Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Bloggers be wary! Cops phishing for venue info! (AKA Paranoid Time at Alienated in Vancouver)

Here's something kind of curious. Every few years, I receive emails from people claiming to be from out of town, who tell me they've read on my blog about underground venues for experimental music. They explain that they are coming to town for a limited time, and are wondering if I can help them out, with locations for good places to see noise and such - many of which operate off the grid in locations around East Vancouver.

Now, of course, I do get some legitimate emails from people about Vancouver music stuff they read on my blog. But not all requests for information seem plausible. There's been a fishy feel to a few of them - people whose behaviour did not mesh up with what they claimed they were. Forgive me if I don't go into details as to exactly "how" they were fishy - I don't want to give the writers of these emails tips as to how to manipulate bloggers more effectively -  but with the newest such request, I suddenly had a paranoid thought: could this possibly be a cop trying to ferret out the addresses of illegal spaces?

Thinking maybe I was overreacting, I wrote a few people involved in the noise scene about this and the two people who replied agreed that these emails were "definitely 5-0." One (thanks, E!) forwarded me the following article, about Boston Police "catfishing" people online to find addresses of off the grid venues... Suddenly I'm bristling with suspicion -  I'm pretty much sure that's exactly what's been going on.

Just a tip, then, for anyone with any involvement in the noise or experimental music scene: if you get online requests for addresses of off-the-grid venues, from people whom you don't know, consider the possibility that these are simply cops, trying to exploit social media to get information. Unless you have reason to believe they're legitimate, do NOT share addresses of spaces (or any information that could compromise the scene) with these people over the internet. If you're not sure whether the requests are legitimate, maybe you can direct them to a couple hip record stores where they might ask people what's what - where people can evaluate them face-to-face before sharing information. Or if they claim they're coming to town in person, invite them to meet up with you.

Do that, and I bet they won't even write back.

I would now like to dedicate this Crucifucks song (with Steve Shelley on drums!) to the cops in question, if, indeed, it's cops that have been writing me. No hard feelings, cops, but - aren't there bigger evils in this city to fight then kids getting together to peaceably listen to unpopular music? Are they really THAT much of a threat to the status quo?

1 comment:

Allan MacInnis said...

Incidentally, the dude wrote back and I'm now pretty much convinced he's real, so this WAS just a paranoid moment. But better safe than sorry and all...