Street art in Puerto Rico
by artist SHITTYROBOTS.
Photo by SHITTYROBOTS
DEAUVILLE, FRANCE – MAY 26, 2011 : Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Press conference at the summit G8/G20 about new technologies – Deauville, France on May 26 2011
Photo Credit: Frederic Legrand – COMEO / Shutterstock.com
Nicole Keplinger, 22, had long seen ads on Facebook promising financial relief, but she always ignored them and assumed that they were scams. Keplinger was drowning in student debt after obtaining a worthless degree from the for-profit Everest College, whose parent corporation, Corinthian Colleges Inc., had recently collapsed under accusations of fraud and predatory lending. But when an offer arrived in her e-mail inbox in April—“Cut your student loan payment or even forgive it completely!”—she thought it seemed more legitimate than the rest, so she called the number.
The person on the other end was aggressive. “They wanted my banking information, my Social Security number, my parents’ number and their information. I was like, ‘Wait a minute,’” Keplinger recalled. Even after she said that she lived on a fixed income (on disability due to a kidney transplant), the telemarketer kept up the pressure. “They said I needed to get a credit card. I don’t know if they were going to take money off it or what… but why do I need to get a credit card if I’m trying to reduce my student loans?”
Keplinger lied and said she’d call back, but not everyone gets away. If she disclosed her bank information, her loans most certainly would not have been cut or forgiven. At best, she would have been charged a large fee for something she could do herself: get on government repayment programs such as forbearance or deferment. At worst, she might have had the money debited each month from her bank account without any benefit provided in return, or been ensnared by a “phantom-debt collector”—a distressingly common racket that involves telling people they owe phony debts and scaring them into paying. It’s the perfect ploy to attempt on people who have already been preyed upon by unscrupulous outfits like Corinthian and who, having been misled and overcharged, are understandably confused about how much money they owe. At the same time, the fact that Keplinger was e-mailed in addition to seeing ads on Facebook suggests that her information was in the hands of a “lead generator,” a multibillion-dollar industry devoted to compiling and selling lists of prospective customers online.
Welcome to a new age of digital redlining. The term conjures up the days when banks would draw a red line around areas of the city—typically places where blacks, Latinos, Asians, or other minorities lived—to denote places they would not lend money, at least not at fair rates. “Just as neighborhoods can serve as a proxy for racial or ethnic identity, there are new worries that big data technologies could be used to ‘digitally redline’ unwanted groups, either as customers, employees, tenants, or recipients of credit,” a 2014 White House report on big data warns.
Thus, rather than overt discrimination, companies can smuggle proxies for race, sex, indebtedness, and so on into big-data sets and then draw correlations and conclusions that have discriminatory effects. For example, Latanya Sweeney, former chief technologist at the Federal Trade Commission, uncovered racial bias on the basis of Google searches: black-identifying names yielded a higher incidence of ads associated with “arrest” than white-identifying names. It’s discrimination committed not by an individual ad buyer, banker, or insurance broker, but by a bot. This is likely what happened to Nicole: Facebook’s huge repository of data has strong indicators of users’ socioeconomic status—where they attend school, where they work, who their friends are, and more—and the company targets them accordingly. In May, Facebook and IBM announced a partnership that will result in the two tech giants combining their vast data troves and analytics in order to achieve “personalization at scale.”
The authors of this article saw this firsthand when one of us (Astra) opened a second Facebook account to communicate with Corinthian students: Her newsfeed was overrun by the sorts of offers Nicole sees regularly—in stark contrast to the ads for financial services, such as PayPal and American Express, that she normally gets. Such targeting isn’t obvious to most users, but opening a new profile and associating primarily with students from a school known to target low-income people of color, single mothers, veterans, and other vulnerable groups cracks a window onto another Facebook entirely.
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Longstanding consumer protections should, in principle, apply to the digital landscape. The use of data-driven methods for judging people’s creditworthiness goes back a century. Before the passage of the Fair Credit Reporting Act in 1970, consumer-reporting bureaus would gather information on everything they could find about people—whether true or fabricated, fair or unfair, relevant or irrelevant—and then provide it to creditors. Your dossier was likely to contain whatever information they could get away with collecting or making up about you. So, if you were considered a sexual deviant, a drunk, a troublemaker, an adulterer, or whatever else, it was all fair game if a creditor was willing to pay for that information. The FCRA was meant to limit these practices by putting an end to the collection of “irrelevant” information and establishing rules for the “permissible” uses of consumer reports. In 1974, Congress passed the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which added more bite to financial regulations by making it illegal for creditors to discriminate against applicants on the basis of race, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, or receiving public assistance. Cases brought under ECOA have often focused on the presence of human bias in making credit decisions—think of an African-American woman walking into a lender’s office and receiving unfair rates based on her race or gender.
Of course, the days when creditworthiness was assessed in one-on-one meetings are long gone. Today, lenders, employers, and landlords rely on credit-scoring systems like the widely used FICO score, which take data from an individual’s consumer report and derive a metric of his or her risk. These scores allow for automated decision-making, yet there’s evidence that such systems have not eliminated bias, but rather enshrine socioeconomic disparities in a technical process.
Though deeply flawed, credit scores and consumer reports are immensely consequential in many facets of our lives, from obtaining a loan to finding a job to renting a home. The lack of a score—or a lower score than one actually deserves—can mean higher interest rates within the mainstream banking system, or being forced into the arms of check-cashing services and payday lenders. Scores can become “self-fulfilling prophecies, creating the financial distress they claim merely to indicate,” as legal scholars Danielle Citron and Frank Pasquale have observed. The worse your score, the more you’re charged—and the more you’re charged, the harder it is to make monthly payments, which means the worse you’re ranked the next time around.
With the sheer quantity of data that can be collected online, FICO scores are just the tip of the iceberg. “Now the system has exploded, where you’ve got all these actors that you don’t actually have a relationship with: network advertisers, data brokers, companies that are vacuuming up information,” says Ed Mierzwinski, consumer-program director at the United States Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG). This information comes from sources both online and off-line: Thousands of data brokers keep tabs on everything from social-media profiles and online searches to public records and retail loyalty cards; they likely know things including (but not limited to) your age, race, gender, and income; who your friends are; whether you’re ill, looking for a job, getting married, having a baby, or trying to buy a home. Today, we all swim in murky waters in which we’re constantly tracked, analyzed, and scored, without knowing what information is being collected about us, how it’s being weighted, or why it matters—much of it as irrelevant and inaccurate as the hearsay assembled during the early days of consumer reporting.
Making things even more muddled, the boundary between traditional credit scoring and marketing has blurred. The big credit bureaus have long had sidelines selling marketing lists, but now various companies, including credit bureaus, create and sell “consumer evaluation,” “buying power,” and “marketing” scores, which are ingeniously devised to evade the FCRA (a 2011 presentation by FICO and Equifax’s IXI Services was titled “Enhancing Your Marketing Effectiveness and Decisions With Non-Regulated Data”). The algorithms behind these scores are designed to predict spending and whether prospective customers will be moneymakers or money-losers. Proponents claim that the scores simply facilitate advertising, and that they’re not used to approve individuals for credit offers or any other action that would trigger the FCRA. This leaves those of us who are scored with no rights or recourse. While federal law limits the use of traditional credit scores and dictates that people must be notified when an adverse decision is made about them, the law does not cover the new digital evaluation systems: You are not legally entitled to see your marketing score, let alone ensure its accuracy.
The opacity and unaccountability of online consumer-credit marketing negatively affect not only those individuals who get a bad deal or financial offer; there is evidence that these personalized predatory practices played a role in the subprime-mortgage bubble and subsequent financial crisis. “From 2005 to 2007, the height of the boom in the United States, mortgage and financial-services companies were among the top spenders for online ads,” write Mierzwinski and Jeff Chester in a scholarly article on digital decision-making and the FCRA. Companies like Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and Bing make billions a year from online financial marketing. Lead generation specifically “played a critical, but largely invisible, role in the recent subprime-mortgage debacle.” Since 2008, when the crash occurred, the capabilities for tracking and targeting have become only more sophisticated.
Proof of discrimination in online microtargeting is notoriously hard to come by. How can you tell if you’re being targeted with an advertisement for an inferior or bogus financial product because data brokers have deemed you part of the “rural and barely making it,” “probably bipolar,” or “gullible elderly” market segments? Or if you’re being offered a jacked-up interest or insurance rate based on your race, gender, neighborhood, or health condition? Or whether you’re receiving offers for a subprime financial product because a marketing score flags you as a risk, or you’ve been caught in a lead generator’s snare?
“Measurement is an enormous challenge,” says Aaron Rieke of Upturn, a technology-policy-and-law consulting firm. “You see one ad and I see another. It’s often impossible for a researcher on the outside to find out why. Maybe an ad buyer ran out its budget. Maybe we were profiled differently. Maybe the ads were geotargeted.”
To date, the best indication of potentially discriminatory practices is the marketing literature and public boasting that companies produce themselves. A recent white paper on “Civil Rights and Big Data, and Our Algorithmic Future,” which Rieke helped write, contains a prime example: “At an annual conference of actuaries, consultants from Deloitte explained that they can now use thousands of ‘non-traditional’ third party data sources, such as consumer buying history, to predict a life insurance applicant’s health status with an accuracy comparable to a medical exam.” The company does this partly by incorporating the health of an applicant’s neighbors.
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As many as 70 million Americans do not have a credit score, or have low scores due to “sparse” or “thin” files. A variety of start-ups are trying to exploit this situation under the banner of magnanimously extending credit to individuals facing a disadvantage under the traditional financial model. They do this by bulking up consumer credit files—crunching large amounts of data and feeding it into proprietary scoring formulas. The data comes from traditional sources (such as credit reports) and what some experts call “fringe alternative data,” which can include information about shopping habits, web and social-media usage, government records, music tastes, location, and just about anything else. The new big-data-fueled techniques are the innovative ingredients needed to “disrupt” the traditional business of consumer finance and “innovate” different types of products and services.
ZestFinance, which declined to be interviewed or comment for this article, leads the pack with a troubling motto emblazoned on its website: “All data is credit data.” LendUp, an online lender that specializes in short-term, small-dollar, high-interest credit—like the kind offered by payday lenders, pawnbrokers, and title loans—targets people without access to other forms of credit who need fast cash to make ends meet. On the other side of the socioeconomic spectrum, Earnest—another venture-capital-backed lending start-up—proclaims that it’s trying to “build the modern bank for the next generation, and the mission is better access to credit to millions of people at earlier ages and at cheaper prices—and we do that using software and data,” according to Louis Beryl, the CEO and founder. The project was born out of Beryl’s difficulty in getting a loan as a Harvard graduate student: Earnest caters to middle-class college graduates and offers them low rates (anywhere from 4.25 to 9.25 percent for personal loans) and personalized customer service.
These start-ups all tell very similar stories—common in Silicon Valley—about using technology to benefit their target population, this time through expanding opportunities for financial inclusion. But given the sky-high rates that some of them offer—the annual interest rate for loans offered by LendUp and other similar big-data lenders ranges from 134 percent to 749 percent—they seem little more than high-tech loan sharks. But while traditional loan sharks can only get people who walk through their door, online creditors and marketers have an enormous (and unsuspecting) population at their fingertips online. In myriad ways, these companies represent the ongoing shift of power away from consumers and the erosion of longstanding protections, yet there has been little regulatory scrutiny. “In addition to whether they’re covered by the laws,” says USPIRG’s Mierzwinski, “there is also the question of whether some of their algorithms are trying to evade the laws by creating illegal proxies—and that’s absolutely something that we’re hoping the [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau] can use its supervisory authority to figure out.”
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Officials we spoke to from the CFPB paid tribute to innovation when asked about the potential impact of digital technologies on fair lending. But while there’s no denying that big data, new credit-scoring models, and financial-services start-ups could be beneficial, in theory, for disadvantaged communities, market incentives in practice ensure that stigmatization and exclusion prevail.
Scoring systems are technologies of risk management, and new digital data collection and micro-targeting further shift the risk—and expense—to those who are most vulnerable. For example, compare Earnest and LendUp. The former shows how big data can be used to benefit consumers—but for Earnest, the risk is only worthwhile when dealing with a subset of people whose privilege and financial soundness have yet to be recognized by the mainstream banking system. The latter reveals the more common and exploitative uses of big data to entangle a financially insecure population with few, if any, alternatives available to them.
As the digital revolution unfolds, already limited consumer protections will come under increasing stress. Both the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission lean on the FCRA and ECOA, yet plenty of evidence suggests that new, expanded safeguards are needed, given the laws’ limits and loopholes. That said, both the CFPB’s assistant director of fair lending, Patrice Ficklin, and the FTC’s Julie Brill insist that current laws are up for today’s challenges. “Whether they’re a large bank or a small start-up, it is illegal for lenders to discriminate against consumers,” Ficklin says.
No doubt, the laws currently on the books provide crucial protections—but experts and advocates warn that they don’t take into account the disparate impacts of the new technology. For example, it’s not illegal for companies to discriminate based on a potential customer’s or employee’s personal network—the people they know and the interests they share with others online. “The legal fight against discrimination (or, rather, the legal fight for equality) may be a long distance from the fight to safeguard ordinary people—and especially members of historically marginalized groups—from encountering unfairness and injustice due to data-driven discrimination,” says Seeta Peña Gangadharan, a researcher focused on data profiling and inclusion.
Given this fact, more fundamental reforms are needed. Brill, for one, has been extremely vocal about the need for more robust privacy protections in the form of data-broker regulations that curb data collection at the source. “I think that we need to give tools to consumers so that they can control their information used for marketing, to suppress it or correct it if they want,” Brill says. “I want to add, though, that I don’t think consumers can manage all of this on their own. And that’s why there need to be some rules around sensitive information—for instance, health information, information about race, financial status, geolocation. If that’s going to be used, consumers need to be told, and they need to say, ‘Yes, OK, you can use it.’”
In other words, we need to move from an opt-out model, where the default setting makes our private information freely available to thousands of invisible and unaccountable actors, to one that’s opt-in—a move that would inevitably constrict the flow of private data. This is what Brill calls the “right to obscurity,” a right that will become even more essential as more and more everyday devices get networked through the so-called “Internet of things.” (Imagine a future in which your auto insurer collects data from a device in your vehicle; this data, because it isn’t acquired through a third party, isn’t covered by the FCRA, and consumers have no right to access or correct the information.)
Data brokers and marketers, not to mention advertising-dependent tech giants like Google and Facebook, would not be pleased if such legislation came to pass. Lobbying associations like the Consumer Data Industry Association would no doubt spend huge sums to squelch any reforms, invoking their First Amendment right to use the data for whatever purpose they please, and arguing that advertising and scoring are tantamount to speech, and privacy equivalent to censorship. In his book The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information, Frank Pasquale points out that some lawyers are even using First Amendment cases “as a shield to protect credit rating agencies accused of wrongdoing during the subprime debacle.”
Strong data-broker legislation or, better yet, a baseline, cross-sector privacy law would be an enormously positive (if unlikely) development in the United States. Even so, the frame of privacy/obscurity needs to be expanded. Consider Nicole Keplinger again. When she and other for-profit-college students are targeted by scammers on Facebook, the problem isn’t simply that their privacy has been violated through the collection of personal information. The fact that they are treated as quarry by financial predators raises a deeper issue of fairness. Even in a scenario in which privacy protections are strong, data brokers regulated, and the FCRA and ECOA aggressively enforced, there would be no restrictions against targeting people who are poor. Discriminating based on income is as American as apple pie: Unlike race, religion, sex, or marital status, class is not a protected class.
Right now, many people insist that a combination of digital technology and the free market will solve the problem of financial inclusion, even though it’s a problem caused by the market itself. Perhaps the very concept of “consumer protections”—which inevitably leads to individualized solutions to systemic failures—is part of the problem. Looking back on the role that online consumer-credit marketing played in the 2008 crash, it’s clear that consumer protections are in fact citizen protections. Nothing less than the health of our entire society is at stake.
The US economy shrank at an annual rate of 0.7 percent in the first three months of this year, the Commerce Department said Friday. The new figures mark a sharp downward revision compared with the already anemic 0.2 percent first-quarter growth rate estimated by the Commerce Department in April, and an even bigger slide from the previous quarter, which saw a growth of 2.2 percent.
While the White House was quick to dismiss the dismal figures as the expression of various technical quirks and one-off causes, the fact remains that, seven years since the start of the 2008 financial crisis, the US economy remains mired in stagnation and slump. Friday’s figures represent the third quarterly economic contraction since the beginning of the so-called economic recovery in 2009.
The slump is broadly expected to continue through a large section of this year, with the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta predicting a growth rate of just 0.8 percent in the second quarter. If that were the case, economic growth in the first half of this year would be effectively zero.
Apologists for the political establishment have pointed to the fall in the official unemployment rate as a sign of economic health, declaring that the US economy is on track to hit “full employment” next year. But the official unemployment rate is a fiction, as it entirely discounts the millions of people who have fallen out of the labor force since the 2008 crash. The labor force participation rate remains near a decades-long low at 62.8 percent, down from 66.4 percent in 2006.
While a number of factors contributed to the contraction in US economic output in the first quarter, the clearest and most immediate cause was the collapse in business investment, which fell by 2.8 percent, compared to an increase of 4.7 percent in the previous quarter.
This is not for lack of money. While US corporations are sitting on a cash hoard of some $1.4 trillion, they are refusing to make any significant investments, and are rather spending their cash on share buybacks and dividend hikes, while carrying out mergers and acquisitions at a record-setting pace.
This week, the Wall Street Journal reported that “companies in the S&P 500 sharply increased their spending on dividends and buybacks to a median 36 percent of operating cash flow in 2013, from 18 percent in 2003. Over that same decade, those companies cut spending on plants and equipment to 29 percent of operating cash flow, from 33 percent in 2003.”
The same day as the Commerce Department published its updated economic figures, the financial data firm Dealogic reported that mergers and acquisitions are on track to hit a record in May, with an expected $241.6 billion in deals, topping even the previous record set in May 2007, before the 2008 financial crash.
The enormous amounts of money generated for corporate executives, hedge funds and private equality companies through these mergers—which are largely financed with free money from the Federal Reserve—is the result of the ensuing mass layoffs and cost cutting that inevitably follow such consolidations.
Corporate boards of directors have rewarded CEOs who carry out layoffs and other cost-cutting measures with ever-greater pay packages. CEO pay hit a record high last year, according to figures calculated by executive pay research firm Equilar published in The New York Times earlier this month. The 200 highest-paid CEOs got an average of $22.6 million apiece last year, up 10 percent from the year before and more than double what they were paid in 2006.
The pervasive collapse in investment amid an orgy of financial parasitism has prompted many analysts to declare that the “new normal” is one of stagnant growth. Last month, the International Monetary Fund reported that “potential growth in advanced economies is likely to remain below pre-crisis rates, while it is expected to decrease further in emerging market economies in the medium term.”
Since the official end of the recession in 2009, the US economy has grown at an average annual rate of only 2.2 percent, compared to an average growth rate of 3.2 percent during the 1990s and 4.2 percent in the 1950s.
The fall in investment was particularly sharp in the energy sector, which has been hemorrhaging jobs by the tens of thousands amid falling oil prices. The category of business investment that covers oil exploration fell at an annual rate of 48.6 percent in the first quarter, according to the Commerce Department’s report.
The continued appreciation of the dollar has also led to a decline in exports, as US corporations face lower demand from overseas. US transnational corporations have demanded that the Federal Reserve do more in order to lower the value of the dollar and stimulate exports.
The Federal Reserve, for its part, has responded to the persistent weakness in the US and global economy and the appreciation of the dollar by keeping interest rates at a record low. The Fed has pulled back from its plan to raise the federal funds rate next month, and bank officials have indicated that a rate increase may not come until next year. These actions mirror those of the European Central Bank, which this month announced an expansion of its quantitative easing program amid a persistent economic slump on the continent.
As a result of seven years of ultra-low interest rates, bank bailouts and “quantitative easing,” the major stock markets have more than tripled in value, taking the wealth of the financial aristocracy along with them. The 400 richest individuals in the United States, whose wealth has doubled since Obama was first elected, now have a combined net worth of $2.29 trillion.
The influx of cheap money from the Federal Reserve and other central banks will only continue to fuel the massive orgy of parasitism gripping the economy, facilitating mergers and buyouts that lead to mass layoffs and wage cuts while further enriching the financial elite at the expense of society as a whole.
The US Senate convenes May 31 in a rare Sunday afternoon session called by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to forestall the expiration of Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. This section of the vast police-state law passed in 2001 has been used as the basis for the National Security Agency’s collection of telephone metadata on every phone call made in the United States, as well as authorizing other forms of domestic spying.
In the week leading up to the Senate session, President Obama, Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the heads of the FBI and other security agencies have depicted the potential expiration of Section 215 in apocalyptic terms. Obama made several appearances before television cameras to demand action “because it’s necessary to keep the American people safe and secure.” Lynch said that a failure to act would cause “a serious lapse in our ability to protect the American people.”
Other administration representatives were even more strident. At a press briefing of three top officials, all unidentified at the insistence of the White House, one said, “What you’re doing, essentially, is you’re playing national security Russian roulette. We have not had to confront addressing the terrorist threat without these authorities, and it’s going to be fraught with unnecessary risk.”
This scaremongering is completely cynical. The surveillance powers embodied in Section 215 have nothing to do with defending the American people from terrorist attacks. On the contrary, the American people are the principal target of Section 215, and of the Patriot Act as a whole.
On the eve of the vote, a report by the Justice Department’s own Office of Inspector General conceded that the mass collection of data on telephone metadata—the core of Section 215 as interpreted by both the Bush and Obama administrations—has played no role in any terrorism investigation or prosecution. Another of the key powers under Section 215, authorization of “roving wiretaps” of individuals who change cellphones, has been used in only a handful of cases. A provision for wiretaps of so-called “rogue” terrorists—individuals not connected with any organization—has never been used at all.
Given these facts, how is one to account for the “sky is falling” rhetoric from the Obama administration and its congressional allies, both Republican and Democrat, over the possible expiration of Section 215?
Section 215 is of enormous importance to the government—but not for the reason given. The mass data collection on telecommunications and the Internet is a key element in the development of an authoritarian state that is accumulating vast databases on the political and social views of the entire population. The state is preparing to use this intelligence in an effort to crush popular opposition to ever-growing social inequality, police violence and militarism.
The greatest threat to the democratic rights of the American people comes not from Islamic fundamentalist terrorists or their Internet sympathizers, but from the capitalist state itself, which is the main instrument for defending the profits and wealth of the super-rich against the vast majority of the population, the working class. Whatever form the Senate debate takes on Sunday, this central issue will be evaded and covered up.
The Obama administration is pushing for Senate acceptance of the USA Freedom Act, a bill which makes cosmetic changes in Section 215 while reauthorizing it and placing it on a pseudo-legal foundation. The database of call records would be maintained by the telecommunications companies, rather than directly at NSA headquarters, and the NSA would route its data searches through the telecoms.
This bill passed the House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support, but fell three votes short of winning consideration in the Senate. It appears likely that a dozen or more Republican senators, who initially opposed the bill, will switch their votes in order to beat the May 31 deadline. Procedural obstacles by a handful of Republican and Democratic opponents may delay this several days, which would supposedly lead to a temporary shutdown of the call surveillance program.
There is not the slightest reason to believe that the NSA and the vast military-intelligence complex as a whole will actually take such a step. These agencies engaged in mass domestic spying without any legal authorization long before the passage of the Patriot Act in 2001. As a federal appeals court ruled earlier this month, the Bush-Obama interpretation of Section 215 as an authorization of mass call data collection has no legal basis, meaning that the entire surveillance program has been conducted unlawfully for the past 14 years. Operating outside of and in defiance of the law is second nature to the US spy apparatus.
Even the present half-hearted and thoroughly insincere discussion is only taking place in response to the revelations by whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and Thomas Drake about the massive police-state buildup under the guise of “anti-terrorism.” The same senators who claim to be concerned about the “surveillance state” have joined in condemning the actions of the courageous individuals who done the public service of exposing it.
There will be much posturing in Sunday’s debate, both from those hyping the threat of terrorism, and those, a small minority, claiming to defend constitutional rights. But Republican Rand Paul, Democrat Ron Wyden and other professed opponents of Section 215 are objecting to only a small portion of the Patriot Act, which is itself only a series of amendments to earlier police-state laws like the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The collection of telephone metadata, moreover, is only one of hundreds, if not thousands, of programs through which the US military-intelligence apparatus collects information on the American population.
Gazi to Gezi – a stone’s throw away explores the poetry of a nationwide revolt in Istanbul, Europe’s largest city. An explosive mix of the city’s inhabitants come together to fight the police and barricade themselves into one of the metropolis’ few remaining green spaces, Gezi Park. All are present; from the liberal students, to oppressed, illegal revolutionary groups living among the slums of the city. The film, told through the memory of a stone, attempts to link the past with the present in a cinematic format which is neither factual nor fictitious. Scored to a beautiful soundtrack, the audience is taken into a rebellious world.
Gazi to Gezi – a stone’s throw away (2015)
Produced by Ross Domoney and Ozan Kamiloglu
Script written by Ozan Kamiloglu with the inspiration of Arkadas Özger
Filmed, edited and directed by Ross Domoney
Performancy by Sarah Karakus
Music by Giorgos Triantafillou
Live music performance by Iskender Ozan Toprak