Everyones being talking about Mark since Oct but what have people learned or changed? We always knew that the state was interested in our activities and that they send people to our meetings and monitor our email etc. However it seemed unlikely that the cops would take us seriously enough to go to such extreme lengths to embed a cop in our circles so deep or for such a long time. Sure, the cops would have their snitches among us, those who dedication to the cause could not compete to their own dedication to drink, drugs, parties and easy cash. Of course we also knew that the corporations we target would also be spying on us and that there were companies who specialised in infiltrating our groups and selling info to whoever would pay. When the news about Mark broke, the surprise wasn't that we had been infiltrated, it was the it was a cop and not simply a private detective or a friend turned informer.
Why would the cops send their asset on expensive overseas trips rather than concentrate on activists in the UK? What did they hope to gain from sending Mark to Iceland or Italy etc? These were just some of the questions we all asked ourselves. As more information has emerged we've learned about Marks connection to Global One who sold info to the likes of Eon. Now the overseas trips make sense, Global Ones corporate paymasters are multinational and while the state might have though Mark was their asset, actually he was playing a wider game selling info directly to our targets. Perhaps his bosses in the force knew this, after all, they are the ones who set up companies like Global One - no doubt it pays significantly better than the state!
So, what should we have learned from all this? What if anything should we change or do differently?
Activist security it shit! I'm always amazed how shit it is while at the same time there is so much paranoid rhetoric. People make such a big deal about the presence of mobile phones (even in public meetings that any cop or Daily Mail reporter could attend), whispering to avoid being overheard by phones in pockets should a comment be too brief to go to the effort of pulling batteries, but they are happy boast about their latest activities to people who really don't need to know. All too often people expose their circles of associates through shoddy email etiquette or the use of social networking sites, or engage in gossip which might supply leverage to our enemies.
I'm not going to try to list things we could do better, there are already resources out there to read and learn from (see the Activist security project for example). However I think we should all do a bit of honest soul searching and think about what we are personally lapse about. For example, I admit it, I don't use TOR to access and post to indymedia, even when posting action reports. I know that is shoddy and dangerous behavior, I should know better. How about you?