In September, European Digital Rights (EDRi) held the first Colour of Surveillance Europe Conference in Amsterdam and it was such a privilege for me to be selected to attend both days of the conference. The Colour of Surveillance Conference was established in 2016 by Georgetown Law and the Center for Privacy to explore the intersection between the brutality of policing in Black communities and surveillance.
Since 2016, Georgetown Law and the Center for Privacy have held the Colour of Surveillance Conference annually (except in 2020 and 2021). The themes that have been addressed so far include government monitoring of the African American community, government monitoring of American immigrants, government monitoring of American religious minorities and monitoring of poor and working people. This year’s theme was policing of abortion and reproduction.
I knew the EDRi Colour of Surveillance Europe Conference was going to be something special when I saw the agenda: from the panels and the workshops to the somatic practitioner who guided us through the day as we ‘explore[d] key themes, issues, tensions and current organising linking these topics [racism and surveillance].’ What I was most excited about was the opportunity to build connections with others exploring the intersections between racial justice and digital rights, and the disproportionate impact of surveillance on marginalised communities.
Since entering the digital rights space, I have often heard in response to highlighting the specific impact of surveillance on communities that are vulnerable and marginalised ‘well it affects all of us.’ To paraphrase Alvaro M. Bedoya’s (Founding director of the Centre on Privacy and Technology