EFF: Project Update #5


Over the past two weeks, we have signed our working agreement, met with Jillian to go over some ideas and wireframes, and been introduced to two new EFF members, Hugh from the design team (designed the logo above) and Mark from the tech team.

During our meeting with Jillian, we showed her two mockups of the SSD site, one for the homepage and one for a content module. We also discussed our ideas for making the content more interactive and bite-sized such as Prezis or Buzzfeed-style articles. Since the content needs to be available in many different languages, we have to keep in mind how to make these content bits easily translatable. Jillian also sent us the module list, so we are beginning to organize the modules for the site’s navigation bar.

Jillian also introduced us to Hugh (design) and Mark (tech). Mark has added us to the github repository for the working version of the SSD site, so we will begin exploring what they have implemented and how to work from there.

We will be meeting with Jillian, Eva, Mark, and Becky on Monday (3/31) to go over the more technical aspects of the site and to plan out an implementation schedule.

We will show the class our wireframes and example interactive modules on Wednesday during the project presentations.

– Paulina & Wei-Wei

Posted in EFF

Tor and Transition House

Surveillance, how it pertains to us personally if you’re in a relationship.

These notes were co-taken in class, and I think they were awesome enough to merit posting to the class blog.


– Sarah Cortes – a board member of Transition House, Tor researcher,  and a PhD candidate working on anonymous  networks.

– Andrew Lewman – a board member and executive director of the Tor Project, domestic violence advocate

Background Reading

Coercive control – 18 page summary

Tone and Terms

Domestic Violence. Violence is not the identifying factor of the problem. More of a myth and misconception that prevents people from understanding the underlying issue. Now it’s intimate partner abuse. Domestic is family – could be among many family members. Intimate partner abuse is just between intimate partners. Abuse means not just physical but also emotional, psychological, financial abuse, children. Many forms. Important to understand the terms we use.

Surveillance of government and partner abuse. Same concepts apply to both situations. One of the concepts in intimate partner abuse in the Western world is that intimate abuse is about a desire for control, due to an attitude of entitlement. Power and control. Similarly, a government’s surveillance is out of a desire for control and an a feeling of entitlement over citizens.


Entitlement in different societies, what are things you’re familiar with?

  • Class systems in cultures are based on cultures of entitlement
    • The US supposedly has no class system. But we do, we just don’t talk about it. What are these based on? Money and power. Point oh oh one percent is the concentration of wealth and power. Entitlement and the class system are about being sorted by wealth. Different entitlements and things.
    • Ethnicity and Caste. – Sri Lanka. We say we don’t have a caste-based system, but it feeds into how our class-based system are caste-based. Some are “more equal than others.”
  • Entities as … this is being drawn.

In intimate partner relationships.

If you think of them as their relative worth and needs and wants; if you think they have same relative worth and equal representation of needs and wants. In an abusive relationship, abusers feel their needs and wants and relative worth as significantly more prominent than their partner.

Abusers are people who have an attitude of entitlement over their partners.  We see this same entitlement in class based systems, for example, the US class system.

We tend to magnify the opinions of wealthy people and denigrate the opinions of less wealthy.

In companies – there are different cultures. Entitlement is based on performance or different classes of people depending on a hierarchy.

In Japan, another example is seniority.

In England or the UK – they have a class-based system based on nobility and a peasant class.

Another concept that is important to understand is a lot of misconceptions.

That abuse is caused by alcoholism, drugs, that people who commit physical violence belong to a different category of abusers. That’s not actually true. One concept of abusers is that there is a continuum of abuse. There is a continuum of abuse – physical abuse on the far end and sexual abuse on the other with emotional, financial to academic, etc.

Continuum of Abuse

Abusers feel the need to exercise control over their abusers. They employ tactics, whatever works. Typically, they start out with a small tactic, and eventually destroy the self-esteem of the group who is being oppressed. Initially the person who is being abused doesn’t understand what is happening. In most situations, eventually, the victim will start to fight back. At that point, the abuser will step up to a new strategy, abusing children, financial abuse.

Eventually, a cycle ensues in which the victim steps up and fights back until the abuser is committing physical and sexual violence.

Often we see there is a pattern of abuse and other people, neighbors, bystanders will have noticed.

Let’s turn to governments and surveillance. The same value system will apply — certain groups are targeted nad denigrated.

Certain groups are denigrated and entitled groups feel entitled to surveillance. Surveillance starts out small but then takes smaller steps to include more groups.

Nushelle: If you have a system with a very vocal civil society – what happens?

We say we’re in a state of undemocratic democracy. (didn’t hear the rest…). If people fight back, step up, where there be higher levels of surveillance?

Manipulation and Excuse Making

Abusers in all forms make use of both of these

– 1945 (corporate interests, those who wanted to be reelected)

Civilians heard a different story: American fighting for democrac

Vietnam War, gulf of Tonkin Incident: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulf_of_Tonkin_incident

Naval vessels came under attack from the North Vietnamese (FOIA reports later found that the second supposed attack, evidence was completely fabricated) to incite the public to support the war effort, escalating incidents but aren’t immediately clear. The idea is to divert people’s attention from what is really going on.

What is the cure/remedy

Due to attitudes and beliefs (women have less value, have certain characteristics), there is a belief then that that power and control has to be exercised over them, that other people have to continually to keep them under control.

The antidote is to change attitudes. courts started to

When governments perform surveillance – no one considers that it’s due to drug abuse or mental illness. It’s about belief in the inequality of those citizens.

Question and Answer

Question for those who have worked in domestic abuse in the past, is this type of training the same type of information you were given before? Or in sex ed class?

  •  A: Yes, we did talk about Imbalances of power, and attitudes and beliefs.
  • A: Ideas deal with breaking cycles of abuse?

Q: What happens when people step up to new levels?

  • A: If there’s no change in the attitude of entitlement, than abusers will continue to step up their tactics which is why abuse sometimes end in murder. It’s the ultimate expression of control over another.

In governments we find a continual escalation. Eventually this sometimes leads to abused communities fighting back. But the abuser can never accept that the victim is actually being victimized. The response is seen as an encroachment on their own entitlement. The response is seen as an attack. So whether it’s governments, or abusive partners, it will continue sadly to escalate if it’s not checked.

How does this apply to this class?

In the same way we see things such as physical abuse more noticeable as emotional and psychological abuse, we see an act of physical violence as a tangible line which we can respond. In the same way, with surveillance it has been a slow escalation but now there are new revelations about the extent of surveillance.

U.S. has different capabilities. US has been swallowing not only metadata but all phone comms; with potential to do so in 6-7 countries.  MYSTIC, revealed today in the Washington Post, from Edward Snowden’s leaked documents: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/nsa-surveillance-program-reaches-into-the-past-to-retrieve-replay-phone-calls/2014/03/18/226d2646-ade9-11e3-a49e-76adc9210f19_story.html

Do we all believe that the US is collecting metadata on all communications in one country?

People think it’s possible but not sure it’s happening. Afghanistan, Pakistan are listed as possibilities.

But this news is met with ho-hum because people don’t see how it applies to them.

On slowly boiling frogs: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boiling_frog

Passing around book: Why Do They Kill


Where Does This Start?

Victims have no characteristics in common.

Targets of government system are pretty overt from race to class

Blaming the victim applies both to domestic abuse, and state surveillance: people assume ’they must have done something wrong.’

Children of abusers –  you learn power and control from watching the dynamics of your parents, foster care, schooling, whatever, where there is a vast power dynamic between you and the people in your life. Origin of the attitude of entitlement.

Research has found this: children feel pity and sorrow for the victim, but side with the abuser because that’s who has the power and can take on the attitudes of that.

Father to son characteristics. If the father is an abuser – the son is more likely to be an abuser. If the whole society doesn’t respect women, you don’t need this direct tie.

What if both parties want power? Same sex relationships have the same incidence of abuse – so it’s not just men who have a desire for control.

Cambridge is interesting because it’s where the oldest houses are. And the oldest intervention program.

It was called the Batterer Intervention Program.

Why should we stop cyber stalking and immediate manifestation if you don’t attack the fundamental underlying reasons for it. Research that helps victims understand why their stalkers know where they are at all times rather than seeing them as an all powerful person.

Men will often select women because of their apparent inability to respond. So tech savvy male abusers are likely to capitalize on our society’s inclination towards women not being tech savvy. The abused often see their abusers as all-powerful. So teaching them about tech teaches them that they’re not all-powerful.

This is the same premise as why DiscoTechs are powerful and useful.

Mexico City DiscoTech

This post was written by Mariel of SocialTIC. Thanks, Mariel, for all the awesome work and the follow-up!

The 2012 elections brought political change in Mexico, and it hasn’t been positive in terms of State surveillance. At a time when threats to journalists and human rights defenders continue to increase, several reforms have been pushed in the federal and local congresses to make surveillance of private communications fair game. Behind legalese and political discussions that are anything but transparent, most citizens don’t realize what’s happening.

This is why action is necessary in Mexico: we need to raise awareness on the state of surveillance. And the Surveillance DiscoTech was a step in the right direction.

The DiscoTech in Mexico City began with a workshop on digital security focused on the basic ways individuals can protect their information (or at least make surveillance a much more difficult pursuit). All the participants had the chance to test email and chat clients that enable encryption, and learn the basics about digital security.

After the tech basics were covered, it was time to talk about the changing legal landscape, and about the surveillance projects that rarely make the local media. Luis Fernando García, human rights lawyer that works on freedom of expression and digital rights, talked about the current legislation. Despite the fact that private communications are, in theory, protected by law, government agencies have intervened more and more repeatedly since 2009. Last year, 700 interventions were carried out; this year, we are at 12000 already.

Congresses are passing a lot of reforms that force telecom companies to retain data indefinitely, that grant government offices access to anyone’s communications without a judiciary order, and that justify surveillance by claiming it’s all done in the best interest of those at risk (like human trafficking victims). These modified laws seem to have no checks and balances. The surveillance possibilities that are being granted by law are highly invasive, secret, and will certainly make a lot of money for a few companies.

Jesús Robles Maloof, human rights defender and lawyer, talked about the surveillance projects that rarely make the news: for example, FinFisher, a malware found in Mexican computers and that is believed to have been bought by an agency in the Mexican government. He also posed questions that, after a day of tech training, left all of us with food for thought: should we keep trying to race against the government by becoming better at using technology, or, in fact, is it a race we will lose? Should we focus instead on the main problem, which is to eradicate State surveillance?

Click CC for translation captions
Sasha Costanza-Chock also joined this discussion to talk about his research and the reasons why this DiscoTech was organized and then celebrated in different locations.

The Mexico City DiscoTech saw hands-on learning and discussion among people who are targeted by surveillance. One of the closing remarks came from a human rights defender who decided to share her conclusions on the DiscoTech: having learned about different aspects of surveillance, she would walk away aware of the need to be more mindful of how she uses technologies, no matter what they are or what she’s doing with them.

In our opinion, mission accomplished.

SocialTIC is a non-profit organization that works to promote the use of ICTs for social change in Mexico and Latin America. We work on information-based activism, digital security and data analysis with NGOs, human rights defenders, journalists, local groups and engaged citizens. You can follow us on Twitter.

DWN: Update

Bex and Aditi helped us facilitate a Design Canidate Brainstorm with our project partner last Monday morning. It was a really productive session. Everyone shared at least 1 project idea and they are all documented in this google doc.

We will be meeting up on Sunday, March 23rd at ITP to finalize our idea so that we can begin prototyping our project. At that time, we will also work on our presentations and finish up our working agreement.

Side note: If by chance you’ll be in New York from March 20 – 23, What I Learned from a Decade of Fear is a must see show at La Mama Theater. It explores how incriminating an average life is. They use security technology as a storytelling medium.

SoMove: Update #4

This past week we continued to heavily discuss what kind of content to include on our website.  Puck provided us documents with specific events of infiltration – these are the stories we thought we would focus on towards the beginning of CoDesign.  However, after looking at the different personas of users and our timeline, we decided we wanted to make the interface more interactive than a display of information.

We’d like people to be able to submit their own stories online, and we want to be able to display those stories in an accessible way.  We are thinking of having people tag their stories with certain key words that will allow us to categorize events by date, location, target group, infiltrator, and so on.  Also, stories do not have to be just text based – people can submit audio files, videos, or other forms of media as well.

We are currently finalizing a timeline for all of our plans and completing our proposal and working agreement.  Next on the todo list is coming up with creative layouts for the interactive site, and then hopefully choosing the best elements to stick with.

San Francisco Hackathon/DiscoTech (+ RightsCon + Responsible Data Forum)

Has it already been two weeks? Holy wow.

I’ll be aggregating the summaries from the Countersurveillance DiscoTechs across the world over the next week. This first one is easy enough, because I was there! This post shamelessly yoinked from my own blog, with mild adaptations.

Countersurveillance DiscoTechs

With the Codesign Studio I TA with the Media Lab, a series of Discovery Technology (DiscoTech) Workshops were put on. The ones in Bangalore, Ramallah, Mexico City, Boston, and San Francisco were all inspiring. You can see more about the projects, art, and progress over on our hackpad. Some examples were stories from Venezuelan activists, face painting to deter facial recognition (so hard!), long-time surveillance on poor communities in America, and spoofing DNA.

And seriously. Take a few minutes to go through the partner pages for this. Need a bit of morning outrage? Think everything’s going pretty ok in the world? Nope!

UI/UX for Crypto Tools Hackathon

The second usability hackathon with OpenITP went incredibly well, and repped as the San Francisco DiscoTech as well as its own thing.

The number of projects worked on is impressive, to say the least. You can read more about the objectives of the sprint and what was accomplished via the associated links.

Guardian Project: Bazaar and InformaCam

The Guardian Project creates easy-to-use open source apps, mobile OS security enhancements, and customized mobile devices for people around the world to help them communicate more freely, and protect themselves from intrusion and monitoring.

Commotion Wireless 

Commotion is an open-source communication toolkit that uses mobile phones, computers, and other wireless devices such as  routers to make it possible for communities to set up  decentralized mesh networks and share local services. Deployed already in a handful of U.S. cities and internationally, it is a key tool for internet freedom, providing alternatives where surveillance and censorship compromise traditional infrastructure.


Martus is a secure and open-source human rights documentation system used by human rights initiatives to document and preserve evidence and testimonies of human rights violations.


StoryMaker is an open source app for making and publishing multimedia stories with any Android phone or device, as safely and securely as possible. It provides an interactive storytelling training guide, walkthroughs, and templates for users to follow as they plan their story and capture media. The app then helps assemble the content into a finished format that can be shared directly with social media or anywhere– no computer editing station required, even for video!


Lantern is a network of people working together to defeat internet censorship around the world. Install and share Lantern, our new peer-to-peer censorship circumvention software, to give or get access to people in places where access is censored

The Serval Project 

Serval is a telecommunications system comprised of at least two mobile phones that are able to work outside of regular mobile phone tower range due thanks to the Serval App and Serval Mesh.


ChatSecure is a free and open source encrypted chat client for iPhone and Android that supports OTR encryption over XMPP. ChatSecure was originally available for only iOS devices, but is now also available on Android via The Guardian Project’s similar app, formerly named Gibberbot.

Open Whisper Systems

Whisper Systems produces simple and easy-to-use tools for secure mobile communication and secure mobile storage. Their products include RedPhone and TextSecure, which allow encrypted VoIP phone and text (SMS) communication between users

People’s Intelligence

People’s Intelligence is an award winning idea that makes use of USSD, SMS and voice to establish a conversation with victims and witnesses of mass atrocities. The envisaged tool helps victims and witnesses to better document and verify their stories and provides them as well as relevant organisations with actionable information, thereby facilitating early warning and targeted assistance. It supports analysis and allows networking between affected communities, relevant organisations and experts through the use of ubiquitous technologies.


Mailvelope allows individuals to encrypt and decrypt email in their favorite webmail provider following the OpenPGP standard. This includes, among others, Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook.com, and GMX. It integrates directly into the webmail user interface; its elements are non-intrusive and easy to use in a user’s regular workflow.


It was really nice to completely surrounded by the people I usually see when we all jam into the one or two sessions at any tech or policy event which involve both. But that overlap was the whole conference, so we were able to dive in much deeper, see more nuance, and see next steps. I learned about funder motives, and the initiatives which backed tech in atrocity prevention/detection/accountability, and about many many tools used to amplify the voices of marginalized people. I drew a lot, and I hugged even more.


Full set on bl00viz.

Typed Notes!

I typed notes for two interactive sessions for sake of formatting. One was a review of the the UI/UX hackathon the weekend before, the other was stories from the field and suggestions for how to be better trainers. Those can be found over on the Civic blog.

Responsible Data Forum

Thursday I trekked out to Oakland to participate in Engine Room‘s Responsible Data Forum, as hosted by the inspirational Aspiration Tech. Again, I was spoiled by being surrounded by an impressively diverse set of people interested in the same fulcrum of concern and change. We skeletoned out plans for checklists before collecting data, and workflows that include project death, and illustrated how data moves through a company. We talked hosting and coercion resistant design and informed consent. We also talked about context-based privacy in disasters. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes of the day.

ACLU + The Guardian Project update

This week we have come up with a name for our project, calling it Spidey.  This stems from Spiderman’s sixth sense that alerts him when danger is imminent.  Moreover, it highlights the telecomm network as a web of signals and routes that our phones and communication signals are caught up in.

We have completed and (mostly) signed our project proposal and working agreement.  Additionally, we’re meeting in person later this week to finalize everything before break and layout goals and deadlines for project work.

Finally, Nathan set up our project tracker on The Guardian Project’s project tracker.  They use it to build all of their apps, so it makes sense to use this workflow.  Once we are ready we will also put in milestones, features tickets, etc. and link in our source code repo, tie into our build server, etc so they are tracked as part of the open-source project.

EFF: Project Update #4

This past week, we met up with Eva. Going over the threat model workshop and the personae together really helped us to understand what kinds of people might access the website. We also discussed the “Being an Ally” component of the site, as well as how someone might want to access the site (ie. what are they looking for? Why would they use this site? How will they navigate through it? What are the specific countersurveillance measures certain people might need?)
Moving forward, we’ve started to think really critically about how to visualize all of the complicated text in smaller, more interactive pieces, and we’ve also started wireframing a few things and talking through our design likes/dislikes (we’re anti-carousels, but they may be our best option?). We’ll be meeting with Jillian this week, so we should have some visuals to share soon.
Our Working Agreement is here.
– Paulina & Wei-Wei
Posted in EFF

UYC: Project Update 4

On Tuesday, March 11, we had a Google hangout with Yorman and Maria. We settled on Thursday at 4pm as our weekly check-in time.  We discussed the exercise on shared values and user stories, as well as a preliminary conversation about the User Agreement. Yorman and Maria talked more in depth about their needs for the project. In terms of users, they are most keen to reach policy-makers and the press. They hope that the information gathered will serve as a useful body of evidence backing UYC’s policy recommendations.
We will also have a video chat with student representatives on Tuesday, March 18, at 5pm, and will be facilitating a workshop on brainstorming potential design candidates. Before the meeting, we’ll be ‘meeting’ with Bex, who will give us some pointers and guides for facilitating.
We checked in with Yorman briefly on Friday about the User Agreement and the meeting with student reps on Tuesday. We discussed the collection and analysis of data at a granular level (e.g. how long students were waiting in line, etc). He also gave us more information about expected outcomes of the project (he has updated the User Agreement accordingly), and how students deal with having their phones taken away for the day (keeping them at a bodega or truck for a dollar a day). We discussed the design candidates, and the potential for a trusted information station as specific schools.
We also sat in on a CURE project meeting last Monday night, which gave us some ideas about getting help from community members (e.g. Terry Marshall from IntelligentMischief). It was also very helpful to learn more about their meeting facilitation and design processes.

SoMove, Update #3

This week, we met with our organization again to present the persona’s we had created after class last week. Our organization’s lead contact Puck had some input and we defined assignments to find people who would be in the persona categories of “activist,” “affected,” “general user”.  Lot of ideas related to the design of the site were shared in the meeting.  Puck had questions surrounding what specific kinds of CoDesign users there might be in the process as well as the possibility of making a booth for recording/page for recording.  We decided that if possible, we want the site to be interactive, and not just a display of stories.  For affected users, it would be best if there were ways for people to share their own stories alongside those we’ve already posted, and for activists, it would be great to have a plan of where to go next and who to contact, instead of just a list of other organizations and sites.

We also started drafting the working agreement. We will work this week before class to work on a final draft of the MOU.  We will be working to come up with contract, goals and what is generally expected to be the outcome of this project.  We will focus on  how to use the budget, defining a manageable scope; and waiting for print information.  We will need this to figure out how to design the site and capture stories and recorded info.  The SoMove tour starts mid-april. In our planned meeting this week is we hope to get some feedback on our user stories and also some input on the working agreement. We will continuously work on the working agreement through this week.