This week on CounterSpin: Boycotts are not only a constitutionally protected form of speech, they are a social tool with which citizens, often reduced to their role as consumers, try to use that role to reflect their values—about the treatment of farmworkers or an apartheid government. That speech and that tool are under attack right now, but not in general; current moves in Congress and some states only concern themselves with penalizing boycotts aimed at territories illegally occupied by Israel. We’ll hear about so-called “anti-BDS” laws, and their context, from Josh Ruebner, policy director at the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights.
Also on the program: “People should be free to walk down the street without being watched by the government.” It sounds uncontroversial, in a society with aspirations toward democracy. But that precept is not at all a given in 2019 America, where a company like Google or Amazon has the capacity—a growing capacity—to track people in public space, and to identify them using facial recognition technology. How will they use these powerful surveillance tools? Amazon‘s early move was to meet with ICE officials to market the tools to them. We’ll talk about the concerns, and the pushback to face surveillance, with Shankar Narayan, director of the Technology and Liberty Project at the ACLU of Washington state.