Digital Security for Activists

PIELC2017 Digital Security Resources:

“Assert your rights—we’ve got your back.” For 14 years, CLDC has defended activists’ constitutional rights in the courts and – through our Dissent & Democracy trainings – in the streets. And while our core mission to provide activist legal education and support remains important as ever, our world is very different from the one fought for up to the 1990s by forest defenders and human and non-human animal liberation activists.

Activist groups today are equipped with widespread and affordable digital cameras, satellite navigation, and instantaneous global communications and social networking. These technologies provide significant organizing advantages. At the same time, State and corporate opponents will turn these complex tools against activists, enabling systematic surveillance and sophisticated infiltration and disruption.

In a world where millions of digital communications are silently intercepted, collected, and stored every day, how do activists effectively say “I do not consent to this search?” As in a physical encounter with law enforcement, we must be proactive.  Online, this means using encryption along with other privacy-protecting and autonomy-preserving tools

Our choice of tools is of vital importance—corporate digital infrastructure that may be convenient to use can be relied upon to snitch on anyone accused of making trouble for racist, neocolonial and patriarchal government agencies and exploitative or toxic industries.

Community-driven, trustworthy, and proven digital security tools exist, but can sometimes require a steep learning curve. Also, all technologies have certain limitations. Knowing exactly what these are is crucial to using them safely and effectively. Finally, technology changes faster than the law. New backdoors and security flaws are discovered by researchers—or leaked to journalists by inside dissenters—every week.

CLDC is committed to educating our activist communities on the tools that can be used with confidence by dissident organizers to resist surveillance and remain free to take action. We’ll post updated recommendations for different levels of risk and tolerance for complexity.

On our security blog, we will document surveillance tactics as they are exposed by journalists, security researchers, and Freedom of Information Act requests, and provide activists with regular updates on surveillance methods.

Through trainings, workshops, and ongoing outreach to activist groups, radical online service providers, and privacy tech developers, we’ll help build resources to assist political movements in keeping their communications secure to empower grassroots organizing. This will include working with partners on platforms that can be rapidly deployed to protect communications within large, spontaneous movements.

Please contact us for comments, suggestions, or questions at and, as always, you can donate to support this work.

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