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I love technology.

And what I love about technology is that is allows you to do things that normally you The idea is that when we see refugees, or we face a war zone, we assume that the people leaving in it lose
are not able to do or that require lots of time and resources to be done manually. completely their ability to decide and to take autonomous decisions. If we see a refugee, even if he was
doctor before becoming a refugee, we assume that everything this person was able to do and influence
Of course, I am not so nave to think that technology by itself can solve all the problems of the old school when he was not a refugee is entirely replaced by the refugee identity.
paternalistic approach typical of humanitarian affairs: the approach is ultimately a matter of the people
and not of the tools. But there is a difference that technology can make. It is difficult to get away from this paternalistic perspective: a refugee is in our mind someone in need of
help, and as such, it is unable to decide by himself. For me the most interesting part of this concept is the
Now, there is something I am always amazed about when people come to me asking to use Ushahidi or idea of anarchy that we assume as being the political space that dominates conflict zones.
other tools to do crowd-sourcing or mapping project: the majority of the organizations chooses a tool and
then decides what they wanna use it for. Kind of an upside down approach hu? The funniest part is that When I talk to my friend Lily about this concept she explained to me the idea of the space of invisible.
you can have people coming to you telling you that they wanna use SMS to collect information in places This idea starts from the concept of political urbanism as applied to refugee camps, where the
where the literacy rate is 20%, or others that want to use e-mails surveys where there is no internet at all. organization of the urban space is completely different from the ones that happened outside. Cities and
urban spaces are organized by logical planned systems that assume the existence of rational persons
The second lesson is that people can communicate even without technology. Nobody is waiting for us living in it.
tech/humanitarian people to go there and help them communicating. In the entire world, from the small
village in Africa to the jungle in Cambodia people know how to communicate. They have their own system, Refugee Camps, by contrary, dont have a planned urban special organization, but are in this sense an
it may be slow, it may be very inefficient according to our standards, but it is there, and it is the system anarchist space: the organization of the space in the refugee camps is normally mostly decided and
that this people decide to use. And they didnt decide to use it because they are idiots, but because it is managed by the refugees themselves or by a body of unelected external subjects, the humanitarian
the best combination of their resources and their culture. It is the best for them because they are the ones workers.
that have the right to choose it.
If we overlap to this context the political layer, we can see the Refugee Camps as a political experiment of
Third lesson. When doing a crowd-sourcing project for whatever reason, electoral monitoring, anarchism, where the political structure is one of the most atypical ever. Refugee camps are in this
development, long term human rights violations monitoring, the most efficient flow of information is not perspective a completely autonomous and exceptional space where decision-making, space and urban
something up to you. The flow is there already, there is a path. Information moves in a country according structure are the result of the interactions between the humanitarian workers and the refugees.
to the context: it is like the flow of a river.
The space of invisible is here a political and an architectural concept: the refugee camps as an isolated
This is the way information moves in a country: it follows a path. So if you wanna understand how to space where the invisibles are relegated, in a vacuum where the political organization is completely
influence this path, if you want to put yourself into the information flow, for whatever reason (and it separated and autonomous from the one outside it.
better be a good one) you have to follow the same path. There is nothing to be invented, but just to be
found. It is all there already. Life doesnt stop during war, and identity doesnt disappear when you become a refugee. So why does it
citizenship and all the rights related to it? Why we want to protect refugees by depriving them of their
So, last final lesson I learned: shut up and listen. Everything is there, if we want to use the information rights as citizens, and by relegating them in the space of invisible? What is that those people represent to
and collect it, if we want to increase its efficiency, if we want to provide a tool to empower, there is nothing us that we dont want to see? And, most important, what will happen when the invisibles will come back
that we have to invent or discover. We only have to be able to listen and understand. After we have done to claim their rights? The fact that we dont wanna see doesnt means that things are not going on: we
it, then we can implement our technology in the best possible way: we just need to adapt it to the context. better watch out what is going on in the spaces where we relegate the invisibles, cause the consequences
Its all there, just follow the flow! of their political exception will not be so invisible!
There are different aspects of this project that according to me are particularly important when talking In May 2010 the Ushahidi blog posted an awesome post from Chris Blow which was highlighting the
about using new technologies in non-permissive environments for early warning systems: importance of working through a Ushahidi project by thinking that the tool is only 10% of your project.

1. The first one is that there is an adjunct value in having those systems managed entirely by the local
populations: people in the country know what can be done, where things will happen and what to expect
from the government and they trust themselves. It is not anymore a matter of responding; it is matter of
empowering local population to take actions according to their knowledge of the environment they work
in based on their existing social networks.

2. There is no new system that can work in those settings. New technologies dont necessarily mean
entirely new methodologies: the method used remain the same, the technology can just increase the
efficacy and reduce the effort by maximizing the results. I loved that blog post and still think it is a very actual problem not only with Ushahidi deployments
around the world, but in general with the increasing use of technology for development or human rights.
3. Technology doesnt delete conflicts, it brings it into another field: in Egypt right now there are Facebook
battles where activists attack the Facebook groups created by the govt by submerging their walls with I will highlight here some of those misconceptions:
messages until the group get closed because it becomes an arena of discussion for the opposition.
1. If it is free it is easy. There is an incredible growing development of free open source software that is
4. There is also another comparative advantage in using new technologies in repressive regime: every
free and available for everyone in the net, like FrontlineSMS, Ushahidi, Freedom Fone etc. The fact that
time the regime tries to limit the use of technologies, and most of the time they have the means to do it,
those tools are free makes organizations and individual that wants to use them think that they are easy
they are trapped into the fact that new technologies are not only used by the opposition but also by them
to communicate and to do propaganda of their own ideas. to use.

5. The authoritarian regimes have access to technology and use it, they learn from the opposition 2. Tech is difficult, non tech is easy. If you are not a tech person everything that is tech seems very obscure
movements how to use it and what to do with it. There is no safe way to use technology: if something is and difficult. I myself cannot get around a Ushahidi installation without swearing a lot, calling friends to
dangerous to be done without technology it will be dangerous the same in being done with the technology. help me, getting 100 errors and finally get it done after 8 hours of work.
The advantage in using technology is the threshold: organization efforts and results can be maximized,
so the risk being the same there is much more to gain with less effort. But organization and efforts must 3. The use of technology is an end in itself. Lots of people are getting increasingly excited with the use of
be there in the first place. technology. And with reasons: developing and poor countries as well as repressive regime are witnessing
the emergence of new phenomenon of digital activism that are changing the political and social landscape
6. Only the home made technology can be effective: early warning systems based on the use of and even if the debate on their efficacy or not is still going on, there is no doubt that those technologies
technologies can be effective only if they are based on the simple principle that the local population knows are having an effect.
how to manage them, where to implement them, and if they are the ones that thought of using those
means in the first place. The reason is that the technology may be working perfectly, but what will make this project successful is
if the use of this technology will lead to more awareness of the situation, to more people pushing their
governments in doing something, to more visibility on the issue in terms of public opinion and the
impossibility to say: I didnt know. Will this be achieved?
Another African country affected by war, hunger, poverty and corruption. Not quite. This is one of the When I look at information systems I think we are in front of the antithesis of the relativity theory. In my
worst I have even seen, even if I cannot say I have seen that many. But lets look at it a bit closer. work I find often myself in the situation in which people think that technology will solve everything or
that technology cannot solve nothing, independently form the starting point. My theory is that everything
Since its independence, the Central African Republic (CAR) has been plagued by crises associated with is relative and that what we really need when we work on information system is the ability to integrate
poor governance and conflict. It is one of the poorest countries in the world, ranking 159th out of 169 in systems as to be able to have an holistic approach that will allow to face all the different part so the same
the 2010 United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Human Development Index and scoring 3/3 on universe.
the Vulnerability Index of DG ECHO. Poverty is rife and exacerbated by corrupt and predatory state
institutions. A culture of political patronage and corruption undermines leaders accountability, and the This leads us to another important point: data is nothing if it is not communicated, which lead us to
exceptionally fragile government has almost no institutional capacity to deliver services. most especially information. Information is nothing if it cannot be connected which leads us to intelligence. The way from
for the 84% of the population living outside the capital. Almost half of the country is out of control of the information to intelligence is analysis.
government and in the hands of rebel groups. Almost no one knows what is going on there.
How will the information arriving there from the local population and from the radio station become
Is there anything in here that sounds strange? relevant to what the different organizations do. This is tricky issue, and this is why: decision-making
processes are complex and, again relative. According to what the goal of an organization is and what their
I will tell you what sounds strange to me: 250 people, the LRA movement, is able to kill in one year 2385 role is in a specific context they will find certain information relevant and other not relevant. For instance
people and kidnap 3,054. How is that possible? Well some explanation can be that the United Nations ICRC will be more interested in first hand information on lack of water and food and protection of
and international agencies evidentially suffer from a lack of information on LRA activities at a local level. civilians, UNHCR more on the situation of the refugees, OCHA more on the overall situation,
Research confirms that international actors are yet to fully utilize the knowledge of local people. demobilization and disarmament and protection of civilians.
Sometimes it takes a couple of weeks for the UN and the army to get to know that there has been an attack
in a village. In the est-south of the country there is little phone coverage, one radio station and zero But what does analysis means in the context of crowdsourcing? Analysis is basically the ability to let
Internet coverage. Communication is sorely based on word of mouth or on the ability of the people to information telling us a story, so that we know the beginning and we know the end. In this context the
walk for hours to get to the next village to spread the word. typology of analysis is different from context to context and different analysis applied to different goals.
So now we know what needs to happen: each organization need to be able to receive information in away
But there is something that is even more surprising to me. In CAR, society leaders, local self defense that they can digest and understand and that is specifically designed for what they do. This can be done
groups, traders, hunters, and Mbororo herdsman live and travel in these remote areas where they have by breaking down the information into clusters and send to each humanitarian cluster their relevant
extensive knowledge of LRA whereabouts. This information, so vital to stemming the flow of LRA information.
atrocities, should and could be shared with international organizations, military forces and international
intelligence agents. Yet, there is far little done to make this connection. In this context the role of media become not only relevant but necessary, and we go to our last step. If we
collect information from the local population and then send it to the relevant responders, who will
Ok, I know. Not an easy thing to do. But seriously??? 250 people against 3 armies, 20 NGOs and 4 million guarantee that an action is taken? No one. But media can make sure that if no action is taken the
people? I dont believe this is only a problem of resources and poverty. responsible of this will be hold accountable in front of everyone. This is the lesson we learned from
Lets get our shit together and do something. And I would start with something that may sound Rwanda: no one cannot say anymore: We didnt know.
revolutionary: listen to the people, communicate with disaster affected communities, saving lives by
providing people with information that can empower them in making decisions by themselves.
The following are my main points for this crisis: One of my main concerns is that often I will find a general focus on the evaluation of the infrastructure
that allow the technology to work amd the quality of the technology in terms of functioning, and not on
TECH IS NOT THE SOLUTION TO EVERYTHING ESPECIALLY TO SECURITY the qualitative background necessary for the technology to actually be used.
My point here is that when working with real time data related to sensitive issues, like for example human
trafficking, the main key factor to secure data does not rely in the technical security measures, being it What I think it is extremely important here is not to focus on one or the other but to make sure that all of
encryption or other means, but it lies in the social network, and I am not referring to social online them are taken into consideration and understood in their complexity.
networks, but to social real people networks. I have notices many time in my work that the safety of
the information exchanged in any networks does rely heavily on the ability to create trusted networks on The technology
the ground that are able to secure information because of their deep knowledge of risks, dangers and The functioning of the technology is pretty much straight forward. It does work or it does not work. On
sources of potential security threats. Those social networks are the ones that can still work when the the other side that fact that a technology works does not mean that the technology is the right one for the
technology is not there and are the true base of a secure system. goal you have. Increasingly people choose a technology because they like it and then try to fit it to their
objectives. The reason is that often there is interest, from donors and NGOs in financing and trying new
YOU CAN BUILD THE BEST TECHNICAL SYSTEM WHEN YOU START BY THINKING technologies as to show how innovative your organization or project is. In this context the main problem
WHAT WILL HAPPEN WHEN TECHNOLOGY IS NOT THERE that emerges is that the technology itself, being it radio, mobile, wifii, computer based, can be working
Apart from the issue of security, what I think it is extremely important, especially if you work in Africa, perfectly but not really adding anything to the original context. Other times the technology is working
is to be able to design information systems that always have a PLAN B. If you system does not have any perfectly but the additional cost of it it is too high for the users.
way to work without electricity, or without internet, or without a phone, then you are building something
that most likely is extremely vulnerable and that can be blocked by something as simple as a storm. Affordability of technology
Technology is always supposed to make things easier and faster, but if technology is the only criteria for The affordability of technology is something extremely important that is often linked to the sustainability
the functioning of your system, then it is a limit and not a facilitator. of a project. One of the main issue here is that traditionally people have been focusing on how much does
a technology equipment/ maintenance costs. This is indeed a problem, but not always the main one.
EDUCATION TO SECURITY MEASURES, THREATS AND VULNERABILITIES IS KEY Sometimes the cost a technology is not directly related to the money necessary to buy or to maintain it,
Another interesting thing that I notice when I was working in highly unsafe environments like Sudan and but to the cost associated with the consequences of using it.
Egypt (under Mubarak regime), is that a lot of people underestimate or do not know at all the risks and
the vulnerabilities of their real time information systems. Especially in those two cases, where I was Appropriateness of technology
working directly with activists, which were well aware of the potential risks of someone hacking or tracing This issue is strictly related to the how do u chose which technology is the best for your project and for
their information, the level of awareness of the actual vulnerabilities of their systems was very low. If we the place where u are going to implement it. Some time ago I had a discussion with Laura Hudson from
go to less specilaized groups and especially into the world of small NGOs, the ignorance of the issue is FLSMS about the necessity to have not only technical assessment but also cultural behavior assessment
even bigger. In this regard I have to say that 2 factors are the underlying casues of this situation: Language on the use of technology in a specific context.
and Awareness.
The true is that even if people do have technology, and use it, they use it in a very different way according
Of course, there are ways by which this information can be filtered and made available, but even in this to their culture, their life and the actual context they live in. Decide to use SMS in a country just because
case, the more you open, the more you are increasing the possible risks and vulnerabilities of your there is a high literacy rate and a good mobile penetration is not enough: we need to understand how
system. This tension is always there when dealing with open data and real time information systems, and people use mobile phones, why and in which context.
it needs to be carefully dealt with on a case by case level.
One of thing that I found very useful when working on information systems in emergency situations, is Rising expectation is linked to any humanitarian crisis, to any action taken in those cases and not only to
to create privileged communication channels with the different actors by relying on trusted networks humanitarians but to all subjects acting in environments where the local population is treated as a
already present in the country or in between the humanitarian community. receiver rather than an active actor.

In this regard I have to admit, we knew very well that by putting those information online we were Now the real issue is that there is no way not to rise expectations, since I believe that expectations will
indirectly privileging one group (the one that had access to Internet) to another one ( the one that had no always be there. What can be done, on the contrary, is to minimize those expectations by providing timely
Internet access). On the other side, we also knew very well that the bad people did not needed our and reliable information and by being entirely honest about the purposes of the actions taken. I will use
platform to know what was going on on the ground we were ultimately mapping their actions, so it a practical example for this.
would have been pretty hilarious if they needed to look at our platform to know what they were doing!!
Three things needs to happen according to me:
But despite a common thinking, this was not all about communicating with disaster affected
communities! We tried to communicate with Libyans by relying on local media the once that started 1. One is to spread as much as possible information about how do you communicate with disaster affected
working freely during the war. The problem was that we did not have a way to communicate to them communities, how do you inform them about the actual possibilities of your project in terms of
useful information that did not already knew. This was the reason why there were, on the Libya connection with the humanitarians. In Pakistan for example, we ask the local population to report what
deployment, lists of local media, that we thought could be useful to the humanitarian community to use they were seeing around them, and not their needs, and we also actively send information out about the
to provide useful information to the local population. Of course they did not used it. fact that we were not in the situation of knowing if the humanitarian community was using our
information. Could we have done better? Yes we could, since you can always do better but at least we
There has been a lot of discussion about the fact that having people using social media or the Internet to tried and we were really honest upfront about our goal and out possible outcomes.
put information out is one thing, but aggregate them, map them and categorize them is another thing. I
could not agree more on this, and I also agree that there are several degrees of risks associated with the 2. The second thing that needs to happen is that we need to stop thinking that people that before the crisis
second that are far higher than the first one. Since crisis mapping is ultimately about mapping, were doctors, farmers, mothers and fathers, teachers, after a disaster or during an emergency will become
categorizing and analyzing data, we have to look more inept to this issue. suddenly retarded. I am well aware of the psychological consequences of being affected by displacement,
war, natural disasters and so on, and I am not minimizing such effects on affected populations. What I
Simple as it is, I have to say I am a bit bored about the discussion on u are creating intelligence for the am criticizing here is the victimizing stereotype that we attach indiscriminately to all affected
bad people theory: there has been no one case in the past were the bad people did not knew in advance communities at all times in favor of the we need to protect them approach. Protection of victimization
everything we were mapping or even much more than that. I agree there is a risk to give them some more are two very distinct issues, and we should not confuse them or use them as interchangeable.
info, I also think that we should be a bit more realistic and less sensationalists about this.
3. The third issue, and one of the most important according to me, is the one linked to accountability. The
In addition to this, I have to say, and forgive me for being a bit of an ass: this all being worried about problem here is not rising expectations clearly. The problem is that we are talking about accountability
creating intelligence for the bad people theory is always coming from people that have: of the humanitarian community, or responders in general, with respect to their work and the way
humanitarian aid or political decision, are implemented. The existence of mechanisms where affected
1. Very little knowledge of crisis mapping or repressive regimes communities are allowed to express their views and their opinions about the way humanitarian relief is
2. Almost never taken part in any of the crisis mapping deployment were this was an issue provided, is scarring for the humanitarian community because there are not a lot of existing used
3. They kind of strangely disappeared when there is a deployment like this, while writing in-depth mechanisms to call for accountability in this sector.
I know I am not the best and most diplomatic person ever ever when it comes to arguing about things One of the most interesting thing that they thought me was something that they called
that I know about. On the other side I am also a big fan of the theory that if you dont know what you are the Facebook Battle. At first I thought they were talking about one of those super annoying games that
talking about, then you better just not talk about it. you play on Facebook, the ones that all your friends feel the need to invite you to, and that normally end
up in my spam email, with a back flag close to the name of the bored friend that sent it to me.
In the past year I have eyewitness a lot of conversations, blog posts, papers and so on, on Crisis Mapping,
Crowdsourcing and related issues that were completely misleading, not because the statements or the I discover soon that they were not referring to a game, even if the activity was quite fun anyway!
ideas in it were wrong, but because the underlying definition that the authors had about the subject that
they were addressing was fundamentally wrong. The story of the Facebook Battles starts on 1st July, 2010, when the Egyptian Ministry of Interior (MOI)
established a special department to monitor Facebook activities and content in Egypt. The department
TOOLS, METHODOLOGIES AND PEOPLE was composed by a team working according to three shifts/8 hours each and composed of 15 individuals:
2 police officers, 10 secretaries of police and 3 engineers. The main task of this group was to monitor
One of the most comment mistake done by several people is the one were methodologies, tools and groups Facebook content like groups, pages and chat and to publish reports countering online criticism of
of people/organizations are mixed together as if they indicate the same thing. current Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak or his son Gamal.

Lets start from the very first definition according to the dictionary: The Facebook War was something very simple: activists were very much extensively present on the net.
So whenever a new Facebook page pro-regime was being created, they spread the voice in bw each other
1. Tool: a device used to implement, esp. one held in the hand, used to carry out a particular function. using Twitter, SMS, normal phone call or emails. Once the page was identified, the activists were using
2. Methodology: a system of methods used in a particular area of study or activity their social network to spread the voice. Then the attack was planned and organized: each activist was
3. People: human beings in general or considered collectively taking a shift, like the Facebook team from the regime was doing. Each shift had a couple of activists in
it, and in that amount of time, their work was to go to the facebook page and simply answer to each of the
Crisis Mapping can be then described as the combination of the following 3 components: information pro-regime comments with a counter argument.
collection, visualization and analysis. Of course, all these elements are within the context of a dynamic,
interactive map. So it is possible to use the following taxonomy: The activists were in this way in a matter of days simply filling the entire Facebook page with so many
comments against the regime that the page was not anymore usable of its original purpose, advertising
1. Crisis Map Sourcing the regime, but instead became a full revolutionary page against the regime. This was forcing the
2. Crisis Map Visualization original creators to shut it down. In one case at least, the activists even managed to get ownership of the
3. Crisis Map Analysis page and transform it into a page to show the atrocity of the regime against activists.

To conclude: Sadly enough, it is already possible to find pages in Facebook that push for hate or violence against on of
another group. So my question here is, how to face that? Would it be possible to create a Facebook
There are a lot of discussions going on about crisis mapping and security issues, as well as about Peacemaker Team that go into all those pages and counterbalance the opinions in there? And what about
crowdsourcing and the use of the Ushahidi platform, or crowdsourcing and data protection. I think that Twitter> Could we monitor socila media and use them for Peacebuilding activities? Can we just learn
the more we talk about it, the better is it; but it is necessary that we start understanding what we talk from the Egyptian activists and use social media as an early warning system, but also as a battle ground
about, otherwise arguments and positions that have a value, immediately loose it, because they are based where we can fight against violence and hate in a non-violent way?
on wrong assumptions. All in all the lesson learned is: do your homework!
Ok. I needed a catchy title for this conversation, and yes, I do not think that journalism is dead, but I do Why this is a false issue!
think that most journalists will be, if they do not understand what is going on in this new connected
world. I will proceed gradually. If you are a journalists and you agree with all of the statements listed Dont take me wrong, those are very legitimate questions and I do understand what lies behind asking
here, then yes, your job is dead and you should think about finding another job. those questions. But to be honest, I think that the very fact that we are asking those questions is a
demonstration that we are missing a very important point: citizens feedback mechanisms will never work
1. Journalists are the gatekeepers of information. No they are arent anymore. Today I gather most of the if citizens are not part of our project design and embedded into the ay we work.
information I need simply by using twitter and facebook, or, if I am looking for some specific technical
informations, I look for blogs written by experts in the area. Informations landscape today goes much Until we will keep designing a project, implement it, and then ask people to give us feedback, we will
beyond journalists and traditional media, since everyone can reach everyone at any time, independently never get to the point where people will trust our mechanism or where we will have a real impact. Once
form their physical location. This is not valid only because of the internet, but also because of mobile we have already put in motion the machine of project implementation there is no way back. Donors will
phones. not be willing to re-fund entirely a project that has been already implemented, we would be less willing
to accept criticisms after we have worked so hard to start a project, and most importantly, beneficiaries
2. Journalists are the one that have access to information before anyone else. Again, this was valid before, will not trust our system once they see that they have not even been asked if they wanted the project in
because journalists could get access to place and information much easier than others, but also because the first place.
an information needed to pass from eyewitnesses through them to get out. Today eyewitnesses get
information out before they even talk to a journalist: they tweet it, they facebook it, they blog it, they text Dont take me wrong; I know that this is difficult. I have been there. Involving communities in the very
it. first formulation of an issue is not easy and sometimes it is not even possible. If we had to ask people in
Pakistan or Saudi Arabia to vote if they want or not projects to protect women, I doubt we will ever do
3. Journalists are the only one that can push information out more then anyone else. Again not true any projects in that sense. On the other side, we need to stop using this feedback mechanisms mantra to
anymore. it is till true that probably there is not blogger that has as much readers than the New York avoid talking about the real issue.
Times or the Guardian, but the aggregated number of bloggers, twitter accounts or facebook pages that
can push information out will always be higher than a single media outlet. We are still very much working in a totally hierarchical system, where we decide, we involve in the project
only the local partners that agree with us, we decide who are the voices that count, and after that we add
To conclude, this is what I think is the situation right now: a feedback mechanism to label our project as a participatory project. The truth is that to create a feedback
mechanism that works people need to trust you.
1. Traditional Journalism will still exists as long as journalists will understand that they have no choice
in embracing social media and the technology revolution. You need to cultivate and create a relationship. And you do it only by working with communities since
the very beginning. Beneficiaries are not stupid. They have seen our feedback mechanisms before. They
2. The added value of journalism, being it in the creation and implementation of verification technics or have answered tons of surveys, got our SMSs, called our hot lines, participated in our focus groups, filled
the reliability of their voice as opposed to the noise of the crowd need to be created and demonstrated, it our forms, etc. But they know they are not part of the system. The very fact that we need to create a
will not be given for granted forever. feedback mechanism means that we do not even have a channel to talk to them, and for them to talk to
us, in our projects.
3. There is not such a things as citizens journalism as opposed to traditional journalism. There is
journalism, and it both a new and an old concept that needs to be continuously adapting to the change in This is the problem. This is the question we need to ask: are we using feedback mechanisms because we
the reality of information systems. have not been doing our job in the first place? Is this a false issue to hide the real issues behind the way
we do development projects?
I have been looking at the cyber-security space for quite some time now. I have been myself a victim of
my own inability to protect myself online, a mistake that I am still paying for.

On the other side I have accumulated increasing frustration towards the freedom online movement,
freedom of the internet, cybersecurity/digital security kind of community (I know they are not all the
same thing, but for normal people, yes they are).

I am no expert to be able to teach lessons and to point fingers, but I have been both a mentor and a
user of circumvention and privacy tools, so I believe that I have gathered quite some knowledge
regarding what is working and what it is not working in that space, and why I am still looking at the digital
security movement as a fundamentally big failure.

Granted, I am not blaming anyone, but rather trying to investigate why we (and yes I put myself into this)
have not been able to achieve what we wanted, which was indeed a more open and free internet and more
security and privacy for everyone.

The first reason where I see this failure is how little people are really adopting and using tools that can
protect themselves. The reason behind this is as simple as it is stupid: there are too many, no one agrees
on their degree of security, and some of them make your life a living hell. Lets take TOR as example.

It has been advertised and taught in all possible ways and almost in all the parts of the world.
The TacticalTech guide for digital securityhas the best and most complete instructions on how to use it,
in several languages. Lots of people agree it is the best tool available right now to protect yourself online.

We need a much broader advocacy strategy that starts from obliging, for example, all companies to write
in plain English their Term of Reference; mobile providers to give instructions to each of their customers
about where and when their communications are recorded, stored and kept; make compulsory to attach
to each mobile handset sold an instruction sheet that explains to people how their device can be tracked;
all providers to have self encrypted systems where they DO NOT have access to the data, they just act as
the means to move the data.

We need a much stronger position not just against the NSA, but as a community on what we did wrong
and how to do it better. Demonstrating or collecting signatures, I am sorry, it is not a strategy, its the last
resource of an already failed movement.

We need to re-group, re-focus and start everything all over again.


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