tv Government Surveillance and Race Part 2 CSPAN May 6, 2016 8:58am-11:20am EDT
but the modern instruments because they're essentially indicators of poverty and so we can expect these instruments to have a racially impact. in my view many of the variables that go into the scores are simply inappropriate and possibly illegal factors on which to base the treatment of criminal defendant. and i'm not saying that those things are not correlated or predictive of recidivism. crime is obviously correlated with poverty in our society, although we should remember that the extent of that correlation may be exaggerated by what the fact the recidivism -- they measure getting caught, right. so what you're really saying is that people who have these rarkt
r -- character ristics may refle, simply, policing differences. so -- but even if we assume that all those characteristics actually predict crime rates, that doesn't mean that we should use them to decide how much to punish a person. when we tell a judge, sentence this person based on risk score and then we treat indicators of poverty or demographics, et cetera, as risk factors in that score, we are explicitly basically telling judges we want to literally punish people for their poverty, that is their score is determined not by what they did in the case but by who they are and their families are and how much money they have. so i have set forth a constitutional argument against the use of some of these variables, it's an article, i
don't have time to go through the details. i will say it's not especially boundary pushing, it's quite strong pushing that says, well, it comes from a case in which the state tried to revoke the probation of a probationer who lost his job, and the state tried to defend this in part by saying, look, there are all these studies that show people that people have lost their jobs and poor people are more dangerous. and the court said, look, you can't lump all poor people together and say that just because this person shares a characteristic with people who committed an elevated level of crime in the past, that this person is more dangerous, that is nothing more than punishing a person for his poverty, that's exactly how the supreme court described it. that is exactly what today's risk assessment instruments do and i think they run against that doctrine as well as what should be our moral intuitions. it's somewhat surprising that
these risk assessment instruments have been embraced by what, otherwise, progressive advocates of criminal justice reform. it's long a prong in many of the pending risk criminal justice reform pieces of legislation and why is that, i think in part, people hope that it will help to reduce incarceration by allowing judges to identify low risk people who don't need to be incarcerated. my view is that, you know, that reducing incarceration is an important objective, of course, but that adopting it through measures that prevent the very people that have been the most disproportion natalie incarcerated, people who face all those from taking advantage of it is not the way to go about it. all right. i have much more to say, but i'm getting a big stop sign, so, i'll stop. [ applause ]
>> andrew is going to talk about predictive policing. >> in my own name, i would like to make one major point, when it comes to predictive policing, the color of surveillance is not white. it's not black and it's not brown, it's dark. it's hidden, it's secret. and it's hard to figure out. predictive policing the idea that packs -- crime data can allow predictive hot places, hot spots or hot people, persons, to alga rhythmic number crunching. race is usually removed from all of the algorithms. it has impacts on racial impacts. the police data comes from police and all of the implicit and explicit biases in our policing in america today show up in that data. in this way predictably may not
be any worse than traditional policing and the real question is whether it could be better. i want to sketch out the reality and give you some terms and we will discuss it in the question and answer. to give you the since of scale, it's currently being used in major cities like new york, miami, santa cruz, chicago, kansas city and whole host of smaller cities. three main types, you've got your predictive policing, ideas that you can predict, where car thefts might be, where thefts from autos might be. you have your violence, placed base violent crimes, gang shooting, bars an clubs and you have your person base predictions we can identify the people involved in criminal activity and target them through public health models or surveillance. i want to sketch out how -- what these look like and then we'll talk in question and answer what to do about them. predictive policing, crime data, patch crime data, three types of
idea, type of crime, location of time and are fed into computer algorit algorithm using these areas are 500 by 500 square foot areas, maybe a city block and police are handed maps with these red boxes and they go patrol them. the logic is not algorithmic magic, it's that some crime is contagious. people burglarize some house. some car theft rings take place in various parking lots, it's some environmentally vulnerable blt. they're the specific programs that add in the time of the day, the weather, to be able to forecast elevated risk in particular neighborhood and particular time.
the result isn't particular of crime sz much where people can control. secondarily there's subject based predictive policing. chicago's police department has heat list, top 400 people who they think are more likely to be the victim of violent crime or perpetrator of violent crime. those 400 people on the so-called heat list get a knock on the door. yes, we know you're involved, go left, go to jail. and idea of targeting these people is now part of chicago's policing. in the minute i have left, i want to address how constitutional rights might be effected by these types of predictive policing. it protects all of us from unlawful, unreasonable searches and stop, frisks and searches, so the question is if you are in that box at 500 by 500 square foot box and police officer has been told to be on the look out
for suspicious behavior and seize you, have your right change. if you're on the heat list and you have been designated one of the top 400 people most likely to be involved in violent crime, should your fourth amendment protections changed. the answers are hard. it's not easy, but it goes back to the difficulty of trying to post it, why suppose so valuable, it's shedding light on the darkness of predictive policing and thank you all for being here and my time is up. oush bay area black lives matter chapter and do direct action
training through a couple of different groups across the country. i'm going to talk about three things when it comes to predictive policing, a little bit around the data that was talked a little bit earlier, the money the money and lack of accountability and what's happening on the ground, right, so the first one is the assumption that the data is mutual, which we know is not the case, right, we know we have historical studies that have proven over and over again that various communities might predict and if that's the case and that's the data that's going into these maps and going into the studies and it's only going to continue to produce an accurate information that relies on racist human assumptions the other one is that there's an influx of money it was discussed
earlier on one of the panels, around the sting ray one, in particular, the amount the amount of money that's coming in from the seizure of assets from police departments and also from the federal government over the last 13 years, it's been about $23 million that's come in through the department of justice, to grant to local police departments, four different technological policing solutions and a lot of that has gone into predictive softwares that are unproven. at this point there are several departments that are saying actually don't work and because the money comes in through these grants, they're not, then, given the same kind of accountability for the inflated police department budgets that we're seeing, so we have community members that are fighting for community policing or other kind of policing structures and their cities, but millions and millions are being funneled for technologies that don't have the same level of accountability.
and then the last one, really is around like what's happening on the ground, so we have all of these algorithms that are used to really predict crime and fight crime, what that means and what's not discussed is that it's a continuation of the materialization of our police departments, so come from lapd spying spoke earlier around the use of drones and the militarization but these predictive policing practices and technologies were created for the military. they were created to be able to find hot spots and iraq and afghanistan and are now being used this our departments and police departments across the country because it can take public dollars into corporate -- into corporate -- into large corporations without the level of accountability and transparency that is required, generally for police departments. the other thing that i would say is that there are a lot of
different groups that are kind of starting to work on this, right, so you have like baker center based out of oakland that is working to produce technology that really, then, is around holding police accountable. we had the technology earlier that brandon spoke around s.w.a.t. that's around police accountability and police transparency, there are ways in which community are responding using technological mechanisms to be able to hold police accountable, but don't necessarily know as much around these -- the ways in which predictive policing and predictive sentencing and the big data is being used against us. so i would say, the last thing that i've seen in just in conversations that i've had with activists and organizers aacross the country in a lot of different communities is really, we've got to have a sense of it, like, we know that there's money in it, we know that because of the work of organizers across the country, police are --
there's been a massive spotlight on policing in this country. we know that and because of that, the answer has been how can we use technology to be able to solve that and how can we take the human nature out of it and, instead, using technology to really reproduce historical -- historical harms and using the technology to really reproduce structural racism. >> thank you. >> and we'll conclude with christy who will tell us a little bit about how the government means in order to hand this will. >> good afternoon, i want to thank georgetown school of law for inviting me here to this important event, i think it's most critical at this juncture within the united states.
crime fighting technology, intel lens led policing and more to inform critical prevention and crime prevention tactics. although this term of art, the types of detective work to solve crimes is not. while there are enhanced technical capabilities, there's a distinct need to ensure that civil liberties predictions are adequately protected, i want to address and sum up some of the points that some of the prior speakers have made with respect to some of the funding and i'll do that in just a minute. the term, predictive policing are data analytics raises fears, understandably so, that the police might engage in illegal practices that they may over step their bound and potentially use that information in an intelligence way that bridges fourth amendment as well as the first amendment in other privacy laws. simply put, the term conjures up images of minority support society where people are able to rest individual before a crime
is committed. making predictions is one half of prediction led policing and the other part is acting on those predictions. it's important to understand and under score the relationship between federal law enforcement. the majority of crimes are enforced at the state and local level. within the schematic, it is important for the federal government to provide strong policy considerations that protect communities of color and to ensure that they are not negatively impacted or targeted on the bases of race. there is the need for clearly defined mission in order to understand what information should be collected is clear. in december of 2014, then attorney general holder updated the department of justice's use of race policy. this policy bail builds upon and expands the framework of 2003 guidance and reaffirms the government's deep commitment to ensure the law enforcement agencies conduct activity in unbias manner. bias practices as the federal
government long recognized including what mr. jim baker talked about, perpetuate and vitally important, biases practices are ineffective from law enforcement perspective. as former attorney general eric holder is stated, such practices are simply not good law enforcement. as privacy professionals and attorneys, we seek to distinguish information which determines what is and what is not protected under federal policy laws. in this day, privacy officials need to be engaged about what information can and to be shared with other agencies. the department of justice, these responsibilities are within various office within the department and we take a multi layered approach protecting privacy, civil liberties and civil rights. as mentioned, in 2014, the white house released a report titled big data seizing opportunities, preserving values and this was the result of president obama's
90-day big day report. this report caught on the department of justice to examine and focus the domestic use of policing and specifically to focus on the more complex predictive technologies. for example, not merely mapping crimes have occurred in searching databases for specific information, as we know, the data is only as valuable and as good as it is collected, so if you're relying on older data and not raw data that is action nabl, you're not going to get the results that law enforcement needs to work in their law enforcement mission. so one of the things that was important within this report and within this tasks was that the department established guidelines for the use of state and local law enforcement because as we know, a lot of this is targeted at the level. although the federal government, because federal and other issues can't specifically tell state and local law enforcement how to conduct the business, we can't
establish policies and standard of conduct that can be used as a milestone or model for future policing activities, thank you. [ applause ] >> thank you, everyone. i'd like to start off by just asking a very blunt question, and that is, predictive policing and sentencing racial profiling by another name. and i'd like to direct that question to janel first. >> yeah, hello. so just the short answer of that, i would say yes. if we are studying the ways -- there's two parts, right, so the first one is the fact that it does rely on old data that is not neutral, right, like that is really the crux of it. the other one is that very similar to what sonja said we have these algorithms that are
proprietary and what are some of the risks in using that data to make sure they're despaired impacts with respect to different communities being targeted or not targeted. >> regarding sentencing policing. >> i think in terms of transparen transparency, the key issue that we need to focus on and what happens with discussions like this, is that we can begin demanding that. there isn't transparency right now. there are certain proprietary predictive policing technologies that don't share the information. and there are some that are recognizing that they need to and they will. but the government the police control the are not giving it up and i think because of that, it's easy to label things as racial profiling, where it's actually more complex. we're talking about ergonomic factors and removing race.
but without the transparency we are left with those labels and i think it's incumbent on sof we can see what is and understand to be able look at the consequences. we don't have all of that and we need it. >> it can be sentenced and i can have on the bases of algorithms that they don't have access to. and telling people what the bases is part of do/think it's
racial profiling. it's not literally in the sense that race is not included it is certainly profiling and profiling on a bunch of factors that are inappropriate to use. when we talk about these predictive technologies, what tends to happen, especially when it's sort of in the potentially progressive policy reform, rerefer to these as evidence based sentencing, that's almost you -- youth nichl. let's check your mic. i think it may be muted. if you tap it there.
the evidence all comes from with past offenders have done. i think we use to language to make us. one of the attractions of these things they take a process, that inherently discretionary and subjective and people are uncomfortable of that subjectiveness. and they make it scientific. the evidence of science shouldn't blind us to the fact that we are, in fact, calculating these scores based on inputs if you did it in qualitative terms if you had a judge coming into the courtroom and saying i was going to give you probation but your parents went to prison and you only make minimum wage and they're sending
to you jail instead there would be gaps in the courtroom. when we do that under the guides of regression i think it will help for us to refer to profiling rather than these sort of technical terms. [ applause ] >> can big data alone ever justify a stop. >> i think that what has happened is well d fourth amendment standard, a factor with particular it's totality of
circumstance standard which means you can take into account anything you want. you can imagine being that officer on the street even told to go to this block and be on the look out for burglary, you go there, there's a person who is holding a bag, normally holding a bag is not a crime and no reason to stop someone, algorithm told you to be on the look out for burglary, burglars have bags, can you stop them? that's the question. i think the answer to that is, no. i hope the answer to that is, no. but the courts are going to have to wrestle with that, about how do you take -- how do you conceptional liez this algorithmic tip. it's based on some data. it lacks understanding. it will be a difficult question for the court to pull apart is
this enough, and again, my hope is when that judge reviews it will say no, they will have to red my article. >> one more question and we'll open it up. >> can big data be used for intervention, meaning, can we feel differently about if it's used not by law enforcement but by mental health professionals who are responding to public health issues as opposed to criminal justice. >> go ahead. you can start. >> sure. >> i think that it's still tricky, to be honest. i think it comes down to, again, where is the data coming from, how is it being calculated. and i think that one of the things to remember is that there's a lot of information we already know, like we already know where poverty is in cities,
we already know where there are bad schools. we already know where -- which communities need help and need services. we don't need big data and new al al algorithms to be able to figure that out. so for me -- >> i can't speak to the benefit part of it. i do know one of the hopes was to really challenge the federal government to come up with sort of really concrete benefits for the use of big data. i mean, as you noted, there are certainly some benefits whether it's in health context or social work in terms of understanding someone's medical history, someone's, you know, educational those sorts of things. i do think that a lot of times the discussion is casts in a
negative and i think society will benefit from thinking about some of the potentially uses of using data for society's benefit over all. >> in the correction system, sometimes very similar algorithms are used for something called needs assessment, so it's basically more benign purpose in which, you know, essentially the profile of a person is used to match them to services that they might need, right. and now, you know, like my problem with that is -- like the insights that the data tell us in those cases are things that if it's true, for instance, that unemployment is a substantial predick tor of recidivism.
we can take that insight which are there are decades of research and say, yeah, like provide training to people in prison or provide job placement services on reentry. those are things that you don't actually need to do to assign scores for people to -- for people to do. likewise, you know, substance abuse treatment. it's probably the people who have had addiction problems, you know, this is not rocket science, but, you know, there's obviously, i'm not saying that there's no potentially beneficial use of gathering data of people that can help, for instance, through the reentry process. there's -- there's hostile to the use of data, i'm like, you know, impeer -- impeer cli
research. i'm not entirely sure that scoring people is really to way to go about it. >> i think the public health approach to violence is not something that i think we've been shown to reduce violence. i don't think it has to be connected with policing. i think that the risk identification of people most likely to be shot or to be -- to shoot someone can intervention can happen on a community level without police and i think that that's the difference. it's doesn't have to go through the police, although that is, perhaps, where the funding is and why it happens. but you could not have the detective social worker and the football coach knock on the door, you can have the social worker knock on the door and trying to reach the same place of identifying the young men, primarily men of color who are most arrests are getting shot and in chicago, there are a lot of young men of color being
shot, if the identification process has to be the same as the remedy. >> we'll open it up to the audien audience. >> yeah my question is, what are the ethical concerns of allowing the state to essentially experiment on individuals including people getting locked up, right, what are the. >> so i will say that it's really great. >> and when we think about the history and especially as it relates to black people and people of color, the use of science and data has been used for hundreds of years to justify atrocities and it has been used
to justify -- people out of it and being able to make it more neutral by the use of data and big data and algorithms in proprietary it continues this issue of science and white su prem -- supremacy. >> i think there are certainly ethical questions. but police have been collecting data on individuals forever. you can place it back to the 18th century and see that. so there are ethical questions, there are real concerns at conferences like this should bring out and i hope that the police and the. you can hear but -- it causes
concern in communities and probably for a good reason. >> i think the question, when you phrase it as. >> one of the implications of experimenting on people who are at -- who have no choice but to participate, that sounds bad, right it depends on what you're talking about. when comes to say, police trying some method and the question is just randomizing to see how it works, it's like pretty good way of likewise if you're going to assign people to joint treatment, you're not sure what joint treatment program works better, randomization is also a
>> any particularized suspension on an individual. i think one of the things -- in various parts of the department there's the office of justice programs and vja and cops and those sorts of entities that give out grants. they are very interested in training and working in the same way that they do to deploy these technologies, working, especially in the aftermath of ferguson with police departments
to specifically understand and identify that some of these officers, whether or not they do it intentional lornt, may have preconceived notions about particular groups of people, especially, those communities of color. i think training is one way to address that issue, you know, certainly any sort of system that is based primarily on race would be unlawful under the constitution. >> so, i'm data scientist, forgive me if i get a little technical here. when you talk about big data technologies, i think increasing what you're seeing is not not that meft but more big data type things, random forest, or networks of deep learning.
>> what does it mean to make something available of public when the professionals have a hard time interpreting what exactly is happening and where it's worth is coming from. and also is that of enough reason not to do it. >> i think that that does make it even harder. the existing methods that are being used in, at least, the posts arrests criminal justice process are -- do tend to be -- they're a little more technicality. they're not really big data. they're databased on, often, relatively studies of a few thousand prior vendors using kind of very traditional regression methods which get translated that show the effect that each prior variable had to get translated into a risk scorer, often like rounded to the nearest whole number that
can easily calculate and just a sign up, a point, or something, to each risk factor, two points or smgomething like that. that said, there is a bunch of work, now, on how to get more -- better prediction using machine learning techniques and, for instance, the pennsylvania has been working on random forest based approach. i think that, at least, you could -- it may be harder to achie achieve transparency on that. at least you could make it -- make available what -- like what the factors are that are included. i don't know. i mean, i have to think more about it. to me, because i'm particularly concerned with the substance of, like, whether the variables that are being included are appropriate. to me it doesn't really matter
whether you feed inappropriate variables into regression based system or whether you feed them into a machine or any based system, any way, it's, you know, sort of like garbage in and garbage out, unconstitutional variables and unconstitutional risks score out come. >> we have time for one more question and we've got to wrap up. wrap up. okay. thank you all. >> you know, when we think about the struggle for racial justice and how advancements come, sometimes they come through the law, through traditional methods like bringing court cases, lobbying and sometimes they come from taking it to the streets
when you want to know how to take it to the streets. you ask eugene, he's doing to give us a tutorial. let's say that chief lanier here is thinking about using some kind of predictive instrument and let's say that we don't like that, how can we make our chief abandon that. how can we make our mayor. and black lives lives matters activists arthur. he's had a number of successes in activism in disrupting city hall. now he's going to tell us how to do it. >> i'll try to talk loud, is it
on. first and foremost, thank you to professor butler. and grateful to it's a great opening example looking to work on predictive policing and back in here in d.c. ecosystem. what is our operative, i think this is something that is folks in this movement certainly would agree to some degree is that, you know, why is it called business as usual, we live in society that's based off of profit. we need a certain amount of stability to work, that's why it's business as usual, right. our operative principal, if we want to force change, we have to push disruption that disrupts business as usual. why is that. you know, the traditional political process which has its own, you know, realities to it and i think it has its own uses to it and we've used it here in
washington, d.c. it's like a scalpel based approach. so how do we just tweak them just a little bit, how do we use that scalpel to get in there and cut it out and take it out and it's going to be all good. one thing about quote/unquote black lives matter and i think it's important for people to recognize why people in the movement have switched to the movement of black lives, so much of what is happening has taken us not beyond policing or mass incarcerations but the connection between policing and mass incarceration, disparity, housing, so on and so forth, that the lived experience, the totality of the lived experience of most people, these things aren't actually separate at all. but they're coexisting with each other and they don't seem separate because of the way they interact to create our reality. we don't need a scalpel in some ways, we point to issues that
are not just about, you know, how do we use the law, but is the law itself and i don't just mean the code, but the constitution itself even adequate to deal with when we live in a society, for instance, just to, you know, keep the whole idea for black lives where you have civil rights guaranteed but not social and economic rights is that adequately. these are the sort of questions we're asking. i think the only way we can get answers to those questions or other big entrenched societal issues, when i look at the people behind me, i think about the same thing. we have to act as more of blunt instrument that can disrupt business as usual to get big conversations going because they don't actually take place the way they are. and disruption is one of the keys that we need. it happened a lot of different ways. you have what a lot of people, i'm sure, thinking about was it yesterday that bill clinton got into it with the black lives matter, folks, this is something that he never thought he would ever have to account for post
presidency the policy he's putting forth and now he's challenging, people are revisiting it and talking about it and does it make hillary clinton, suitable, unsuitable. that's one, i think in some ways it's the more acceptable one it's the easy one to talk about. we disrupted the mayor last summer, so on and so forth. >> with people rising up and baltimore that really ultimately led to inclusion a lot of other issues of socioeconomic realities. from our perspective, the difference between the two, right, is that one is essentially a spontaneous movement of people, the latter one that has its own reality that it creates around it. there's no -- the first one, though, is something that's a planned disruption that has a political program attached to it
and that's what we try to do. we disrupted the mayor, we didn't say we're doing to disrupt the mayor, we don't like her cry bill, we're mad we're going to yell and scream even though that's how it's presented. we have ability, we couldn't get the mayor to talk to us. we have no ability to get ourselves into the conversation until we're able to disrupt it. when we're disruptive. we move to all these different elements, the law for black lives collective legal analysis, we went and knocked on doors we had flyers, informs, web sites -- information we had web sites. we talked to as many as we could find so the course of disruptions to find conversations so we can get on the back end of our information and effect the out come of political policy. i should say that the mayor's crime bill has completely died. now, another crime bill has passed it's all about the public health approach to criminal justice, which was mentioned previously. and i'll say, finally, before, you know, i wrap up here and take a couple of questions is,
that in and of itself is the beginning for us. we try to take a blunt instrument kind of approach. we try to get in and find ways to be aggressive, we're not here to see something and say something. it's police terrorism and regular terrorism. we're asking people to report to us, what happens to us in videos if they have it. we have to push that against the narrative and recreate a community of people if you agree to help the next person that comes along. so that way we start to create a community and feedback loop where people aren't as dependent on the government to hold the police accountable, they're holding them accountable themselves creating their own as opposed to letting them drive all the kaycases. >> we're starting to redefine what it means to have jails, criminal justice. it's not -- it's not really a civil rights movement, it's a popular democratic movement that
is acting in a way to raise questions, i think, are very serious about in the 21st century where this country is going to go. that's our approach, to have some level of disruption, to use as blunt instrument practices that allow us to come behind and engage in that conversation once it's already started to give it some direction and hopefully be able to organize people and organize themselves to succeed. thank you so much everyone for coming. i just want to open it up for folks to just throw, you know, whatever you got. [ applause ] >> eugene, thanks so much for breaking it down. i have a couple questions that reduce around a single theme. you're here at georgetown law school. you are speaking to people who are studying these questions from an academic perspective. what structural recommendations would you have to examine and
better connect the policy arguments of elites to the lived out consequences of people on the ground more systematically beyond today? >> i think that's a very good question. one way is that we have to -- maybe the question is, how much can the institution do this. what's interesting about the law for black lives collective is it's within the institution, but it's still without the institution. on their own initiative, they're reaching out. how is it that faculty members, organization of students, give them the resources they need. help them make the connections, bring people in to start to create those organic connections between people. i think that's the only way it can really happen and how can the institution forward that. i think there are ways, on the same token, sometimes the institution is going to be resistant and i think that's okay. the importance of understanding
that that's okay and it can't all come from this and the connections are going to be more ground level is also important for us. >> hi, how are you? >> fine, thank you. >> what you say about the movement for black lives and how you're dealing with the totality of issues that are very deep, complex, historic. my question for you is, we're sitting here talking about surveillance of communities of color. many of us are thinking how can we actually make a difference in this area. in light of the totality of issues, is working like on issue like surveillance helpful or is it small and trivial? i can see it potentially being one or the other and i don't know what the perception of that is and the big issues being dealt with. >> i would say it's extremely helpful. from the point of view of activist in general. one big thing you run into -- i
live in ward eight in d.c. southeast. all the time, people stop me on the street, man, i love what you're doing, just don't get killed, just don't let them kill you. it does sound a little funny. the fear of it is very palpable because they remember what happened to dr. king and malcolm x and the black panthers and what's going on there. when you can understand, even when it's challenging to you, it's easier to deal with it is key. and two, pushing back on these practices which are clearly inappropriate. the government has surveilled the occupied movement. the atf, they surveilled the occupied movement. these people are completely non-violent. we actually have to surveil them even more because we have to prove that they're violent. we have this whole range of political surveillance that's happening right now and i think the work to try to push back on that, understand that, put
spotlight on that, is key for us to do our work, but to help people understand what they're going up against and make an informed decision about their own ability to get involved. one more? yes, sir. >> so for those of us working on surveillance at sort of a congressional level, i guess my question for you is like, where are we failing to explain the nuances of this in a way that connects, you know, sort of the 12333, 702 nsa stuff to the actual impact that it has on activists and how can we connect sort of those two spaces in a way that allows the activist to
do their work more effectively and safely? >> i don't know if you are failing. most activists, real everyday down and dirty organizers actually know about that. they try to learn about what's going on in the patriot act. it's trade craft from the point of view of what we do. i think that there are connections that can be made and more information that needs to be put out there about what types of political surveillance are going on. i think we've scratched the surface. from where i'm from, they always talked about the patriot act against drug dealers. is that happening? did that ever happen? what are they doing? so that information is out there more, but a lot of it is succeeds in getting out there. like every black lives matter activist on the planet now is using signal. because the acknowledge of encryption has gone way up, giving people training about all these different things. i think there's a high level now of consciousness so i would say keep doing the work you're doing because it's getting to us.
>> wow. how about a round of applause? [ applause ] >> thank you all. >> so when activism movement for black lives are using encryption, are they being paranoid? that's a question that we're going to take up now. we've heard a lot about the history. now let's talk about current events. let's talk about whether and what the fbi, the department of homeland security, and your local police department is doing to activists like eugene. to start us in that conversation, and it is a start because we've been talking a lot about data. later in the afternoon, we're going to have real data from people who've done freedom of information requests about black lives matter activists. they will reveal some of their findings here. but now, a history lesson. a history lesson that starts
with september 11th and our professor will be a real life professor sahar aziz. he's an associate professor at texas a&m that teaches in the area of national security and tort. before she joined the academy she worked, among other places, at the department of homeland security. so she'll have lots to teach us. sahar. [ applause ] >> there we go. all right. thank you so much for inviting me today. it's great to be back in georgetown. i was actually an adjunct here. it's great to see so many other colleagues. and i'm really impressed with the turnout today, not only in
terms of number of people, but diversity in background. i'm glad we have advocates keeping us in check. what i want to talk about today, much of it is in an article, so i can't go into the details which is why i cited it. i want to talk about the way in which the relationship between the war on drugs affected the war on terror and the war on terror is now boomeranging back into what i think is still a war on drugs and drugs implicitly is a war on blacks and terror implicitly is a war on muslims. i realize that's a very provocative statement. but if you look at the way these so-called domestic wars are being enforced, the data is clear if you look at the names of the defendants and their identities. so after -- in britain, after
they had experienced terrorist attacks, this is a quote that the americans then adopted and said, let's see if we can copy the brits. they essentially said, why don't you use the communities to defeat terrorism which then brings up ideas about community policing which was used often in the war on crime, war on drugs. so just to give you a very brief history and we had a previous speaker who talked about this, the african-american community in my opinion, and if you look at derek bell's work and the black/white paradigm and critical race theory, there's a lot of truth to it. it's the baseline for understanding race relations in america, discrimination in america. anyone who's working with civil rights needs to understand the history of discrimination against african-americans to see how discrimination against other communities are an offspring of. not necessarily identical, but
certainly connected. we don't live in a vacuum. in the '60s and '70s, this was part of the surveillance against martin luther king and malcolm x and left wing political groups. so what we're seeing here is very connected. it's the same law enforcement agencies, it's the same laws, although they've been expanded after 9/11. i'll talk about that in a minute. but they are effectively the same infrastructure just targeting different communities. and just because they add a new community, does not mean as we see today, that african-american communities suddenly are immune from the same historical problems. we've also seen it expand to left wing political groups particularly with regard to surveillance. surveillance is the hook that leads to the prosecutions and
leads to the incarceration and the chilling effect in terms of quashing political descent and engagement in activism. i put a question mark there because if you ask any police officer they've done studies and show that police officers at the local level have said that if you're -- if you want to know where the biggest threat to quote home grown terrorism is, domestic terrorism, more from right wing political groups, domestic militant groups, so people who are -- some of them are completely protected by what they do by the first amendment and some of them cross the line into violence. but ironically, that's not where the law enforcement resources are being targeted. in 2009, there was a report that essentially argued that home grown right wing extremism is a problem and it's something that law enforcement needs to focus on. if you go and look online, the response and the backlash was
quite notable and dhs had to withdraw that report. and a lot of that is because of the politics of counterterrorism. what i look at specifically is countering violent extremism. i don't know how many of you know what that is. it's become a big term of art in d.c. when i wrote this paper, that wasn't the case. it means that the industrial complex has officially taken off and there are now financial interests in the ngo sector, in the government and in the private sector. so it's something that you should be familiar with. although it facially appears to affect only muslim communities, it's connected to what's been happening in african-american communities and will continue to expand to african-americans and other minority communities. so you have a policing infrastructure -- i thought -- i was very glad to see the fbi general council here because i took note of the fact that the laws have changed to some extent.
one could argue for the better, some could argue for the worst. but just because the laws have changed to create more quote, unquote oversight, sometimes when you're doing is legalizing surveillance. they may have overstepped the law in the '60s and '70s. but be careful sometimes the response is to just legalize what they're doing. it's no longer extrajudicial or extra legal but it is the same action. it is the same violations of one's privacy rights if you have high expectations. okay. so after 9/11 -- [ inaudible ] -- information sharing. 9/11 happened because there was no information sharing between all of the different federal agencies. now you have the complete opposite. and it's all very opaque and it's all very secretive. here are all the different agencies.
fbi, dhs, daa, dod, you have the police departments involved, particularly the large police departments. they are now engaged in counterterrorism at the local level. at this point in time, through litigation, through freedom of information acts, we're pretty confident they're focusing on muslim american communities. but again, it starts with one particular group and then it expands. you also have an infrastructure with fusion centers these are state entities where the police departments produce suspicious activity reports. they're not necessarily related to criminal activity, but they're just a form of spying and putting these suspicious reports. they ask businesses to do the same thing. so it's all a form of collection that's tied to national security. and many of the businesses are afraid to push back because they don't want to have any trouble with the government. the politics of counterterrorism is very fear-based.
so businesses that get subpoenaed, politicians and even members of the public, they're told, if you push back, if you defend civil liberties and there's a terrorist attack, blood is on your hands. so everybody becomes very risk averse. it's a fear driven rhetoric. joint terrorism task force is where you have police working with all these federal agencies to effectively counter terrorism. it sounds very reasonable. the problem again is it's very opaque. so there's very little oversight, it's very difficult to monitor, even those who issue requests transparency. they usually have to litigate for two years which requires a significant amount of resources. and you have local police engaging in counterterrorism that is highly racialized and stigmatized in communities which then creates distrust between communities and local police. so there are a lot of conflicts
of interest and tensions in the role of the police. and the metadata collection, you probably have heard of it going on in the news. this happened for drug cartels or assumed drug dealers. this is actually not as post-9/11 as we thought it was. these are some of the things that our police and our federal agents are doing. many of them are things that have been happening, continue to happen to the african-american community. the use of informants, undercover agents, sting operations. racial mapping has become institutionalized. the fbi will say this is not racial profiling, we're just trying to understand the community. we just want to know the beat that we police. the problem is, when you look on the other end of that black box and you see the prosecutions and see that the identities are
consistently of a particular racial and religious group, it's hard to take that statement as a good faith statement. then we've also seen through litigation -- there is litigation and the nypd just settled a case of mass surveillance of muslim communities where they sent in informants and undercover agents into mosques. many of them had been infiltrated and all that is going into intelligence databases. that can create -- aside from the privacy issues and the chilling effect, that is a way for them to start charging people and leads to adverse harms on people's rights. once you're on their radar, it's very hard to get out. and you don't find out until it's too late. this is just an idea. the informant problem is a very big one. this is not unique to the post-9/11 counterterrorism context by any means.
but this is just to show you how 9/11 has effectively put what was the war on crime paradigm, put it on steroids, effectively, and gave it new breath, new money, and new energy. so you have in 2011 over 15,000 official informants. and all of these individuals, if they're particularly the ones that are paid, have to get paid. the way they get paid is they find a plot. we've had cases -- it was in the media if you look up greg montel in california. he converted. he was an fbi informant. he officially converted at the mosque. he essentially went around trying to create a terrorist plot with the people in the mosque. the mosque reported him to the fbi. and said, this guy is crazy, there's something wrong with him, i think he's a terrorist. and the fbi disregarded it and
kept working with him and said, have you found anybody, maybe you can have a relationship with a woman and find out if she can tell you something about people. i mean, it was all kinds of very illicit activities. ultimately, he ended up turning on them and he told -- he sued the fbi, but he also told the public exactly what he had been up to and how he had been paid over six digits and he wasn't the only one. so it's a very dirty game. the fbi will say that was an exception, but how many years can you keep saying that. and then of course we have the patriot act. i'm not going to go into a lot of detail. this is literally it's own law class. it's three or four weeks of counterterrorism. but the patriot act changed and expanded the authorities particularly of the fbi significantly primarily by lowering the standards in which they can get these types of warrants.
so instead of -- so you have things such as relevance or indicative of or some purpose rather than significant purpose. and for lawyers, that does mean a lot because it's a higher burden to have to meet if you're trying to get a warrant. you also have -- so just if you don't know, this is the business records if you go to the business to get your warrant. you go and get a warrant, but you don't have to tell the person that you're searching their home or car. you go, search it, come back, and later you tell them. which is an anomaly under the normal process. the wiretap, it's essentially not connected to a particular phone or device, but it roves allegedly with the person. you can see how that can become very broad if it's abused. then you have the national security letters which effectively are subpoenas, administrative subpoenas that existed before 9/11, but the patriot act expanded them so all
they have to be is relevant to a terror investigation. they're usually issued to banks and businesses and third parties. and the easiest way to persuade them that it is relevant to a terrorism investigation is to include the name of a muslim-sounding person on the subpoena. and they'll usually say, oh, yeah, we'll cooperate with whatever you want. or south asian or arab sounding name. so there's a lot of racialization in the process. and then of course you have the fisa court. i appreciated the comments about the fisa court being a check. it is far from perfect check. it is a secret court which is a complete exception in the american legal system. and so you have judges who are -- they get an application from the fbi or the department
of justice and there are internal checks within the department of justice before it gets to the fisa court, but there's no adversary. there's no one on the other side to say on this warrant, i want to challenge it, i want to -- so it's not an adversarial process. it's a secret court. you have the executive and the judiciary. some would argue it's too differential. again, you don't want the blood on your hands, judge. i'm not sure i'm convinced that the fisa court is a good check if that's what you look to as solving the problems of the 1960s and 1970s. you also have threat assessments which effectively allow the fbi to follow you physically, to interview people and lie about who they are, the police can lie. it's legal for them to lie. and without any relevant -- no reasonable suspicion.
it can be essentially a non-criminal basis. so they're very, very problematic in the way that they can start focusing in on you. as you may know from the news, there are tracking devices although we had jones that limited that a little bit. and then of course we all know about the militarization of the police. these are the ways in which the legal tools have expanded their powers. some will say what about the guidance on the use of race. now, this is just guidance. in 2003, which was under bush, there was a very explicit exemption for national security. in other words, if it was related to national security, the fbi and law enforcement could use race as a factor. not from an individualized perspective where you have this particular suspect. that's legal. but in general. now, holder changed that and said we will apply these guidelines to national security and intelligence, he also expanded it to also include
religion, gender identity, sexual orientation. but again, when you -- if the hypothetical is isis or daesh is trying to recruit muslims, that gives us a basis that we now need to keep an eye on the muslims and surveil them. we know they're usually between the ages of 15 and 25 and we know they're muslim and they're from a middle eastern country originally. that doesn't give those communities a lot of assurances that they will not effectively be spied on based on their identity as opposed to individualized action or suspicious activity. okay. so all that is to say others who push back -- what i explained to you is what is called counterterrorism. it's the adversarial, prosecutorial, criminal law enforcement approach.
it's not rehabilitative. it's punitiveand retributive. there's a movement that's arguing, maybe we need more soft counterterrorism. that's where you get the language of community policing which was the same used in the war on drugs and war on crimes context. i think it's essentially a euphemism. it's a difference without a distinction. this is kind of from the d.o.j.'s policing, if you already have a community policing program, just expand it. we already have the infrastructure. there's a whole literature about community policing. a debate on whether it works. but this is the more traditional model. this is what i call traditional community policing, war on drugs, war on crime context, is it's often the communities
working with the police to protect the communities against a third-party criminal. so it may be a gang. it may be drug dealers. it may be people who are in the community selling violence. they're working with the police with a common interest. in the countering violent extremism. the incentive for the muslim community to work with the police is to beg them not to infringe on their civil liberties. they go and say, could you please stop profiling me at the airport. could you please tell i.c.e. to stop deporting our religious leaders. i participated in these programs. it was called community engagement at the time and i'll talk about that in a second. so there's a whole different purpose and a conflict of interest. this is what i'm talking about with the distinction without a difference. i think all of this terminology all just goes back to counterterrorism. for that reason, i tend to be a
little bit suspect in terms of the narrative that the government gives to the community which is let your guard down, trust us, talk to us, cooperate, and you'll be better off from the civil liberties perspective. but, there are -- let me just go back here very quickly. the problem is that they talk partnership but they act adversarial. so if you look at actions -- those of us who are lawyers, it doesn't matter what someone says. it's what they can prove and how they behave. so they go to these outreach meetings and gather information. we have no way to know who that goes to. they'll claim it doesn't do that. talk is cheap. why don't you prove it? are there laws that prohibit you from doing that? you have ausas at the table. i have witnessed situations in boston where you had an ausa in
the outreach and the same ausa was prosecuting a muslim individual who used to participate in the outreach efforts. they nabbed him for some immigration issue. immigration information. so it was a huge conflict of interest. but they walk in with straight face and say, what's the problem with that. a huge at least legitimacy problem. and then you have false statement prosecutions. they will use the meetings to go and meet with people the way that law enforcement recruits informants, they'll meet with people in a non-threatening environment, get to know them, build an informant. then they'll give voluntary interviews to individuals unknowingly thinking they're trying to help the police because they don't want terrorism to happen in the united states. they'll make a false statement about something material that isn't necessarily related to terrorism. did you go to yemen? no. turns out he went to yemen to visit his mother, but he was scared to tell them because he
thought they would think something bad. they use that false statement, that's up to five years in jail. if he's willing to be an informant, they'll drop the charges. it's a very dirty game. very high risk for the community. now there's a whole trend of denaturalization. we're starting to see a troubling trend, they've been here for 20, 30 years and go back to see if they can find a false statement and they go after them hard. it's the al capone method. if you can't get them on terrorism and we can't prove it. we'll find anything we can. it gives them the in into the community too find the bait. it's very problematic. okay. i have run out of time, so i'm going to skip the civil rights implications because obviously with all the civil liberties from the government infringements it creates civil rights. but i'll talk a little bit about the assumptions.
first is, this entire program assumes that, one, muslim home grown terrorism is a serious problem when the facts and the data show otherwise. the vast majority of those who have attempted to engage in terrorism on u.s. soil are either foreigners who have come are recently here or part of a sting operation. there's a small minority that in fact people born and raised here and they got involved in a terrorist act. that's in addition to the fact that there's more numbers of non-muslim, i hate to use the word home grown terrorism, but terrorism suspects that are actually not related to islam whatsoever. it assumes these terrorists are freely operating and talking within muslim communities as if they're hiding them. they're among us. if you infiltrate us, you will find us. when in fact, for example, the youth who often are victims of sting operations who will go
online and they'll try to get them to go to -- to the middle east and it's usually an fbi undercover agent doing that and then they nab them at the airport, their parents have no idea this is happening. their families don't know. their religious leaders don't know. so to go and ask the community, can you snitch, separate from how problematic that is, it's not even effective. and then as if the community is collectively responsible. so it's again, the collective punishment. okay. sorry. i obviously -- i just want to end with the shared responsibilities committee which is now where the fbi is proposing for muslim communities to put together civilian committees to go and make interventions with youth that are radicalizing or being recruited online. there are absolutely no safe harbors. so what happens if you help a youth that you think is trying
to be recruited by a terrorist group and that youth goes and engages in the terrorist act. you couldn't stop them. could you be prosecuted? what about the victims of the terrorist act? could they prosecute you civilly? what guarantees do you have that cooperation with the fbi in good faith doesn't end up putting you in jail? and do you think that the american society will stand up for your rights if they find out that the fbi betrayed your trust? they will not. they will not. so this is the apparatus. and it's very, very entrenched. so i would just end by saying this is something that you all should get to know more about because it's coming to a neighborhood near you. and, you know, first they come for them. then they come for us. and then we all lose. thank you. [ applause ] >> please join us in a round of applause. thank you.
[ applause ] thank you, professor. i just want to say as we transition to our next panel, i think one of the really important things to reiterate is something i think people in this room know but it bears repeating. when you hear muslim, we need to hear a very large number of african-americans. and so there is a significant overlap here. and my understanding -- i'm sure folks in the room will tweet out the right statistic, anywhere from a fourth to a third of muslims are african-american. i am tremendously excited about this next panel. as i mention in the morning, a lot of philosophers, theorists, writers have done a lot of thinking about surveillance and about watching. and yet so few of them have realized the racialized nature of that watching. i think it's -- it's always
risky to talk about 1984, but i will for this purpose. the curious thing -- one of the many curious things about 1984 is that the area of that society -- what's the name of it? anyways, the name of that society, the least surveilled area is the area where the working class lives. i think that is one of the unfortunate aspects of that betrayal. it misses a core aspect of modern surveillance. we are joined by professor browne who has done powerful work in updating that old surveillance to account for that racial gaze and we're joined by professor obasogie. he asked, how do we see race? he asked a very interesting group to figure out how we see race, blind people.
and chairing this is my co-host, professor paul butler. a round of -- >> thank you. [ applause ] >> thank you, alvaro. now time for another deep dive. we've heard from historians, activists, scientists and technicians. we wanted to be a little creative and add some theory to the mix. we have two amazing scholars doing some of the best work on the subject of what we talk about when we talk about surveillance. i guess i've always thought of surveillance as a visual technology. i think a lot of us did until osagie had this brilliant idea. he asked a simple question that nobody had asked before, how do
the blind see race. in his book "blinded by sight" disrupts the way that we understand race and the way that we understand what it means to see. so he's going to tell us about what he's discovered. >> well, thank you, paul. it's really good to be here and i'm really excited to be part of this panel. in the aftermath of pearl harbor and the united states formally entering world war ii -- [ inaudible ] -- but this created a bit of a problem for many americans. how can we tell the difference between chinese people who are our allies and japanese people who are now our enemy. two indistinct groups had to be separated. if japanese people were inherently suspicious, their bodies and movements had to be watched closely as a matter of national security.
so "life" magazine stepped in to assist in this project of racial surveillance. "life" published a multi-page spread on how to scrutinize asian bodies to tell the difference between friend and enemy. you see various kind of detailed markings on a chinese person's face to tell the difference, similarly with the bodily depictions. so this example highlights the deep and complicated relationship between race and surveillance. moreover, it shows the political nature of seeing race. that is, how racial bodies become seen as visually obvious because political circumstances change the way that we see. seeing and surveillance are often understood as mutual or natural engagements with the world around us. when individuals or the state engage in surveillance, it is thought they are simply observing and collecting information about activities that are visually obvious.
as this example from world war ii highlights, seeing an observation may very well have little to do with visual perception. rather than being self-evidence, our ability to see race and the attention we paid to it may come from something other than the notion that race is something that visually obvious. to explore this idea, i conducted a series of interviews with people who have been totally blind since birth and asked them about their understanding of race and racial experiences. this research is the first time that anyone explored the way that race is understood in the blind community. since race is strongly connected to visual cues, it is largely assumed that race much diminished significance to blind people. this assumption is the genesis of the popular color blind probe that we see in law and public policy where being blind to race is thought to bring a racial utopia. that's thought to exist in the blind community due to their inability to see. we think of blind people as
folks who treat people according to their character and not their skin color. they may be able to speak to the social practices that inform their understanding of race. since these are practices that similarly affect sighted people, but are less accessible to them, blind people's experiences can sharpen our understanding of how race becomes visual for all people. moreover, this can provide insight into the social conditions that make surveillance of racial bodies possible. so a quick note on methods. so the target population for this research were blind people who have been totally blind since birth. i also interviewed a small sample of sighted individuals to understand whether or not blind people's understandings of race are different from sighted people. i interviewed the adults selected through snowball sampling.
each interview was recorded with the respondent's consent. transcribed by a third party and coded with research software. okay. so the first step in this project was to establish two common sense approaches to race within the sighted community. first, that sighted people have a visual understanding of race and second that sighted people think that blind people have a diminished understanding of race. these were established through my interviews. in the interest of time, it is clear that sighted people think that race is visually obvious. that as a result it's not important to blind people. let's move onto the core research question. race is understood and experienced by blind people the same way experienced by those that are sighted. that is visually. the vast majority primary associated race with skin color and other visual cues. many of you may be thinking that any visual understanding of race that blind people might have reflects a general awareness of how the rest of the world operates.
these findings show it goes deeper than that. blind people's visual understanding of race profoundly shapes the way they think about it. it also affects their response to race at deeply emotional levels. the blind respondents i spoke with gave similar answers. one person said race is a way of dividing up human beings according to color of skin. these are blind respondents. another said race is skin color, color of one's pigmentation. another said race is color. even though i can't see it, that's what i tend to think of. while there was variation in the responses, most blind respondents went in visual terms. this often went beyond mere skin color to have a more sophisticated understanding of the range of visual cues. one blind respondent defined race as physical attributes that make people different from each other, skin color, maybe some of the physical features that make people different from one another.
another noted, it's not only skin color because it's also other characteristics. i know the black race has facial structure and body structure. i know that each race has its set of characteristics to go with it. color can be a defining characteristic. race is not only based on color. these passages highlight how blind people often have a nuanced understanding to signify race often as sophisticated as their sighted peers. what becomes apparent is that the ability to see the markings that define racial boundaries is neither necessary or sufficient in explaining the strong association of race with visual cues. if blind people define and react to race in visual terms, then the empirical evidence pokes holes in the assumption that race is visually obvious or self-evident. something much deeper is at play. other sensory experiences also
affirm the importance of race for blind people without displacing the visual significance. while no sighted respondents identified voice, over half of the blind respondents reported using accent, tone and speech to estimate a person's race. this should not be surprising. what is surprising however is that these audible clues do not stand in for the visual cues nor do they become primary in how blind respondents conceive race. voice and accent remain secondary measures. so one respondent said voice and accent doesn't mean anything to me except that i know they have different skin color. another said, as i got older, i realized or learned that voice is not a very good way to identify someone because it's not reliable. okay. so blind and sighted people are
part of the same social fabric that directs individuals to pay inordinate attention to visual cues that signify a racial difference. this process is effortlessly transparent for sighted people in which it makes the social experience visually obvious. but it takes a bit more work for blind people, excuse me, reducing race to visual cues. as a result blind respondents are capable of describing the social practices that give the visual cues associated with race a feeling of obviousness. he thinks of race in terms of skin color because, quote, that's what people talked about when i was little and first introduced to people of races other than my own, they used terms that had to do with skin color. visual cues communicated through friends and family racial vocabulary. it also shapes the underlying meanings given to racial labels
that informs a visual sensibility given to blind people. another blind respondent notes, i was brought up to learn i was white of course. i learned that i was white so that white could be contrasted with black. one of the first memories of have is driving with my father downtown and he said, do you smell that smell snl he said that's the smell of nigger town. he was perfectly glad to tell me what that meant. then he began to describe all the stereotypes of being a negro. there was supposed to be this difference. it didn't matter, you still weren't a white person and that's the way it was. he would say, you know, what you smell is partly the way they keep their houses and yards and there's trash laying all around. then part of what you smell is just them, they can't help it. he would go on, they talk differently because they're less educated, less capable of being educated. pretty soon you begin to develop
a race identity that's wow, this is sad for them and sad for us too. it's through these type of repeated social interactions that visual differences can become vividly real even for those that cannot see. socializations are leverages to inform differences that cannot be seen so that they feel like common sense. a belief system that race is visually obvious is being structured. the experience related by blind respondents are not unique to the blind community. rather, they reveal how all individuals are trained to seek and give meaning to the visual distinctions that society seems important. one respondent provided an example, quote, we had a babysitter -- excuse me. we had a babysitter named ellen who was black. i came down and said to my mother, what are you doing. she said, i'm washing the counters. i asked, why are you washing the counters? she said, black people smell and
your babysitter was here last night. i said, that's interesting and filed that away. ellen came back the next week and i walked up to the counter and sniffed it. she said, what are you doing, i said, i'm sniffing the counter because my mom said you guys smell and she was right. this illustrates how differences didn't make a difference until it was pointed out and racialized. becoming an intrinsic part of who black people are. it does not take a fantastic leap of logic to see how these social practices create a visual sense of racial difference among blind people and make visual cues seem obvious boundaries. in many instances, race was socialized to not only take on a visual significance, but a deeply emotional one that impacts their everyday lives. one area that's particularly revealing is in dating and romantic relationships. one blind black respondent said,
quote, i just love african-american women. i don't know why. i had white friends that i hung out with and we went to class together and worked on projects together. i just never had a desire to do that. i tried it but i just couldn't gravitate to it. i think i did it about a week and i was like, no, i can't do this. this respondent explains some of the cultural barriers that make interracial dating difficult. different tastes in music and food and other things. s cultural barriers can be difficult to transcend. by this interview revealed a difficulty with race as it plays out in physical differences, not merely cultural ones. other respondents voiced this hesitation as a desire to not disrupt social norms. this is an acknowledgement that it provides a visual image that they may not be able to perceived but is looked down upon in society. one respondent recalled a white friend's experience, quote, he was going to college and started working with a reader. she was very attracted to him and he started seeing her.
then somebody told him she was black and he broke it off. he justified it by saying it would not have worked in the south. he justified it by saying would not have worked in south where a white plan could be involved with a black woman. once he learned she was black, prejudice set in. how race becomes a primary filter for dating within the blind community. he said, quote, a lot of my black blind friends have sort of a joke because when someone doesn't know our race, especially males they'll find out a way to reach out and touch our hair. i go to conventions now, national conventions for blind and people trying to meet somebody to date. you can see they're pursuing somebody they find attractive and go for their hair and then change their mind. they're still friendly. i never known anyone who stopped talking to anybody altogether.
they'll give themselves some time, but, you're black. what does this mean? this project's empirical contribution can be summarized by one of the blind respondents who said, quote, race is not a mystery to blind people, was kind of sad. sometimes sighted people look at blind folks and think these people can show us to a star trek race blind society. it be great if we can do that. but we're just as much a victim of racial prejudice, stereotypes and misconceptions as anyone else. the fact we're not clued into it directly by vision doesn't change that a bit. another blind respondent, quote, race plays just as important part for blind people as it does for others. i wish we could be the societal model that would show every society who gives a damn how to be color-blind but i don't think we can. there's more to race than what's visually observed. we built race whether it's there or not. we can't live in a world without knowing this unless you are blind and cognitively impaired. this highlights the project's key finding the presumption that race is obvious is part of a social process that produces a visual understanding of race, at the same time it masks its own
existence by making race seem obvious. these perceived visual distinctions are social practices that are so strong that even blind people see on organized lies around visualized race. rather than being obvious, seeing race is social rather than visual phenomenon. the salients of race is linked to social practices that produce visual understandings for race in blind and sighted people. i talk about this "blinded through sight, seeing race through the eyes of the blind," these findings provide a basis from which to start questioning a key premise of surveillance policies and technologies. practices work from suggestion that visual surveillance is in a sense merely observation or neutral assessment of people's behaviors. this work shows how seeing and vision are inherently political processes constituted by social norms. surveillance of marginalized
people entails political process of creating visible black and brown body that becomes a target. the connection between my work and issues of surveillance is that the research on race and blindness shows how visibility of black and brown criminal bodies is produced by broad political narratives rather than anything obviously seen in the community. by engaging expanding forms of surveillance, the state creates suspicious behavior it says it observes. this is why surveillance must be questioned and resisted as a project of racial justice. thank you. i look forward to your comments. >> thank you. >> thank you so much, osagie. that was fabulous. look, a negro, that famous line took simone brown on a journey that she details in her book "dark matters."
how could you not love a book that has a chapter called "everybody got a little light under the sun?" everybody's got a little light under the sun, a famous song. another one called "what did the tsa find in solange's fro"? simone, what did the tsa find -- [ laughter ] >> thank you. i don't have an answer for that one, but thanks for sharing it. i'm going to talk, briefly, about a couple of moments to get us to a jumping off point to talk about how people often critique surveillance often using those very tools of surveillance. some people call that a surveillance, inversion of that. two instances. study came out on twitter yesterday, they -- a psychologist department at uva interviewed medical students to ask them these questions around
if they think that blacks age more slowly, do whites have larger brains than blacks, are black's skins thicker than white. stereotypes, the idea of the super predator, these things i want to link it to another story that came out as well this week. this is an image of a recording and the transcript of that of a woman called ethel easter, she had gone to august, complained about issues around hernia and she had gone to see a surgeon and she was really kind of disappointed the way that he talked to her. when she went to have the surgery two weeks later, what she did, so it gets back to solange, she hid within her braids a recorder about the size of a usb recording what they were saying while she was on the operating table. you see use of surveillance
technologies to record. what came out of moments were quite shocking for her. they spoke about her being a queen, called her pejoratively precious, in reference to the film, made reference to bill cosby, innuendos of unwanted touching and taking photographs. these are moments when she used technology to kind of turn a gaze on the medical model. we talked about the racial gaze earlier on, paul, you mentioned it. you can see how the gaze takes on a particular medical dimension. look at one of my colleagues, sarah brain, using longitudinal data, the ways in which they avoided places like hospitals, like other institutions, and you can see kind of the link between that matrix of policing and also hospitals as well, too.
both of us use this image here, i use it as a jumping off point. this is desi crier, he was a worker in a camping store at texas who tested out this technology, hp technology, for facial automation. he was trying to see if the camera would zoom, tilt, and pan the way it was technically supposed to. but he found it wouldn't follow him. when his colleague, so he called himself black desi and colleague white wanda. when she would enter the frame, the camera worked properly, able to adjust to her movements. it was unable to read desi. i look at these moments, i think what happens to surveillance when we question conditions of blackness. when we look at how blackness enters the frame. so there are other moments in which you have this prototypical whiteness. i know the next series of questions will look at biometric technologies. the idea that this is also about automation as well, too.
i'm going to skip ahead because i want us to have a conversation and i hope the other group will take up moments of the memiification of prototypical whiteness. a moment last summer, an intersection here, intersection of river rock trail and dunes drive in the craig ranch development of mckinney, it. 15-year-old jajerna breckton was thrown, kneeled on and detained by a mckinney police officer. many saw the video to detain a girl in a bikini at the time. the original clip shot by a 15-year-old boy, brandon brooks. i have a quote from him. he says everyone who they were putting on the ground was black, mexican, arabic. the cop didn't even look at me. it was kind of like i was invisible. i'll close there. thank you. [ applause ]
>> so, get us started in the conversation and quickly invite your comments. please, think of questions for this amazing group. we thought a lot about blackness and the white gaze. i'm curious about how the white gaze relates to white people. so some critical theorists said we don't define whiteness other than it not being of color. so we have lots of constructs of what it means to be black. not so many constructs what it means to be white. so i'm curious about whether the blind see whiteness, how they think about that. >> interesting question. so the blind white respondents i spoke to exhibited what was
termed racial transparency in her piece from 1990s she talks about how whites are unable or unwilling to see race or their own race or whiteness as a race but see other people as racialized as black or latino. they don't see white or whiteness as a racialized existence. the same phenomenal i saw in the blind and white respondents i spoke to, they were able to talk about race as something other communities have but didn't see themselves as a race or whiteness as a racialized experience. so, that's again another example of the kind of parallel racial experiences between sighted and blind people and how that stems from a similar social experience in terms how whites are racialized and socialized and think about race something other people have. which reflects a certain amount of white privilege. >> you both have an idea that seeing is political. it not biological.
it's not impurical. it's value laden. so, when we think about what we want to happen on the ground, the kinds of transformation that we need, what's the corrective?? does there need to be a corrective? are there glasses that could help us see better? >> it's a great question. i think all the answers that have been given at this time. one of the things i try to do is have a short hand we can talk about. the technologies -- this is where i need to move that -- some of the images i flew by were biometric technologies. changes we can have a critical understanding, we can ask questions how they're stored shared or sold. and understand the technology of something. when people say algorithm we understand what it is that they're talking about. they question things like those
moments. i went through over the last summer someone was using a google app where you can upload a photo and tag that photo. a building or bicycle. this was a black man when he would upload pictures with his and his friends it would tag him as gorillas. he understood what was happening there. what kind of training data that the technology -- was being fed into this program to understand, to read certain black faces as gorillas and long histories of doing as that. he called them out on twitter using the same technologies to question what was happening. that space to call out and offer corrective for the ways in which these technologies seem to be designed to privilege certain bodies around gender, class, race, they're not outside of our understandings of race, terrorism, of citizenship and these types of things. >> okay. time for maybe one or two
questions from the audience. yes, sir? >> yeah, i thank you very much for talking about it. but i think as we are doing that, i hope that this doesn't get lost just between a white and black issue and the whole racial gays as well. because it's also something that while within the context of white supremancy all the people of color are less than human. i think we also need to separate what does people of color mean. i think it white washes a lot of hierarchy that is within the people of color community as well. i mean, how muslims and south asians and arabs look at black people. how latinos look at black people. how asians look at black people as well. iate ho when we talk about surveillance and racial gays it is part of that. someone said the muslims are the new blacks. it's like saying all lives matter.
absolutely not. it's like i wish muslims would learn from black resistance movement they have built over time and at least just fight back the system as blacks have been doing. i want to throw that in the mix. we don't want to get lost and glaze over that how other people of color look at black folks and what happens with that. thank you. [ applause ] >> well, time for one more question, anyone have a question? >> hello. i guess my question is related, actually. but it was in working with blind people and talking to them about race, i was wondering if you had any findings where they expressed like, different -- some understanding of the way people even within a given, like racial category are treated differently because of like, say how dark their skin actually is or what features they have. or, you know, the way their hair
is. how much they conform to the like, society's ark typical idea of what a black or white person looks like. is that level of nuance also there in their understanding, or is it sort of more like black and white as it were. >> yes, there was a bit of nuance. things such as hair texture or skin, how skin feels in terms of roughness versus other tactile feelings. that was there. it was present but was much more prevalent in the conversation where the broad measuring sticks of who is black who is white who is latino, who falls in the categories. there are buckets of understandings of how human diversity could be put into various categorization with a nuance of what happens within the categories but not as rich as we see. >> we do have a couple more minutes. if people have other questions.
while you're thinking of questions, you know, i was -- when i was listening to his talk i was remembering a familiar question from my mom when i was a kid growing up in the old days when there were land lines and no caller id. someone would call and want to speak to my mom. i'd say mom, someone's on the phone. she'd say black or white? black or white? that was significant. it gave her information that she needed. and coding, when people of color do it it sometimes is a survival skill. >> hi, i wanted today piggy back off of this gentleman's question. as far as when you i guess conducted your research on with the blind people, did you find some of them even had thoughts
of other than, you know, texture of hair and skin, did they have other types of stereotypes of how certain people are, even though they've never seen these people? to me at least i work with a blind person, i find some of the comments she makes she couldn't have known if someone didn't tell her this or ingrain this -- it wasn't ingrained in her, the way she was brought up. did you find some people said things and you were like how would you know that if you can't see? >> right. that is an interesting question about the social construction of race. how do certain types of meanings attach to certain types of bodies. that was a phenomenon that was prevalent in the blind community. and that's something that happens. it's a learned practice. it's something, again, individuals being part of a society that's what we're getting at. what my research gets at talking to blind people about their
ability to understand race as a visual phenomenon that's separate. as opposed to understanding how race comes to attach to certain types of bodies the question i'm looking at is how certain bodies comes as visually salient to begin with. my research shows the process of coming to see racialized bodies as distinct different salient that is also a deeply social and political process so much so even blind people come to see race differently. they talk about race in visual terms even though it's something they can't perceive. my work has shown how this is a parallel process. since blind people don't have access to vision they're more read abably able to talk about. it's the same experience we all go through. >> some of the things you raise with your interviews with the blind reminded me of the slide i showed at the beginning of the interviews with people who are doctors and the residents and
the ways in which they thought about black people as not being able to feel as much pain or healing quicker. to piggy back off that question as well, the effects of that is often that black people receive in hospitals less pain killer medication. improper care. and so those are the outcomes, the material outcomes of these kinds of processes of how blackness is understood in the hospital. >> what were the numbers in that slide? >> want me to bring it back up? >> yes. >> was it percentages or? >> and while she is accessing the slide. is there another question? >> i think it was a matter just to bring out the questions that -- the framing of the questions as opposed to -- i don't have all the data how many people they were -- having the survey. thank you. >> hi, so this -- my question goes back to a lot of different things that were spoken about
today, especially the recitivism risk. it goes back to the idea of the whiteness and experience of being white. i'm sure you're familiar with lutanya's sweeney's research. she would google her name and white sounding names and there were no such ads. part of the response of google is there is no responsibility. even though we might call this racist algorithms there's a lack of responsibility. i feel like that is directly tied -- tell me if you agree to the fact that people who work at google are almost entirely white. >> there's a woman named alison bland from princeton she has a tweet. she knows there are no black engineers at google when it said
turn right at malcolm 10 boulevard. >> help me thank our panelists. [ applause ] that was fantastic. thank you so much, professor brown. so in the morning, i mentioned that i think one of the underexplored, i think it merits much more exploration is the u.s. of surveillance technology developed the national security surveillance for military surveillance in the domestic context. i want to take a little running tally here. we've heard about two of these technologies. we've heard about predictive policing technology. it was originally developed to detect hot spots in the battle fields of afghanistan and iraq. it is now used to detect hot spots in the inner city. we learned about stingray technology. thanks to freddie martinez of lucy parsons labs which you
should follow right now. is using the freedom of information act to figure out how stingrays, another military grade surveillance technology is being used on the streets of chicago. in predominately low income black and latino communities. now we'll hear from my wonderful colleagues from the center on privacy and technology clara garvey and jonathan frankal on a third technology that's being used in this manner. facial recognition technology. . >> thanks. >> [ applause ] >> i want to set up this decision about facial recognition technology with a bit of a hypothetical. imagine you're walking down the street in a town or city, something we do all day or daily. you're heading home from work maybe, you're going to a doctor's appointment. maybe you're attending a political rally. generally speaking when we engage in this type of activity, we do so with the assumption
that we're doing so anonymously. we have relative anonymity. we're presenting our face in public. we may come across a co-worker or neighbor they'll say hi they'll identify us. we don't think we're going to be singled out, identified and we don't expect to be tracked by just presenting our face in public. now, think about the cameras you're probably passing by, especially in larger cities. these are traffic cameras, personal security dcameras and police cameras. imagine they're zooming in on your face. they're extracting a template of that face and using that template to figure out who you are. all in a matter of seconds. this is being done for law enforcement purposes. so thanks to the vast improvements in facial recognition technology and in the use of facial recognition
technology by federal state and local law enforcement agencies this is no longer a hypothetical. this is a reality. for example, this is already deployed in la by the police where a couple years ago they set up 16 cameras that could use facial recognition technology to surveil in realtime. in northern la. capable of extracting a face template from up to 600 feet away. this is not just limited to la. these are other police departments, chicago, dallas, west virginia, others have acquired or are actively considering acquiring the exact capabilities. this is one type of facial recognition technology. and there are others. there are mobile units that allow for field ident physician by police officers. and then far more common are desktop facial recognition systems where an officer can upload a facebook photo camera still from a cell phone or maybe
a cc tv camera. these are very common throughout the u.s. now. so we're here to discuss how this technology runs the risk of disproportionately affecting african-american citizens. the center on privacy and technology now is conducting a widespread research project on how police departments at the state and local level are using facial recognition. what types of systems they're deploying and in particular what policies, if any, they have in place to constrain or inform the use. alongside this we're examining the biases that exist in facial recognition technology and the risk that the deployment of facial recognition by state and local law enforcement agencies will disproportionately affect african-american communities. so the study is based on a records requests we sent to more than 100 different agencies and
we're in the process of reviewing over 10,000 pages. we're in the preliminary stages. there are a very wide variations in how the systems are deployed at the state and local level. there are desktop systems, there are mobile systems. another difference we find, some of these systems are run against mug shot data bases others are run against driver's license data bases if you have a license from that state you are enrolled in a facial recognition data base that's used by state and local law enforcement. if you have a driver's license from ohio, you're in a facial recognition data base that's used by police. the second general finding we have -- did i mention we're in the initial stages of reviewing
this documents. the other general finding that -- such as a wire tap defense or a felony. and then we have a fair number of agencies that actually have no policy on the books whatsoever. they do have access to facial recognition systems. they conduct no audits of how they use the system. they don't even keep logs. so we're finding some of the agencies not only do we not have that much transparency as citizens, as researchers into how they use the systems, the law enforcement agencies themselves don't have that much knowledge about how they're using them. so now i'm going to turn it over to jonathan to speak how directly this ties into today's
conversation of surveillance of the african-american community. >> okay. we've been taking a look recently about the connections between our facial recognition research and today's theme. and i think there are a couple of different aspects i want to dig into. the first is just the risk of discriminatory surveillance in the way these systems are used. i mean, we've heard almost ad nauseam today that african-americans received disproportionate attention from the police and criminal justice system. african-american makes make up 8% of the population but 25% of the prison data base. and here's a really neat slide that claire found. and so another big issue is that this technology is likely to be disproportionately employed on
groups who are already subject to overpolicing. you can see people of color were between 1.5 and 2.5 to be surveilled. i think that tells you a substantial part of the story there. as a computer scientist i was interested in asking whether the technology itself can be discriminatory. two of my anecdotes got stolen by the previous speakers. there was a microsoft connect issue where it couldn't recognize african-americans and there was also the google labelling of african-americans an gorillas there are interesting consumer reports followed up and couldn't validate the results. there is questions on those situations, but all three of the situations are a result of algorithms, the same that law enforcement is using. i was interested in taking look
at the literature to see if anybody has studied the issue in a rigorous scientific manner. the first study i found -- the context for this every four years nift performs algorithms that are sold to law enforcements and research algorithms, the studies are voluntary. in 2011 they took algorithms and separated in two groups, developed in east asia and western europe and the united states. they wanted to see how accurate it was on pictures of east ya z asians and caucasians. you'll see the black hiline represents the east asian algorithms they were more accurate on east asian faces. the opposite was true. on caucasians the algorithm was
better. this is a well-documented psychological phenomenon. people tend to be better at distinguishing members of their own race. facial recognition algorithms seem to have a similar issue and other race effect. what this means it's a setting in which an algorithm is developed can affect it. knowing the american software developers look like me. it is more likely to be used on african-americans. we take a look at another study, it tests three commercial algorithms that are made by companies who sell to law enforcement. they were tested on actual mug shots from pinelts county, florida. all three graphs, take a look at the green line and the red line which represents the performance on african-americans. i wouldn't pay too much attention to the blue line there wasn't a ton of data on latinos,
the results from erratic from graphic to graphic. in this particular set of graphs i'm showing a consistent gap between the green and red line which raises concerns given the technology is focused on perhaps the communities on which it performs worst. so what can we conclude from the information? so as a scientist, i want to caution this isn't enough information to convict or indict. but this is certainly enough information to suggest there are technical questions we should be asking about the way the algorithms work. how pronounced is e effect? we were scraping the bottom of the barrel in the research literature. it's hard to say. and then are these algorithms being tested for bias? we've had a hard time finding studies and interviewed companies about the issue and they could not point to a specific test they ran. where does the bias come from? perhaps the demographic for the
engineers, i'm skeptical. the training sets that are used to train the algorithms. perhaps some people are hardinghardiner to recognize than others. one company speculated this might be the case because of color contrast. i'm going to hand it over to claire to talk more about the study. >> to sum up, facial recognition is beginning to challenge our expectations of anonymity in plu public spaces. it's a powerful policing tool and it's critical to understand the risks it poses particularly if it has the risk which we're finding in our research to impact certain communities, african-american citizens. so we will be publishing a pretty broad report on this, hopefully this summer. which will include recommendations to the federal
government state and local agencies, police departments, companies and advocates on how to begin addressing this issue. thanks so much. i guess we have time for questions as well. [ applause ] [ inaudible ] >> the secure communities nickative building the next generation data base. i want to invite you to the extent you can draw conclusions with respect to latinos and facial recognition generally and
not just to the extent it's been accurate but immigrants in the undocumented communities may be targeted similar to african-americans. >> i'll take the technical half of the question. technically speaking this particular study, these graphs look clean. a lot of the other graphs were all over the place i wouldn't draw too many conclusions. most of the studies i've seen looking at racial differentials showed it between asian americans and caucasians because it was collected from campuses. caucasians and african-americans, this was pretty much the one. there may have been one other study. with latinos, this is pretty much it. there was nothing else i could find in the literature. >> i think my addition to this would be an unsatisfactory
answer. there is research particularly through epic on the system which i would probably point you to. but this is probably a limitation of our study more than anything else. >> could you talk for a second about what you mean when you say that the algorithm fails and what the ramifications are of that practically? this might be a benefit if the overpoliced communities are actually not being subject to an accurate tracking and identification then maybe we should let it slide as long as possible. >> certainly. that's a fantastic question. so there are two kinds of failures they distinguish in the literature. false accepts where it says, okay, these two people are the same when they're not the same. it might say this person is the same when it's not. there are false rejects where it says, okay, this person should be the same but they're not. this particular study typically
the way the studies are done if you want to get technical. look at the x factors and say they fix the false accept rate and show the true accept right or how many times do they get it right. the way the graphs are framed what you'd want to contrast is the false accept rate to see how often an african-american is misidentified as a correct person when they're really not. if you turn the graph on its side you can see that the false accept rate will be higher. typically the way the studies are structured it would be hard to draw the conclusion. you can speculate it would be better if it had a hard time matching african-americans in general. i think that would be an overly simplistic way to take a look at the study. >> we can hypothesize that there are -- depending on the purpose of the system itself, there are different ways to set up the algorithm in the system that maybe sometimes you want to be overinclusive and sometimes you want to be underinclusive.
i would hazard a guess, that if it's being used as an investigative tool they want to be overinclusive because it's more helpful as a tool. they don't want -- if it's not a good law enforcement tool they're not going to use it. >> the other tiny thing i'll throw in because i know we're out of time. the way law enforcement uses the algorithms is they measure the similarity between pairs of photos and set a threshold for above the similarity and we consider it a possible match. so the problem with perhaps if it's good at false rejecting for african-americans is that the particular african-american who is being targeted in the search might fall below the freshhold but that means that other people that are higher up could get implicated instead. false rejects can turn into false accepts depending on how the system is. >> let me point your attention to an essay on how to solve the
problem. we're running behind so we'll take a 10 minute coffee break. join us a minute after 3:35. 3:36. you will not want to miss professor henning's presentation. 3:36. see you soon. [ applause ] coming up in 40 minutes a world bank lead economists details the new economic report on the russian economy. she'll speak at the john hopkins school of advanced studies and you'll see it live at noon eastern. on cspan 2 a panel of experts discuss how isis is using social media to recruit supporters you'll hear about what's being doing to combat isis' activities online. it begins live at noon, eastern. and jobs numbers were released for april earlier today with 160,000 jobs being added in the unemployment rate staying at 5%.
on american history tv on cspan 3. >> we're here to review the major findings of our full investigation of fbi domestic technology including the cointel program and other programs aimed at domestic targets. fbi surveillance of law abiding citizens and groups, political abuses of fbi intelligence and several specific cases of unjustified intelligence operation. >> the 1975 church committee hearings convened to investigate the surveillance of the government. staff assistant to president nixon, on a plant he presented to president nixon to collect information about radical groups using burglary electronic surveillance and opening of mail. >> the bureau had over taken for a number of years