MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Are You a Woman Traveling Alone? Marriott Might Be Watching You.

Posted by M. C. on February 5, 2019

Under pressure from the federal government and driven by persistent myths about the nature and prevalence of sex trafficking, hotel chains like Marriott have become the new frontiers of the surveillance state. Like the indiscriminate spying campaigns that grew out of the 9/11 attacks, it’s an effort based on panic, profiling, and stereotypes, and it is nearly certain to ensnare more innocents than it helps…

https://reason.com/archives/2019/02/05/hotel-surveillance-state-sex-trafficking

When a tweet accused Marriott Hotels of “working with the feds and keeping [an] eye on any women who are traveling alone,” training staff to “spot an escort,” and “not allowing some women [to] drink at the bar alone,” Marriott’s official account proudly confirmed the observation: “You are correct. Marriott employees all over the world are being trained to help spot sex trafficking at our hotels.”…

But the deserved dustup points to a much bigger issue than unusually watchful hotel staff. It’s part of a Homeland Security-backed coalition using human-trafficking myths and War on Terror tactics to encourage citizen spying and the development of new digital surveillance tools.

However well-intentioned, the surveillance tactics that have been adopted by hotel chains are part of a disturbing partnership between hospitality businesses, federal law enforcement, and rent-seeking nonprofits that increasingly seeks to track the movements and whereabouts of people, especially women, all over the country. Under pressure from the federal government and driven by persistent myths about the nature and prevalence of sex trafficking, hotel chains like Marriott have become the new frontiers of the surveillance state. Like the indiscriminate spying campaigns that grew out of the 9/11 attacks, it’s an effort based on panic, profiling, and stereotypes, and it is nearly certain to ensnare more innocents than it helps…

Marriott is also a part of Homeland Security’s Critical Infrastructure Cross Sector Council, which was formed in 2015 to govern “the private sector’s cooperative efforts to advance” DHS priorities. In a 2016 update, Council Chairman Tom Farmer said that “the public has increased its reporting of suspicious activity” thanks to their efforts but “needs additional education on what types of activities should be reported, to whom they should be reported, and how reporting them makes a difference.”

The Blue Campaign’s spot-a-trafficker tips include looking for people who appear fatigued or sleep deprived, guests not wanting cleaning staff in their room, a woman “waiting at a table or bar and picked up by a male,” a car parked with its license plate away from the door, a guest with multiple computers or phones, booking multiple rooms under one name, having a lot of condoms or “sex paraphernalia” around, too many men entering one room, and any “unusual behavior.”

It’s exactly the kind of vague invitation for snooping and snitching that will inevitably snare sexual activity between consenting adults, from sex workers and their customers to couples who doesn’t sit right with staff. In several recent high-profile cases, airline staff trained to “spot traffickers” have harassed interracial couples and families. When people are asked to use gut instinct to stop real but rare horrors, relying on racial stereotypes and other biases tends to rule.

Blue Campaign imperatives also invite harassment of people doing nothing sexual at all. Who hasn’t exhibited fatigue or sleep deprivation while traveling? Or backed into a parking spot for reasons other than evading detection?…

Be seeing you

fbd65970e5519a3c42439a3218536150

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: