On the nature of surveillance, self defense, and activism

The Seattle Privacy Coalition instructed our first anonymous group of Seattleites who are victims of abusive surveillance or at risk of becoming a victim. Overwhelmingly, the students of our first workshop were women, even though everyone that attended ranged in age, background, race, nationality, ethnicity, and sexual-orientation. Despite their differences, their commonality was their genuine care for people — society — to such a degree that their non-violent actions are considered a threat to corporate and government power.

The concern

Almost 226 years ago, our fundamental rights as Americans were ratified. Broad protections were guaranteed to us against search and seizure, something that we, as a society, now sometimes call privacy due to the large amount of our lives willingly and unwillingly propelled into digital spaces. Objection to intrusive search and seizure of physical objects has evolved into our ability to control personal information made harder by advancing and cheapening technology.

Corporations, governments, and law enforcement agencies do not have a right to abuse people by way of deploying advanced technology. They may have the ability and privilege to do so, but that ability and privilege cannot and should not become a slippery slope to control people who are exercising their government-sponsored and government-protected right to protest perceived abuses of power. What is the significance of our constitutional protections unless we act, so that our rights become right and our values proven?

Despite the stark ethical differences between rights and privileges, activists are readily harassed, stalked, physically abused, or murdered. Anyone guided by justifiability and morality can understand why we need to support this vulnerable population of people.

The workshop

In large part, surveillance self-defense is about technology and education. Similar to the practice of martial arts, self-defense is learned by empowering one’s self with knowledge and control over mind, body, and environment. Understanding technological threats and assets will help non-violent activists achieve their goals. To best achieve our objectives, we approached this training with the wisdom of a teacher and also the curiosity of a student. Everyone there had something to share and learn.

Our students were not tech-savvy. Many of them had cell phones that were merely recommended to them by family members or casual friends. One of them had a Windows phone, something even our technologists didn’t know if it employs storage encryption. Even though only one person was the facilitator over the course of almost five hours of training, various Seattle Privacy Coalition co-educators were participants of the training and regularly contributed facts, metaphors, and applied real-time research.

We started off by introducing the Seattle Privacy Coalition and notable facts about the organizers, like not being associated with law enforcement or intelligence services. A story was told to create some initial privacy empowerment and a statement about everyone’s right to identity-self-determination while  participating in the workshop.

We started our curriculum by highlighting the cause of risk, which can be characterized by a balance between threat and vulnerability. Throughout the workshop, distinctions were made by attributing the specifics of scenarios to either a threat or a vulnerability to best appreciate any given risk.

The first tool provided to our students was not software; it was an information resource, one regularly brought back into the dialogue. The Electronic Frontier Foundation‘s (EFF) online guide titled “Surveillance Self Defense” (SSD) was chosen to be our primary reference material. Their amazing and much needed work is where we got the name of our new program. We think that the EFF’s SSD should discuss the notion of a vulnerability, not just the notion of a threat when assessing risk regarding “An Introduction to Threat Modeling“.

Another SSD concern was the need for a preemptive list of jargon in each article. As you might notice, one of the Seattle Privacy Coalition’s goals is to provide constructive feedback to the EFF from our experiences with our activist and journalist students.

Graciously, one of our students enjoyed sharing the words of every acronym that we used to instruct with. It was a healthy reminder that our students need a lot of breakdown, which in effect, leads to a lot of segues. Seattle Privacy Coalition needs to include more subtle structure into our curriculum plans so not to spend as much time on segues. Segues created a condition where it became too easy for non-technologists to get lost. We regularly asked if everyone were comfortable with the previously discussed topic so people could easily ask questions.

Other over-arching concepts included the differences between active and passive surveillance, and also the differences between transport encryption and encrypted storage. The Seattle Privacy Coalition needs to add a section disusing a basic concept of encryption in our upcoming workshops.

The majority of our students were iOS and OS X users, which was slightly unfortunate since we don’t have any Apple users among the active Seattle Privacy Coalition volunteers. Creating power users out of Apple users was a clear challenge in our workshop, but we were able to educate on a few important self-defense tactics and operations.

Regardless of the lack of Apple iOS and OS X experience, we were able to cover many outstanding encryption tools. We only instructed on the use of open source tools made by The Guardian Project, Open Whisper Systems, and The Tor Project . We limited our tools training to these developers because of their commitment to human rights, attention to usability, and their verifiable skills at employing strong encryption through careful software development.

We covered topics like “data linkability” and applied its concept throughout the workshop. We covered notions of “metadata” and applied its concept throughout the workshop. We covered search and seizure laws and rights. We covered Washington state audio and video recording laws and responsibilities. We made sure every Android and iOS user had storage encryption enabled. We also discussed OTR advantages in light of the above chosen software tools.

We spent a lot of time talking about cell phone communication encryption as a matter of risk deterrence. We did this by covering basic cellular network infrastructure and various vulnerabilities. Discussing SS7 vulnerabilities, baseband processor vulnerabilities, and IMSI-catcher threat detection was a primary knowledge area that we think is critically important for activists.

With only five hours before everyone was completely wiped, we barely had enough time to cover the proper use of Tor. Regrettably, Tor was talked about only as a solution. We did not comprehensively discuss threats and vulnerabilities. We did not have enough time to include any hands-on exercises which we think is ideal for showing activists how easy it is to install and use the above mentioned software tools. We also were not able to talk about HTTPS or PKI, which would have been useful after a basic intro to encryption.

Lastly, while we were able to discuss contact management for cell phones, we did not discuss contact management for personal computers. In fact, while 5 hours is a lot of time, we had no time for talking about personal computer hardening aside from a few brief mentions of Tails Linux. The only attendees to raise their hands as being Linux users were those from the Seattle Privacy Coalition.

In Retrospect

Everyone walked away having learned many important things, and with a some healthy paranoia. Seattle Privacy Coalition volunteers learned a lot too, particularly about the nature of this specific underrepresented community in Seattle. The Seattle City Council is advised by the Citizens Technology and telecommunications Advisory Board (CTTAB), and in a couple months, CTTAB will be hosting a privacy symposium specifically looking at underrepresented communities that are often hurt by data mismanagement or surveillance. Activists are not only underrepresented, they’re often abused and misunderstood by capitalists, politicians, and journalists. We hope that these surveillance self-defense workshops will help our fellow residents, our city, and our perception of privacy moving forward.

Surveillance Self Defense for Activists, January 2015



Greetings Seattle activists!

Seattle Privacy Coalition is starting a new workshop in Seattle called Surveillance Self Defense, a name gratefully adopted from the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s “Tips, Tools and How-tos for Safer Online Communications“. Our workshops will be free to the public but limited in space.

Surveillance Self Defense for Activists will start in January 2015 and occur every-other month. So if you miss January’s, remember that another workshop will happen in March 2015. We are also starting Surveillance Self Defense for Journalists, which will begin in February 2015.

Our first workshop, for activists, will be on Sunday, January 18. Registration is not yet open. The time, location and curriculum will be announced when registration opens next week. Curriculum will include securing your phone and computer (and related communication) for on-the-ground activists, no matter if you’re an organizer or participant.


There will be no form of registration that will record who is attending, so no Facebook, Meetup, or email invites of any kind. This is done to protect the privacy of the attendees. Depending on our workshop space, we will have a limit to how many people we can accommodate. We’ll know how many people to expect based on how many anonymous surveys are submitted.

Below is a set of draft survey questions that we’ll be asking each participant to answer before they attend. They have been created with the help of Internews’ SaferJourno project. We’re putting these here now just to give you an idea of what kinds of things we’ll be educating you about:

  1. Do you use a cell phone when participating in protests?
  2. What is the operating system of the cell phone that you take to protests?
  3. Select the capabilities of said cell phone:
    1. Phone calls
    2. SMS (text messaging)
    3. Data (internet access via 2G, 3G, or 4G)
    4. Bluetooth
    5. Camera
    6. Video camera
    7. (fill in the blank)
  4. When participating in protests, what communication platforms do you use?
    1. Google Hangouts
    2. Apple iMessage
    3. SMS/texts
    4. Facebook Chat
    5. Email
    6. Twitter
    7. (fill in the blank)
  5. Do you know any differences between HTTP and HTTPS?
  6. Have you used privacy enhancing tools such as a VPN or Tor, either on a computer or on a cell phone?
  7. Have you ever sent an encrypted email before?
  8. Is your cell phone password protected?
    1. Yes, with a pin number
    2. Yes, with a password
    3. Yes, with a pattern
    4. Yes, with a fingerprint
    5. Yes, with a faceprint
    6. No
  9. Is your cell phone’s storage encrypted?
  10. Do you know what an IMSI-catcher, or “Stingray”, is?
  11. Regarding the personal computer that you use to coordinate protests, what is its operating system?
  12. Have you ever had a personal computing device seized or confiscated?
  13. Are you currently a victim of active surveillance?
  14. Do you drive, carpool, bus, bike, or walk to protests?
    1. Drive
    2. Carpool
    3. Bus
    4. Bike
    5. Walk
  15. Do you use your electronic debit, credit, and/or bus card(s) before, during, or after attending a protest?
    1. Yes, debit/credit
    2. Yes, bus (Orca) card
    3. No
  16. Do you have access to a technical specialist when you have questions about digital safety tools and practices?
  17. What topics would you like to see covered at this workshop?
  18. Will you be bringing your cell phone or laptop to the workshop? We encourage you to for our hands-on training.

Please be sure to check back here next week for registration! For organizing queries, please send an (ideally PGP encrypted) email to “yawnbox at riseup dot net”. If you’re a security or legal educator and wish to get involved, please email me.


In search of privacy advocacy from underrepresented communities

In an attempt to bring together various privacy stakeholders in Seattle, particularly from the Muslim community, I attended my first Muslim, Sikh and Arab Advisory Council meeting looking for specific privacy cases to learn about. I later wrote to the Seattle Police Department with various questions and concerns. In light of the City of Seattle establishing a welcomed Privacy Initiative, it seems prudent to involve privacy stakeholders from various local and underrepresented communities.

Below is an email sent to a Seattle Police Department program manager regarding the the Muslim, Sikh and Arab Advisory Council to the Seattle Police Department on November 19th, 2014. The program manager, Maggie Olsen, promptly replied stating that my email had been forwarded to the Commander of the Community Outreach Section, Captain John Hayes. Jan and I have not yet received a reply.

Hello Maggie,

My name is Christopher Sheats, a concerned citizen of Seattle and a volunteer for the Seattle Privacy Coalition (SPC) (seattleprivacy.org).
My colleague Jan is CC'd, she is the SPC director. I'm writing with regard to the Muslim, Sikh and Arab (MSA) Advisory Council to the Seattle Police Department.

This email may be better directed to Detective Yanal Vwich, or possibly Chief Kathleen O'Toole. I attended my first MSA meeting on October 2nd, 2014. I advertised that the Citizens Technology and Telecommunications Advisory Board (CTTAB) was planning a privacy symposium to focus on the privacy impact to vulnerable populations in Seattle. The privacy symposium is supposed to happen next year, but I am not yet sure about details.

I also want Detective Yanal Vwich and the MSA to be aware that the City of Seattle is establishing a special, and likely permanent, privacy advisory board for the city. For more information about the new privacy

CITY OF SEATTLE LAUNCHES DIGITAL PRIVACY INITIATIVE http://murray.seattle.gov/city-of-seattle-launches-digital-privacy-initiative/

Seattle Takes the Lead in Nationwide Surveillance vs. Privacy Debate

Composition of City’s Privacy Advisory Board (written by Jan)

I have several questions, please help where possible.

Q1- It appears that MSA and the East African Advisory Council's have been combined and that their meeting schedule has been severely reduced. 
Why is that?

Q2- Given the privacy and trust implications of these vulnerable populations, I was surprised to learn that these meetings were being held at a government facility. I know that this has a negative impact on attendance. Why can't it be changed to a community center, with more access to bus routes?

NSA Surveillance Chilling Effects: HRW and ACLU Gather More Evidence https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2014/07/nsa-surveillance-chilling-effects

Q3- Would't it be prudent to have a member of the Muslim community to be directly involved with the Seattle Privacy Advisory Board?

Latest Snowden Leaks: FBI Targeted Muslim-American Lawyers http://www.wired.com/2014/07/snowden-leaks/

One of the attendees bluntly accused that the FBI was spying on people in his community. The FBI attendee blatantly lied in response--given the Snowden revelations that go into specific proof that says otherwise. The Seattle City Council, the Seattle Police Department, local FBI offices, and the City's IT Dept all share the responsibility in gaining trust though cooperation and privacy enhancements.

Having gone to just one MSA meeting, I was almost overwhelmed with the amount of distrust between attending members of vulnerable populations and the various US Gov attendees. As an empathetic white male, it was uncomfortable.

On behalf of the Seattle Privacy Coalition, I would like to assist wherever possible to help bridge this divide, regarding trust through privacy. Please share the following information to the respective Advisory Councils where appropriate. It would also be great to get members of MSA involved with our citizen group (Seattle Privacy Coalition) for greater diversity:

Send an empty email to the following address to be put on our announce

Seattle Privacy Coalition can be contacted directly:

I can be contacted directly, and I have a public PGP key available:
7DFF 4EE5 1C63 9060 C9C9
A48A BEAF 1420 523A EB46

If any of you would like help setting up your own PGP key-pair so that people can securely contact you, or an alternative secure chat application, please let me know.

Lastly, with your permission, I'd like to publish any or all responses to our blog, SeattlePrivacy.org, so that the public can be further educated about these ongoing issues.


Christopher Sheats

Exploring privacy in public spaces

What should I expect–as a matter of privacy–in public spaces? The City of Seattle, my home, recently accepted more Department of Homeland Security grant money to expand its existing DHS-funded wireless mesh and surveillance network to include cameras and facial recognition software.

Although I know city officials are trying to use technology to enhance the functionality of the city, there are many privacy-impacting technologies, like our plethora of transportation tracking mechanisms, that make me feel like they want to track my every move. What does it all mean? Is it wrong to feel uneasy about public surveillance?

In this exploratory article, I will apply some critical thought to the issue of personal privacy.

The concept of personal privacy is easily grounded in our idea of a home. A juxtaposition might be spending time in a public space, such as walking down the street or relaxing in a local park. This simple scale of privacy would look like this:

  • relaxing at home (high expectation for privacy)
  • relaxing in a public park (low expectation for privacy)

Fortunately, life is not as simple–or as constant–as living privately at home and hanging out in public. Depending on how you live your life, many circumstances and factors impact your personal privacy. It seems prudent to identify the non-linear constants in order to shape the scope of personal privacy. At a glance, privacy appears to be relative to the expectations of any given culture, and then further defined by any person. Here are a few generalized cases:

  • personal bathroom (high expectation for privacy)
  • intimate actions with another
  • relaxing at home
  • driving a personal vehicle on a public road
  • relaxing in a public park
  • presidential speech
  • pornography (low expectation for privacy)

These cases and their order will not be the same for every person. However, there are several observable and quantifiable constraints that shape these cases that probably will be applicable to many more people, and I will attempt to define these constraints:

  • physical security (PS) – how open to physical touch are you?
  • visible security (VS) – how open to visual inspection are you?
  • time of privilege (ToP) – when (an explicit or implicit range of time) is it okay to impede upon your PS or VS?
  • space of privilege (SoP) – in what physical spaces, or what obstacles, affect your PS and VS?

The role of privilege appears to provide the structure to any given notion of personal privacy. Fundamentally, there appears to always be some aspect of privilege in any circumstance, and every circumstance requires some form or privacy for psychological stability and physical safety. Let’s go a step further by defining and applying a sub-scale:

  • 4: you and only you are allowed (examples: you and only you)
  • 3: one-to-few persons that are explicitly defined as having an explicit purpose, and are allowed only during an explicit amount of time in an explicit amount of space (examples: intimacy with a loved one at home, a visit to the doctor at their office, or a meeting with your lawyer at their office)
  • 2: one-to-many persons, including automated systems, having implicit expectations, may have temporary PS or VS access but still limited in ToP and SoP (examples: attending a music concert, shopping at the mall, or dancing with friends at a club)
  • 1: anybody, including automated systems, has full PS or TS access, but still limited in ToP and SoP (examples: performing on stage, recording yourself for a YouTube video, Tweeting publicly)

There doesn’t appear to be any measurement that does not have a basic expectation of personal privacy due to the requirements of “time of privilege” and “space of privilege”. As intelligent and reactionary individuals, our expectations of privacy are extremely dynamic and are always based on the outcome of our expected actions, particularly where we are and why we are there. Once we end any given action, in any given space, our privacy expectations will vary depending on what we expect is next. Applied:

  • personal bathroom: PS-4, VS-4
  • intimate actions with another: PS-3, VS-3
  • relaxing at home: PS-3, VS-3
  • driving a personal vehicle on a public road: PS-4, VS-2
  • relaxing in a public park: PS-4, VS-2
  • presidential speech: PS-3, VS-1
  • pornography: PS-3, VS-1

With these cases, it is apparent that physical security has a certain priority over visual security, probably because people are generally more careful with what they allow people to physically do with them (risk of injury) versus what people are allowed to see. Again, this is relative to where certain people are and for how long certain people are there.


A special advantage, immunity, permission, right, or benefit granted to or enjoyed by an individual, class, or caste.

Society has helped shape my understanding about sex, in that the act is very special and should always be protected. It is an event that is so sensitive that it requires physical exclusivity with that person. The complex nature of privacy requires the notion of privilege, an extremely important requirement in order to have an intimate relationship with another individual. Ordinarily, my partner should have cost me a great deal of time and energy to develop trust and understanding. Through relationship building, my partner and I are able to take part in acts with each other that, ideally, no one else in the entire world is supposed to be involved with. That being said, it still only gets a score of 3 for “physical security” and 3 for “visual security”.

Having intimate relations with another person still does not rival the time (ToP) and space (SoP) that I allot myself when I use the bathroom. No one can bother me there. In my bathroom, I can take a shower and be allowed to independently think and relax, be able to utilize the toilet, or be able to calmly take care of myself in front of my mirror. I have explicit privilege to all aspects of myself in this space. This level of privilege is not easily or willingly jeopardized, and is why it gets a score of 4 for “physical security” and 4 for “visual security”.

With these two cases, it is clear to me that the notion of both physical and visual security, shaped by time and space, are inherently important in order to define the context of privacy. Privilege is an expectation set by me that defines the rules for what I am willing to share with others during explicit amounts of time and space, and this all amounts to personalized privacy.

When I am at home, either by myself or shared with my friends and family, privilege is automatically extended to specific people that I have developed specific levels of trust. This trust is not always mutual, but it is trust that I extend to others nonetheless that is based on my expectations.

Considering more moderate situations of privilege, entering the “public sphere” means that I am leaving an explicitly trusted space. Concepts such as “access” and “trust” become more passive, implicit, and dynamic. We withhold more physical access privileges while passively accepting an increase in visual access, meaning that we are willing to give up a certain level of visual security in order to accomplish specific tasks. Basically, in public, we extend access to ourselves more often, but it is not given out as deeply. This is why “driving a vehicle on a public road” and “relaxing in a public park” have the same level of physical security as being alone in your “personal bathroom“, while it has the lower visual security that is exclusive to day-to-day action in the public sphere.

The internet is vastly different

Both private and public aspects of the Internet play critical roles in my life. I use implicitly-public internet mediums everyday in order to access and share information, probably more than most people due to my addiction to Twitter and my desire to stay connected with worldly events. And since I don’t use a cell phone, all of my personal communication with my friends and family are sent and received via digital networks using implicitly-private internet mediums.

Fundamentally, physical security becomes two things online, one of which is the security of my physical location, something that can be exposed either by automated processes such as GPS information, or by me sharing my whereabouts accidentally or on purpose. Physical security considerations also include the general maintenance and storage of information, either “data at rest” (i.e.: databases) or “data in motion” (i.e.: data transfer). Visual security is dramatically different online. The information that I consume and/or share is explicitly or implicitly indicative of my individuality, all of which can not only be seen by a huge amount of people, but it is copied, stored, and later seen by, possibly, a similarly huge amount of people.

Together, physical and visual insecurity, uniquely made possible by the internet, is the permanent exposure of my thoughts. The consequences of sharing information via digital mediums goes beyond anything that our human brains are capable of understanding.

Information security has three requirements for proper care, commonly defined as the “CIA triad“:

  • Confidentiality – Is the information only accessible to the right people?
  • Integrity – Is the information authentic and unchanged?
  • Availability – Is the information always accessible to the right people?

These requirements are deeply entangled with personal privacy and the protection of privilege. If the security of my information is not maintained, then information about me will be at risk for exposure which fundamentally violates my personal privacy. Online privilege can then be determined by explicit access controls that I set which is grounded by a personally determined understanding of consequences when information is exposed to anyone beyond me. The problem with controlling privilege online is that it’s nearly impossible to do.

Internet-based social networking is extremely popular. Over time, my social profiles require me to make a copy of my highlights, my achievements, my problems, my story; all of these unique and interesting things about me that help distinguish me, all of these things that prior to the internet only existed on a one-on-one basis with a very select amount of people. With internet-based social networking, my persistent profiles are not only available for everyone to see 24/7, but the companies that I entrust my story with can make a copy, can sell a copy, or can hand a copy over to anyone it thinks is justified. The real-time stories about my life, how I think, what I hate, who I love–the deeper notions of my individuality are brought out when I converse with people that I explicitly trust or want to trust. The companies that I have to trust when I want to connect with people get a permanent copy–a permanent version of me.

For the internet to work for me, I have to provide it something that goes dramatically beyond what I’m used to giving out. I have to give the internet my thoughts, and it’s not as simple as it sounds. The internet gets a copy of what I think, when I think it, how I think it, and worst of all, anyone who can see my thoughts and the meta-information about my thoughts gets to write it all down, permanently, for their own personal records. Fundamentally, I have to forfeit the security of my thoughts in order to use the internet.

Offline, a very controlled amount of people are able to have a copy of my thoughts. The probability of being able to maintain the control of my thoughts is vastly improved when I know that once I say something or share my feelings–shaped by an emotionally connecting expression–I don’t have to worry about those things being misused or mishandled.

When I make a status update online, write a comment, or send a message, people don’t get an emotionally connecting expression. People don’t get to simply remember what I say or how I say it. People–potentially many more than intended–can save it, can come back to it at any time in the future, and can think about it in new and unexpected ways because the state of that information will not change even though people do.


Close observation of a person or group, especially one under suspicion.

Surveillance is fundamentally a combination of search and seizure. When it comes to internet, telecommunications, or audio and video surveillance, you can not search something unless you seize it first. Spying is the act of looking at people and the information that they create that was not explicitly intended to be shared. In order to spy on people, other people have to compromise the confidentiality of me or my things. A compromise of confidentiality means a compromise in personal security. Surveillance should never be tolerated by a society if performed outside of the scope of explicit criminal inquiry.

Like the majority of commonly-privileged Americans, I do not actively perceive physically or visually violating search or seizure of my person or property in such a way that negatively affects my life. However, Edward Snowden has brought to light many facts that show that our government is actively violating my first and fourth amendment rights. This situation is the most pervasive example that any of us in our entire lives will ever indirectly experience. This situation is exactly why my rights are written down on the documents that founded this country, because the people that directly experienced persecution from Brittan in the 1700’s attempted to proactively protect the citizens of this country. This situation must be fixed in order to avert the slippery-slope conditions that make a tyranny possible.

I think that there is a clear difference between being watched given any particular activity, the recording of that activity, and further its long-term retention. Storing specific information about where I am, what I am doing, and with whom I am doing something with is a far more potentially damaging act than simply watching me and forgetting about me.


What does is mean when Seattle’s government takes money from a federal government grant program that came to be following a major terrorist attack? Has Seattle’s government lost its ability to keep the peace, or does it simply, fundamentally, not trust its citizenry? If Seattle’s government continues with the installation of cameras and facial recognition software, it is a demonstration of illegitimacy. Mass surveillance is terrorism, because it concisely says to the public, “You are the enemy.”

The circumstances of your life determine your privileges. Privacy is something that you always have and that you have to work to keep in order to protect your privileges, especially in public spaces where your security carries greater risk. If you have to request privacy from someone who inherently doesn’t care about you, then you have already been stripped of your privileges and you should reject this completely because you should not forfeit your identity, your intentions, or your thoughts so willingly. The exception to this is when you commit a crime, something defined by society as being counterproductive to a stable society. You are innocent until proven guilty because implicit trust is fundamental to a stable society. Your identity and your thoughts are what allow you to exist as an individual. The large majority of people want to do the good and right thing in any social context. Just because a small amount of society chooses to do the opposite does not justify the compromise everyone’s individuality and the devolution of a stable society.

TA3M Seattle, January 2014

====== Seattle TA3M, January 2014 ======

When: January 20, 2014, 6:30-9:00pm

Where: Black Coffee Coop (BOOKED, we WILL be there!)

====== This Month (January) ======

The focus will be user training this month, which is something we’d like to start doing on a regular basis. We want to introduce members of the audience, especially people who aren’t necessarily technical experts, to some simple encrypted chat apps on the PC and Android. We would like everyone to start playing with chat applications like Cryptocat, Pidgin + OTR, Jitsi, and Bitmessage. If you are more technically inclined and already familiar with these apps, please help anyone that is interested in learning to get set up and start playing!

The entire audience is encouraged to bring a laptops and try playing with some of the programs after a brief introductory talk. We of course recommend using some flavor of Linux, but if you’re running Windows that’s fine. All of the apps we’ll be covering work on both operating systems, and the point is to get started playing with some apps that you can use to regain some dignity for your personal communications.

In our second talk, we will introduce people to a few smartphone apps, developed by The Guardian Project and others. Possible apps include ChatSecure (formerly Gibberbot), Orbot, Orweb, Textsecure and Redphone.

We will be providing flyers with links and brief descriptions of the apps we cover, and will post any presentations online. We encourage anyone to use our course materials and if you learned something interesting, to share it with the people you regularly communicate with.

====== What to Bring ======

Bring someone new! Bring anyone you know that you would like to be introduced to private communication software. Friends, family, activists, co-workers; people all technical levels will be welcome. You won’t be an expert in two hours, but it’s plenty of time to learn how to bring some privacy and dignity back into your personal conversations with friends and family.

A laptop, Linux or Windows (we won’t be covering Apple products specifically, but there is an OTR-compatible chat client called Adium that is quite user-friendly). Though we don’t endorse Windows and suggest transitioning to an open source operating system as soon as you can, it’s what most people have. The apps we’ll be covering have both Windows and Linux versions that are easy for anyone to start playing with. Ideally, bring a laptop that has the above-mentioned programs already installed. You can also bring a LiveCD for Xubuntu or Linux Mint, which will allow participants to test new apps without making any changes to their systems.

An Android-compatible smartphone, if you would like to follow along with our second talk of the evening. All of the apps we will be demonstrating should be readily available on the Google Play store.

====== Schedule ======

6:30 – Intro, announcements

6:40 – Don’t Be Afraid to Talk to Each Other – Encrypted Chat for Beginners

7:00 – practice time, networking and conversation

7:40 – Privacy Apps for Android

8:15 – Practice, networking, open floor for discussion

9:00 – Official end

====== Links to This Month’s Topics ======






The Guardian Project



====== About TA3M ======

TA3M-Seattle (Techno-Activism 3rd Mondays) is a monthly event taking place in cities worldwide, focusing on the issues of surveillance and censorship, and how open technology can be used to combat it. We bring together software developers, activists, concerned citizens, and anyone who cares about these issues. Our mission is to help improve open technology and get more people using it. We do this by showing people how to start playing with free and open source privacy and communications software, and by giving developers a chance to raise awareness of their projects among both potential users and technical contributors.


Each month we will have 1-3 presentations, with time for networking in between and after. Presentations cover the general topics of 1) Training, teaching privacy and security-centric skills, accessible to novice computer users. 2) Presentations about open technology projects, both to spread awareness to the general public and to tell technical people what they need to know to contribute. 3) Societal issues related to privacy and technology, and announcements for related events and projects.

TA3M-Seattle has 2 goals: 1) Help novice computer users – especially groups that need it most, including journalists, activists, etc. – learn about using technology securely and privately. 2) To get advanced users and developers to contribute to existing tools and sharing knowledge about how to make use of them.


We’re always looking to give a platform to knowledgeable speakers and to collaborate with the local tech community. Let us know if you’re interested in speaking. Soon you might even get a t-shirt!

TA3M-Seattle is a member of the Seattle Privacy Coalition, , and is sponsored by the Open Internet Tools Project .

partial list of groups that we have been associated with include, Seattle Privacy Coalition, Tor Project, LibrePlanet-WA, ACLU-WA, RiseUp.net, Seattle MeshNet, FreeGeek Seattle, Geeks WithOut Bounds, local hackerspaces, local open source-related user groups… and many others.

Please suggest any other groups that should be involved in what we’re doing!

====== Training Resources ======

In addition to attending monthly TA3M sessions, we hope that participants will be able to share anything they learned with others. We would like everyone to be involved with scaling up TA3M and helping to spread open technology. In the future, we will be posting downloadable pamphlets and handouts here.

Until then, here is some existing educational material we like:

– PRISM Break, – A current list of security and privacy-oriented software projects and services.

– Press Freedom Foundation’s Encryption Works,

– EFF’s Surveillance Self-Defense,

– Cryptoparty Handbook,

– NSA surveillance: A guide to staying secure,

====== Contact Us ======

We need help! We need speakers both to teach users and explain to developers how to get started contributing. We need an A/V people to tape our training talks. We need an artist to help with our logo and promotional materials. We need event hosting locations, large enough for 50 people or more.

Sign up for our mailing list:

====== November Videos! ======


Embedding information is here – https://archive.org/help/video.php?identifier=t3am-seattle-nov2013

====== Possible Future Topics ======

February 17th – Seattle Meshnet

March 16th – Bitcoin/cryptocurrencies, 1-2 guest speakers. Let us know if you’d like to be one of them!

April – transparency/Freedom of Information Act

Copied for archiving from: https://wiki.openitp.org/events:techno-activism_3rd_mondays:january_2014