#ParoNacionalColombia and Digital Security Considerations for Police Brutality Protests

In the wake of Colombia’s tax reform proposal, which came as more Colombians fell into poverty as a result of the pandemic, demonstrations spread over the country in late April, reviving social unrest and socio-economic demands that led people to the streets in 2019.The government’s attempts to reduce public outcry by withdrawing the tax proposal to draft a new text did not work. Protests continue online and offline. Violent repression on the ground by police, and the military presence in Colombian cities, have raised concerns among national and international groups—from civil organizations across the globe to human rights bodies that are calling on the government to respect people’s constitutional rights to assemble and allow free expression on the Internet and the streets. Media has reported on government crackdowns against the protestors, including physical violence, missing persons, and deaths, seizing of phones and other equipment used to document protests, and police action, as well as internet disruptions and content restrictions or takedowns by online platforms.

As the turmoil and demonstrations continue, we’ve put together some useful resources from EFF and allies we hope can help those attending protests and using technology and the Internet to speak up, report, and organize. Please note that the authors of this post come from primarily U.S.- and Brazil-based experiences. The post is by no means comprehensive. We urge readers to be aware that protest circumstances change quickly; digital security risks, and their mitigation, can vary depending on your location and other contexts. 

This post has two sections covering resources for navigating protests and resources for navigating networks.

Resources for Navigating Protests

Resources for Navigating Network Issues

Resources for Navigating Protests

To attend protests safely, demonstrators need to consider many factors and threats: these range from protecting themselves from harassment and their own devices’ location tracking capabilities, to balancing the need to use technologies for documenting law enforcement brutality and disseminating information. Another consideration is using encryption to protect data and messages from unintended readers. Some resources that may be helpful are:

For Protestors (Colombia)

 For Bringing Devices to Protests

For Using Videos and Photos to Document Police Brutality, Protect Protesters’ Faces, and Scrub Metadata

Resources for Navigating Network Issues

What happens if the Internet is really slow, down altogether, or there’s some other problem keeping people from connecting online? What if social media networks remove or block content from being widely seen, and each platform has a different policy for addressing content issues? We’ve included some resources for understanding hindrances to sending messages and posts or connecting online. 

For Network and Platform Blockages (Colombia) 

For Network Censorship 

For Selecting a Circumvention Tool

If circumvention (not anonymity) is your primary goal for accessing and sending material online, the following resources might be helpful. Keep in mind that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are still able to see that you are using one of these tools (e.g. that you’re on a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or that you’re using Tor), but not where you’re browsing, nor the content of what you are accessing. 

VPNs

A few diagrams showing the difference between default connectivity to an ISP using a VPN and using Tor are included below (from the Understanding and Circumventing Network Censorship SSD guide).

 the request for eff.org passes through a router and ISP server on the way to the eff.org's server.

Your computer tries to connect to https://eff.org, which is at a listed IP address (the numbered sequence beside the server associated with EFF’s website). The request for that website is made and passed along to various devices, such as your home network router and your ISP, before reaching the intended IP address of https://eff.org. The website successfully loads for your computer.

 the request passes encrypted through the router, ISP's server, the VPN's server, before finally landing at eff.org's server.

In this diagram, the computer uses a VPN, which encrypts its traffic and connects to eff.org. The network router and ISP might see that the computer is using a VPN, but the data is encrypted. The ISP routes the connection to the VPN server in another country. This VPN then connects to the eff.org website.

Tor 

Digital security guide on using Tor Browser, which uses the volunteer-run Tor network, from Surveillance Self-Defense (EFF): How to: Use Tor on macOS (English), How to: Use Tor for Windows (English), How to: Use Tor for Linux (English), Cómo utilizar Tor en macOS (Español), Cómo Usar Tor en Windows (Español), Como usar Tor en Linux (Español)

 The request is encrypted and passes through the router, ISP server, three Tor servers, before landing at the intended eff.org server.

The computer uses Tor to connect to eff.org. Tor routes the connection through several “relays,” which can be run by different individuals or organizations all over the world. The final “exit relay” connects to eff.org. The ISP can see that you’re using Tor, but cannot easily see what site you are visiting. The owner of eff.org, similarly, can tell that someone using Tor has connected to its site, but does not know where that user is coming from.

For Peer-to-Peer Resources

Peer-to-Peer alternatives can be helpful during a shutdown or during network disruptions and include tools like the Briar App, as well as other creative uses such as Hong Kong protesters’ use of AirDrop on iOS devices.

For Platform Censorship and Content Takedowns

If your content is taken down from services like social media platforms, this guide may be helpful for understanding what might have happened, and making an appeal (Silenced Online): How to Appeal (English)

For Identifying Disinformation

Verifying the authenticity of information (like determining if the poster is part of a bot campaign, or if the information itself is part of a propaganda campaign) is tremendously difficult. Data & Society’s reports on the topic (English), and Derechos Digitales’ thread (Español) on what to pay attention to and how to check information might be helpful as a starting point. 

Need More Help?

For those on the ground who need digital security assistance, Access Now has a 24/7 Helpline for human rights defenders and folks at risk, which is available in English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, Tagalog, Arabic, and Italian. You can contact their helpline at https://www.accessnow.org/help/

Thanks to former EFF fellow Ana Maria Acosta for her contributions to this piece.

visit original source at eff.org



Categories: Electronic Frontier Foundation

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