I work in an office building where the Charles Koch Institute has its office. On Friday, April 6, a nearby sandwich shop had a food giveaway in the lobby of our building to promote its catering business. While I was in the lobby, I noticed several Koch Institute staffers hanging around waiting for a free lunch. As a political activist, this struck me as being both funny and ironic, so I snapped a photo of the guys and tweeted it with the caption "Bunch of guys from Charles Koch institute waiting for free food in my office bldg lobby. Oh the irony. #tcot #p2"
I didn't think about it after that. So far as I know, no one retweeted it. This morning, Monday April 9, I found the following below email in my work in box. Keep in mind that I never gave my name to the guys in the lobby. I chatted with them briefly about the mission of the Koch Institute, and asked if it wasn't rather socialist of them to be lining up for free food. They may have read my employer ID badge, which I usually wear around my neck, but I can't recall which way it was facing or even if I was wearing it around my neck at the moment. Also keep in mind that I tweet under the name "SatirclAlx," which is short for "Satirical Alexandria." (I am Democratic activist from Alexandria, VA.) Read my email exchange with the Koch Institute's general counsel to see the lengths these guys will go to in order to squelch dissent and ridicule.
From: Kwedar, Martin [mailto:Martin.Kwedar@kochps.com]
Sent: Friday, April 06, 2012 4:44 PM
To: XXXX XXXXX
Cc: Menkes, Brian
Subject: Pictures Posted - Please Follow Up
Ms. XXXXXXX, It’s come to our attention that you took pictures of our employees without their consent and posted them online (https://twitter.com/... http://lockerz.com/...) at approximately 12:07 P.M. today. The pictures were not taken in a public place and we ask that you immediately remove them for safety and other reasons. Please call me to discuss.
Charles Koch Institute
And here is my response...
I forwarded your email to my personal account and I respectfully asked that you never contact me through my work account again and I demand to know how you obtained my name and work email. That is not public information.
Your reference a photo taken by myself on Friday at 1515 N. Courthouse Road in Arlington, VA, home of the Charles Koch Institute, among other business. I deleted the tweet itself, which attached the picture you reference of employees of the Charles Koch Institute, purely as a "good neighbor" courtesy. I strongly dispute that the photo was “not taken in a public place.” This office building has an unlocked door (several in fact) and a lobby completely open to the public during normal business hours, in addition to a public parking garage. Your employees were in the lobby of the building among a crowd of people obtaining free food courtesy of the Corner Bakery, which was holding a marketing event for their catering business that was advertised to all in the building through placement of a small poster. The Corner Bakery was also handing out menus. This was a marketing event in a building lobby into which anyone could just walk off the street. The persons on the photo were not identified by name. Indeed, I do not know their names, but you clearly know mine and I would like to know how. I did not identify myself by name to your employees. In addition, how were you made aware of the tweet and the photo itself? The only possible explanation is the that Charles Koch Institute scans the internet for references to itself and then tries to police those references they deem to be unflattering, and does so constantly and quickly. As you note the photo was taken at 12:07 P.M., and later that same afternoon, you emailed me about it. That was fast. After scanning the internet and finding the reference on twitter, you obviously investigated me because my twitter name is clearly a pseudonym. I assume that somewhere in between all that hard work, some Koch Brothers internet tracker ran to you, their lawyer. I would very much like to hear from him or her at this email address. I want a fully explanation of how Charles Koch tracked my tweets and my name. I want to know this "for safety and other reasons."
I await your response.
1:22 PM PT: As noted below, several people from the Koch Insititute looked me up on LinkedIn, along with some anonymous security specialist checking me out. I talked to the building manager, who said there is no written policy about photograghs in public spaces, but The Koch Institute did call her and ask her to impose a policy because, according to her, they don't want people to know where their office is.
Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 7:59 AM PT: And more updates...
Note: I removed the tweet for a variety of reasons. To be a good neighbor and not cause problems for my employer and co-workers, because the guys in the photo are low level employees who probably have sucky jobs and don't need the hassle from The Charles Koch institute, and mostly because I'm choosing my battles here. The pic has probably been captured by others, and it's still on my phone, but that's not the issue for me. The issue is Charles Koch's attempts to police the web. I'd rather remove the pic and be above any criticism related to posting it so that I can focus on the bigger issue. Here's the latest email I received by Chucky Koch's attorney, and my response...
>>Kwedar, Martin A firstname.lastname@example.org
6:49 PM (16 hours ago)
Ms. XXXXX, Thank you for removing the picture you posted on Twitter. Please also remove the picture posted on lockerz.com which can be found here: http://lockerz.com/.... We also please ask that you not publicly post or display the picture(s) elsewhere and that you refrain from taking pictures/videos of our employees on work premises at any time in the future. Please respect their privacy. While you may not appreciate it, we and others associated with Koch have been subjected to threats and attacks over the past few years, and we wish to provide our employees with a secure and safe working environment, free from harassment and intimidation. We have spoken with Courthouse Tower building management to understand building rules and they have informed us that your actions violated building rules and policies to which each tenant, including your employer, has agreed. Building management will be happy to discuss the rules with your employer if you wish. Thank you for your cooperation.
Charles Koch Institute
And my response:
I also spoke with buidling management. The building manager and assistant building manager advised me that there is no prohibition against taking photographs in the public spaces. They advised me that the lease contains a general clause asking tenants to respect privacy, but there is nothing about photographs mentioned in the lease and the clause is very general in scope. I am not a party to said lease and have not seen it myself. I signed no agreement with my employer or anyone else regarding photography in the public areas. That being said, I will not photogragh your employees in the future if you agree to reveal to me the means by which you obtained my identity and email, and advise your employees not to stalk me on LinkedIn or elsewhere. I, too, have been subjected to harassment based on my political opinions. I also demand to know the name of the investigator you hired to obtain information about me and the exact nature and detail of said investigation.
I am not sure how to remove photos from Lockerz as I am unfamiliar with the service but I will check the page on which the photo is protrayed and see if I can remove it. I thought that the deletion of the tweet would have the effect of removing the photo but apparently that is not the case.