Monday, 5 April 2004

Labor Tech 2004 denounces surveillance of travellers and transportation workers

I spent the weekend at the Labor Tech 2004 conference on labor and technology at Stanford University, where I spoke about the surveillance of travel and transportation workers (more on those issues in a separate article) as part of a panel on the surveillance of workers.

International labor and technology activists participating in Labor Tech 2004 included several from Asia and Latin America who had been enrolled in the US-VISIT program (fingerprinted, photographed, and had a dossier created, to be kept for life, on their biometric and biographic travel history) as a condition of entry to the USA. Some had even been criticized by fellow activists in their own countries for attending the conference in the USA in spite of boycotts against travel to or through the USA being organized in protest of US-VISIT.

Economic analysis of US-VISIT has focused on how many billions of dollars a year in spending by inbound international tourists the the USA will lose to other, more governmentally welcoming, destination countries they will go to instead.

But business and convention revenues will be lost as well: US-VISIT will increasingly prompt organizers of international conferences and business meetings to hold them in Canada, where international visitors face fewer visa and entry and exit hassles, instead of the USA. Hotel rates and other convention costs are currently so much lower in Canada that meeting planners will soon realize that even events solely for attendees from the USA can be held more cheaply in Canada than the USA. The result is that what is supposedly a “Homeland Security” measure for the USA will shift billions of dollars in business travel spending, by people from the USA, to Canada.

At the closing plenary on Sunday, 4 April 2004, participants in Labor Tech 2004 voted unanimously to adopt the following, among their resolutions:

Resolved, that Labor tech 2004 opposes the surveillance of workers and supports the freedom of workers to travel and assembly.

Specifically, Labor Tech 2004 calls for a halt to:

  1. Fingerprinting and photographing of visitors to the USA, including our sisters and brothers travelling to this conference, under the US-VISIT program;
  2. Requiring transportation workers to be fingerprinted and photographed and to carry a secretly and remotely readable Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC); and
  3. Extending these programs to travellers within the USA through the CAPPS-II program and RFID/biometric passports.
Link | Posted by Edward on Monday, 5 April 2004, 07:38 ( 7:38 AM)
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