Speaking of the challenges faced by the native peoples of North America, this short report from Motherboard, the tech section of Vice, examines the latest revelations from Canada where state surveillance of aboriginal activists is once again making the headlines. Since at least 2014 the federally-based Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has been culling information from law enforcement files and social media platforms to identify and track indigenous protesters across the country. Known as Project SITKA the spying program was outlined in a 2015 document compiled by the RCMP and obtained by Carleton University professor Jeffrey Monaghan and researcher Andy Crosby:
“In March of 2014, according to the document, the RCMP put a call out to its divisions across Canada and local police departments to hand over any information in their databases that might help the RCMP identify and track aboriginal protesters.
…with this data from police and social media, the RCMP identified 313 activists across the country who attended protests “opposing natural resource development, particularly pipeline and shale gas expansion.” Those who attended anti-capitalist protests, and protests regarding missing and murdered indigenous women, were also targeted.
The RCMP then picked out 89 individuals who were found to “meet the criteria for criminality,” the document states, and created what are described as “protester profiles” for each of them.
The RCMP has previously kept tabs on indigenous activists online, but Project SITKA was not known to the public until now. The profiles the RCMP prepared included photos of the individuals, information on which groups and individuals they were affiliated with, what kind of vehicle they drove, and more.
Notably, none of the individuals identified in Project SITKA had actually committed a crime when they became the subject of scrutiny by the RCMP. The RCMP further conclude that “there is no known evidence that these individuals pose a direct threat to critical infrastructure.””