Civics: Hong Kong Protest Tech

Wilson Quarterly:

Governments also drew lessons from the so-called “Battle of Seattle” of 1999 and other actions, seeking to deter the property damage often associated with anti-capitalist protests – and blunt the effectiveness of even peaceful mass gatherings through tactics such as “kettling” (or confining) protestors to particular areas.

Hong Kong’s role as a workshop for a new era of protest takes shape amidst broader global assertions of state power that have resulted from almost two decades of deadly terrorist activity that followed 9/11. These powers are underpinned by rapid advances in the technologies used to track the movements and activities of citizens.

The 2014 Umbrella Movement – named for the umbrellas used by protestors as a shield against tear gas – had already demonstrated the formidable resolve of the city’s pro-democracy protestors. The protests that broke out again in Hong Kong in 2019, spurred by proposed changes in the territory’s extradition law, have taken the city’s residents into new terrain as the tides of fortunes have shifted back and forth over ensuing months.