Digital Security (DS) Program

Digital Security (DS) Program2018-10-05T22:32:16+00:00

“Assert your rights—we’ve got your back.” For 15 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 require a sometimes 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.

GPG email encryption guides

October 29th, 2017|Resources, Security|

Security update (06/14/2018) — PGP/GPG email encryption security issues have now been fixed — please update to Thunderbird 52.8.0+ and Enigmail 2.0.7+ (for those using Apple Mail, please update to GPGTools 2018.3)

Because the confidentiality of your encrypted email relies also on others’ settings, for maximum safety until this flaw […]

Signal: Activist Best Practices

September 6th, 2017|Security|

Signal isn’t perfect and we’re not certain it’s designed with activists in mind–for instance, you and your friends can’t use it without all using real phone numbers. But still, Signal takes almost zero time or training and equips activists with 5-star end-to-end text, voice and video encryption with an […]

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Google and Facebook give your data to cops

By |December 7th, 2017|

We dislike G**gle and F*c*book.  Here is one reason.

Every year, Google and Facebook hand over data from roughly one hundred thousand user accounts to law enforcement and other requesters.  Many of these requests come in the form of subpoenas, which do not require probable cause, can originate out of criminal […]

Passwords: Best practices

By |December 4th, 2017|

If you do nothing else, use a password manager (keepassxc.org, lastpass.com, 1password.com) that is protected by a strong password — here’s a checklist and a zine to help you make one.

At a minimum, we recommend:

  • Using a different password for every account or login, so that if one account […]

Introduction to Digital Security for Activists (Training Slides)

By |October 20th, 2017|

Activists who do not encrypt their communications put themselves and others at risk of surveillance. Encryption is more important than ever, but also much easier to use than it once was.  We will give an overview of state-of-the-art secure communications tools, discuss trade-offs and considerations in choosing the right tools […]

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What happens to deleted emails?

By |August 7th, 2017|

In response to a question to the Digital Security for Activists program:

How secure is it to delete email and other internet documents? Who owns the deletions– the email provider, the ISP, the owner of the server/hardware? The person/entity who wrote it? The person/entity who received it?

After deleting an email, you […]

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