But as it turns out, advancement is not all in areas that makes our lives easier or better. The Harvey Weinstein scandal, revealed by The New Yorker, showed how a system of Covert Harassment – the breaking down of an individual through psychological means- has been honed over the years into a ruthlessly effective way for the powerful to silence ordinary people.
Weinstein used private investigators to stalk and harass his sexual harassment victims, so they would never come forward. This kind of Covert Harassment has a predecessor. Just as our sleek, high-powered smartphones were preceded with bulky barely-portable equivalents in the 1980s. Covert Harassment actually dates back to the East German government in the 1950s where the secret police, the Stasi, used a method they called Zersetzung. Zersetzung translates from German to English as “biodegradation”; sometimes it has been described as destroying the “soul” of the target.
The East Germans refined the techniques of covert harassment towards “anti-government dissidents” by means of surveillance, stalking, and harassment through covert operatives. The method found its way to the United States; with the most prominent early example of covert harassment being Nader v. General Motors – where General Motors was found to have employed private investigators to stalk, harass, and entrap Ralph Nader in order to deter him from writing “Unsafe at Any Speed” – a book exposing safety issues in General Motors vehicles. Unfortunately, since then, covert harassment has been adopted throughout, and its methods have only improved. It is a dangerous kind of “innovation” in criminal activity meant to stifle and degrade. Used on whistleblowers and journalists, it also finds its way to ordinary citizens who cross paths with a powerful individual, group, or corporation.
LiveFree is determined to raise the public’s awareness of this dangerous, predatory behavior and to work with legislators to bring it to a halt. Weinstein was only the tip of the iceberg.
LiveFree has spoken about the need for action with California state senators, assemblymen, and city councils and will continue to do so. Some examples below.
In this video, co-founder Bob Chandra presents the topic of organized stalking to California State Senator Jerry Hill at a community event. Following this interaction, LiveFree met with Sen. Hill’s offices to discuss proposed legislation.
In this video, we proposed a resolution outlawing covert harassment to the San Bruno City Council.
Live Free is engaging legislators and communities to take action that will make covert harassment harder and harder to implement; to ensure when it is practiced, the perpetrators are caught and held to account.