phone from casual searches, but it can still be circumvented by law enforcement or other sophisticated adversaries.

Start using encrypted communications channels. Text messages, as a rule, can be read and stored by your phone company or by surveillance equipment in the area. If you and your friends can get comfortable with encrypted communications channels in advance, that can keep prying eyes off your texts while they’re in transit.

Direct messages through social media may be encrypted while in transit, but can be subject to subpoenas from law enforcement. You may wish to explore end-to-end encrypted options, like Whisper Systems’ TextSecure,1 Guardian Project’s mobile IM software ChatSecure, or the mobile version of Cryptocat, or Whisper Systems’ RedPhone ( for Android) or Signal (for iOS) for voice calls, which only store the contents of your communications in an encrypted, unreadable form.

End-to-end encryption does not protect your meta-data. In other words, using end-to-end encrypted communications will keep law enforcement from being able to read the contents of your messages, but they will still be able to see who you’re talking to and when you’re talking to them.

At The Protest

Keep control of your phone. You may wish to keep the phone on you at all times, or hand it over to a trusted friend if you are engaging in action that you think might lead to your arrest. In any case, you can set the lock screen to turn on quickly, so that if you do lose control of your phone, nobody else gets access easily.

Take pictures and video of the scene. As the ACLU says in a recent Know Your Rights guide, “Taking photographs of things that are plainly visible from public spaces is a constitutional right.” Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop law enforcement officers from occasionally demanding that protesters stop doing exactly that.

If you’re planning to document the protest, you should read the whole guide ahead of time. There are special considerations for videotaping, too, so make sure to brush up on that if you plan to be recording video.

Finally, you may wish to explore options that upload directly to another server. Livestreaming sites, and even social media services, can make sure photos and videos get online before law enforcement officers have a chance to delete them.

Help, I’m being arrested!

You have a right to remain silent—about your phone and anything else. If questioned by police, you can politely but firmly decline to answer and ask to speak to your attorney.

If the police ask to see your phone, tell them you do not consent to the search of your device. Again, since the Supreme Court’s decision in Riley, there is little question that officers need a warrant to access the contents of your phone incident to arrest, though they may be able to seize the phone and get a warrant later.

As we said in the last guide, if the police ask for the password to your electronic device you can politely refuse to provide it and ask to speak to your lawyer. Every arrest situation is different, and you will need an attorney to help you sort through your particular circumstance. Note that just because the police cannot compel you to give up your password, that doesn’t mean that they can’t pressure you. The police may detain you and you may go to jail rather than being immediately released if they think you’re refusing to be cooperative. You will need to decide whether to comply.

OK, now how do I get my phone back?

If your phone or electronic device was seized, and is not promptly returned when you are released, you can file a motion with the court to have your property returned. If the police believe that evidence of a crime is on your electronic device, including in your photos or videos, the police can keep it as evidence. They may also attempt to make you forfeit your electronic device, but you can challenge that in court.

Increasingly, we keep our most sensitive communications and personal information on our cell phones. We carry in our pockets these devices that can tremendously enhance our ability to exercise our First Amendment rights, but which also carry serious privacy risks. We hope that with these tips in mind, you can take the necessary precautions with your digital technology.

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