One cannot deny that movements around the world are being shaped by the use of technology.
Do you realize how many activists put their lives on the line using social media and technology to point out the injustices of Governments and Corporations around the world? And the fact that giant technology corporations (such as Microsoft) are in cahoots with certain Governments around the world in order to weed out the outspoken? (WikiLeaks?)
So the story goes (and I cannot name names) A feminist activist making strides in attempting to abolish the injustices of women and girls in Burma, putting her life on the line daily and being watched by the government, comes to the Bay Area. She comes to the Bay Area to present the work she’s doing on the ground there in Burma and to gather support here in the states. Feminist activist happens to connect with techie geek who believes in privacy and does not trust huge tech corps and certain foreign governments. She uses her gmail account to send a message. Techie traces the route of her message. Sure enough – her message goes directly to China – before it reaches the destination. Believable? yes. I wouldn’t doubt each one of us (CIO core group) are being monitored due to the nature of information being shared on this blog/site.
This is where EFF comes in.
After a discussion about Feminism and Technology with my colleagues over at the Global Fund for Women and Kelly over at EFF, I’ve come to realize the importance of their work. They have been pioneers in creating policy around protecting activists that use technology (social media and MORE) to deliver information about social injustices around the world. They practice great politics within their organization – OPEN SOURCE ALL THE WAY and they make it a point to make sure huge corporations (such as Microsoft) and controlling governments (such as China) do not take over the communication waves in order to suppress voices of people being oppressed all over the world.
Not only are they protecting us with policy, they join forces with great software engineers to help develop tools that creates encryption and helps protect your voice through the world wide web. As a matter of fact we were discussing the TOR Project - which I wouldn’t doubt the folks over in Egypt used to help with the Revolution. What the TOR project does is sets up anonymity when information is being transmitted through the world wide web, hence making it difficult for governments to trace the source of the information shared.
How this works is: 1) an activist on the frontlines records information on militia beating up civilian and sends via tweeting, blogging or otherwise 2) the message is sent 3) but in the background and while the government is attempting to figure out whose mobile device sent the information (for major prosecution) TOR project scrabbles up the trace and it appears the message came from somewhere else. What’s happening is that the message is sent – transported to a server in Argentina, then to somewhere in Germany then out……..genius and livesaving! (don’t quote me on the countries though) – but you get the gist of anonymity. You should also check out their plugin they developed to use with Firefox called HTTPS Everywhere (which secures certain sites your surf to).
Rather than get into the geek talk about Open Source, Encryption and Privacy, I’d like to recommend everyone to look into the work this organization is doing – and if you’ve got a few cents to spare donate.
EFF will help keep our voices, our beliefs and our rights OURS using the www – especially in these times where our voices are being suppressed.