Tech Tools for Activism

An introduction to this booklet

This booklet will help you to:

  • use email securely
  • publish news and upload media anonymously
  • make your web browsing more anonymous and secure
  • use Facebook and Twitter more securely
  • get organised online without relying on corporate social networking sites
  • use encrypted messaging on mobile phones
  • hide stuff on your computer so it can't be found
  • find a more secure and decentralised replacement for Twitter
  • support free software, open licences and decentralised/ federated communication.

Why this booklet is important:

This booklet provides an introduction to the effective use of technology for activism, with links to step-by-step guides and further information. It is written with a UK focus; we invite people to translate it to their own languages and cultures.

The tools discussed here could be of use to: 

  • journalists wanting to protect themselves and their sources
  • researchers investigating corporate and state wrong doing
  • NGOs, charities and campaign groups
  • local environmental or pressure groups
  • anyone communicating digitally who doesn't trust the authorities of tomorrow

Free Software and Free Network Services

Nearly all of the tools discussed in this booklet are free software based. Free software programmers dedicate millions of hours to writing virus-free, highly secure software that respects your privacy. You may already know Firefox, OpenOffice, and GNU/Linux operating systems such as Ubuntu and Mint Linux, which are used by hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

The free software we discuss is free to use; you can also see how it works, adapt it and redistribute it freely. These rights are protected in the software's license, usually the GPL (General Public License).  If you change and re-distribute free software, you must release your changes under the same license so that everyone benefits.

Free software is written by people who see software as inherently political, the goal to ensure that we retain control over our own information infrastructure.

"The long revolution is creating small federated microsocieties, true guerilla cells practising and fighting for this self-management. Effective radicality authorises all variations and guarantees every freedom." Raoul Vaneigem

The same philosophy can be applied to online network services - social networking and video sharing sites such as Facebook and YouTube. Many people are creating free network services which support federation and freedom for the information users contribute; these issues are explained in a talk by Eben Moglen, "Freedom in the Cloud".

Introduction to safer communication

Over the last two decades the information revolution has radically changed the way political activists communicate; but alongside the new opportunities, there remains the age-old problem of how to get information to your allies confidentialy. Using an alias (or aliases) is an equally old but still effective security technique.

As long as very few people know the connection between your online and real identities, it will not be easy to discover your identity if your alias is incriminated. This requires having an email provider who will not (or cannot) disclose your personal details if they are pressured by the police. Communicating securely is everyone's business. Even if your activism is currently legal, you can help make the internet safer for everyone and help the "open web" with some of these security practices.