Premier Event Recap!

“We are all already cyborgs. Welcome to the future. It has been this way for 3 million years.”


The 12/10 workshop has now come and gone, and its time for a brief recap.  In the interest of the privacy of all participants only a broad curriculum will be outlined here and only scheduled speakers (as opposed to other participants and group discussants) will be identified by (first) name.

Shahid began by guiding participants through an exercise where they articulated the threats they believed they faced and what measures they could take to defend themselves.  It is worth remembering that cybersecurity is for EVERYONE and all participants had different parts of their lives that they wished to ensure the privacy of and different audiences (adversaries) they feared would be intruding on their privacy.  Personal data, research data, dating profiles, bank account info, everyone had something they wished to protect.  In truth the need for privacy goes beyond Edward Snowden’s famous quote: “Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.”  The truth of the matter is that everyone has some piece of information about themselves that is better not being made public (even if it is just banking details and social security number) and there is always the possibility that any security exploit or backdoor built for the purposes of surveillance could be exploited as easily by hackers or malicious non-state actors.  The concept of scale and herd immunity were also discussed.  Encrypting as many messages as possible makes it hard to tell which messages contain private info and thus reduce the chance of sensitive information being successfully identified, intercepted and decrypted.

This was followed by Devin who gave some brief remarks over lunch on the importance of the digital world to anthropologists and his own work among communities who largely assemble themselves and communicate over the internet.  He closed with a discussion of ethics in researching people on online fora.

Jeff was the third speaker, guiding the participants through a brief summary of recent and pending legislation and the current legal status of domestic digital surveillance.  Details of ongoing controversies and pending legislation as well as suggestions for how to get involved in issues that pertain to you can be found at The X Lab and The Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Following Jeff, Shahid took the floor again to guide the participants through the installation and use of a number of apps and programs that allow for increased privacy.  A vibrant discussion followed regarding the advantages and disadvantages of various programs and the way that each one met the needs of various participants and their own personal threat profiles.  A simple syllabus for self defense can be found at this link.  For a more detailed raining be sure to come to our next event (TBA).

Tim gave closing remarks introducing the participants to the mission and perspectives of Citizens of a Digital Republic.  While outlined in more detail in the (pinned) first post of this blog the gist was that human rights must include rights in the technological realm and rights to free association and socialization as without our technologies and social networks we cannot truly be human: “We are all already cyborgs. Welcome to the future. It has been this way for 3 million years.”  Participants were encouraged to remember the degree to which their expression of self extended into the symbolic and digital worlds around them and to be mindful of their digital footprints and to speak out in defense of their digital rights.

CDR anticipates that its next public workshop will be held in early January 2017.  Keep an eye on this blog for updates.