Berhan Taye: Hello. Hi! Wow, it’s…very bright up here, if you’re won­der­ing. Hi every­one. Maybe I’ll just give you like two min­utes for peo­ple to set­tle down. Okay. Great. So my name is Berhan Taye. I define myself as a pub­lic inter­est tech researcher that inves­ti­gates the inter­sec­tion of tech­nol­o­gy and social jus­tice, most­ly focus­ing on cen­sor­ship and sur­veil­lance, and the vicious cycle of those two. I also work with Access Now. I lead the #KeepItOn cam­paign, which is a cam­paign that fights against cen­sor­ship and surveillance. 

So today’s con­ver­sa­tion, as I’m sure you were able to tell from the title, is the vicious cycle of cen­sor­ship and sur­veil­lance. How big tech com­pa­nies, small ones, and those ones in between—telcos—are in the process of sup­port­ing and aid­ing gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance [to] cen­sor the major­i­ty. I’m gonna try to end this con­ver­sa­tion around the twen­ti­eth minute, so that you guys can have some time to ask ques­tions. I would also love to hear how you’ve been sur­veilled and cen­sored by big tech com­pa­nies like me and my friends. 

Great. So, I’m going to start with telling a sto­ry about a friend of mine. A friend of mine has been arrest­ed a few times in the past five years. He was arrest­ed not because he was a hard­core crim­i­nal, no. It’s because he he had decid­ed to speak when the major­i­ty of us were very scared of speak­ing. He was arrest­ed because he wrote when the major­i­ty of us could not even find our pens to write with. He decid­ed to chal­lenge the sta­tus quo and ques­tion the gov­ern­men­t’s nar­ra­tive when many of us were too scared to even come out of our hid­ing, let alone chal­lenge them. 

So for this hero­ic action of his, he was arrest­ed, beat­en, and tor­tured. And this is the usu­al stuff that hap­pens to you when you’re a dis­si­dent, or were a dis­si­dent in Ethiopia. We have a new gov­ern­ment now where…we’re not sure if they’re demo­c­ra­t­ic or not. 

So, along with being arrest­ed, beat­en, and tortured—I think those are real­ly impor­tant things to stress on, the gov­ern­ment was very metic­u­lous in silenc­ing him offline and mak­ing sure that he was also silent online. The gov­ern­ment nor­mal­ly would for instance ban print­ing press­es from print­ing news­pa­pers. But they were also very care­ful in mak­ing sure that your blogs were blocked, your web sites were blocked. So you’d have berhan​.blog​post​.com; that would be blocked. And then you’d have berhan1.blogpost.—they’re just busy there, sit­ting there just block­ing. So you just have to kind of give up at some point, and many of us did. 

The last time my friend was in prison was in March 2018. A new gov­ern­ment has come, as I told you, and he’s been out of prison since then. And many of us are actually…quite weird with the fact that you know, we’re not going to prison to vis­it him. It’s such a bizarre thing because we’d spend much of our Sundays, our Saturdays going to go see him. 

For him and for many like him, he had depend­ed on Facebook and Twitter to speak, because when your blogs are blocked, your social media is your tool and so Facebook and Twitter are blocked. And those tools I mean, we all have to sort of under­stand were the only source of vent­ing for many of us. And speak­ing was almost impos­si­ble and you’d have to pay for it. 

So one after­noon August 2018, I remem­ber we were hang­ing out and he was fran­ti­cal­ly typing—he has this way of typ­ing, it’s real­ly inter­est­ing, he types like my grand­fa­ther. And he want­ed to post a spe­cif­ic blog that he had writ­ten about the new gov­ern­ment and how he was chal­leng­ing the sta­tus quo—as always. Once he’s done he tried to post it on Facebook, it did­n’t work. He tried again…it did­n’t work. And we were like okay, this is weird. Or like, Oh, log off that wifi. Try the new wifi.” It also did­n’t work. I was like, Okay, maybe it’s your com­put­er. Try my com­put­er.” It also did­n’t work with my computer. 

So we were like okay. And then final­ly we were able to see when we paid atten­tion, there was a ban­ner that used to come up and it said— Every time he tried to post it would­n’t stick, and it read along these lines: You’re not allowed to post because you vio­lat­ed the terms and con­di­tions’ of our com­mu­ni­ty stan­dards.” That was quite bizarre to many of us. Because we did not under­stand what that meant. I know what Facebook’s terms and con­di­tions are. You’re not sup­posed to be vio­lent, you’re sup­posed to give voice, blah blah blah, blah blah—we’ve all read those things. But it felt quite arbi­trary, and we did not under­stand what was hap­pen­ing at that moment. 

So as a per­son that claims to study the sur­veil­lance state and how the sur­veil­lance state struc­ture works, I can pret­ty con­fi­dent­ly tell you that I under­stand how the sur­veil­lance state works. I can guess with some accu­ra­cy which part of the intel­li­gence would be tasked with block­ing con­tent, fil­ter­ing, and block­ing web sites. I also can… Well, not with this new gov­ern­ment but the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment, I can tell you which spe­cif­ic build­ing the intel­li­gence that does this work is in. And for lack of a bet­ter word, I can say I under­stand how the sys­tem works. I can feel it, I can touch it, there are peo­ple behind it. And those peo­ple tech­ni­cal­ly look like me, they speak the same lan­guage. They’re most­ly men but you know, they’re not white men, is what I’m try­ing to say. You can def­i­nite­ly tell what would trig­ger a gov­ern­ment to block your web site and to block your blogs. So we would play around those terms and play around those things to make sure that our web sites and con­tent were not blocked. 

But when it comes to being cen­sored on Facebook, it’s trau­ma­tiz­ing and retrau­ma­tiz­ing at the same time because many of us did not under­stand why Facebook was block­ing the spe­cif­ic con­tent. And why accounts of activists were being blocked. My friend, who’s a legit­i­mate activist that did not vio­late any of the terms and con­di­tions that Facebook had set out for us, there was no evi­dence of him vio­lat­ing all of those things and it just did­n’t make sense to many of us. One could also attribute this obvi­ous mis­take that was made by Facebook to the troll armies of the gov­ern­ment. But the troll armies were not work­ing that sea­son,” as I’ve told you, because we have a new and demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­ern­ment. And as much as we under­stand, the sur­veil­lance state was try­ing to restruc­ture itself, so that trolls were out of work for that moment. And we had peo­ple to ver­i­fy that. 

And at that spe­cif­ic moment, many of us felt like the cen­sor­ship of the state struc­ture had crept into the Facebook struc­ture as well and the social media plat­forms. And what made the cen­sor­ship dif­fi­cult to grap­ple with was that it was very dif­fi­cult to reach, and for many of us very dif­fi­cult to under­stand. The same struc­tures that gov­erned Facebook were far away from reach for many of us, and my friend had to reach out to the orga­ni­za­tion that I work for, Access Now’s Digital Security Helpline, to resolve this issue. And until today, Facebook has not told us why his account was blocked or why his con­tent was blocked. And we need­ed some­one to medi­ate between us and them. And not many peo­ple even have access to Access Now, or speak the lan­guage that the staff of Access Now speak. 

Unfortunately this is not unique to my friend, and I’m sure many peo­ple in this crowd will be able to share this sto­ry if they’re not from this part of the world. This is com­mon across the world; hap­pens in Vietnam and in many oth­er places. One activist for instance was blocked six­teen times in two weeks. The rea­son Facebook gave was that he was post­ing too much. So, that might be a legit­i­mate rea­son based on how you see it. But who gets to decide what too much is, and what terms and con­di­tions did we agree to that? Those are ques­tions that have not been answered for many of us. This and many oth­er sit­u­a­tions have forced many of us that are at the mar­gins to see Facebook cen­sor­ship to be con­tin­u­ing where gov­ern­ments end. 

Moving this con­ver­sa­tion away maybe from social media plat­forms, let’s talk about the roles of telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion ser­vice providers and Internet ser­vice providers in many parts of the world where it’s not Europe or North America. Where you and I are gath­ered here today, for instance, the issue that you might have with your ser­vice provider, whether it’s Vodaphone tele­com or the oth­er providers that you might have in your homes, your issue might be intel­li­gence agen­cies hav­ing back­door” access to our data, or your data, and your data being used to pros­e­cute and cen­sor some. And there might be a…mmm, court order some­where in between, depend­ing on your lev­el of ter­ror­is­tic abil­i­ties. As they would define it. 

Where I come from and where the rest of the world is, the issue’s not intel­li­gence agen­cies hav­ing back­door access to our data. Yes, they do have back­door access to our data, but they also have front door access to our data. What this means is that they use the infor­ma­tion pro­vid­ed unlaw­ful­ly by tech com­pa­nies, tele­coms, ISPs, to silence the major­i­ty in places like Ethiopia, Sudan, Gambia, Venezuela, Uganda, and many—I can con­tin­ue to list many coun­tries. Intelligence agen­cies are embed­ded with­in the tele­com com­pa­nies’ Internet ser­vice providers. What this means is that some­one from the intel­li­gence agen­cies most like­ly will have a desk, and an office, inside these tech com­pa­nies,” the tele­com ser­vice providers, hav­ing access to most users’ infor­ma­tion, like me. 

So when the intel­li­gence agen­cies are uneth­i­cal­ly and ille­gal­ly embed­ded with­in these com­pa­nies, my ques­tion to you is how can we even start a con­ver­sa­tion about data pro­tec­tion and the need for a court war­rant, when many of these issues arise with­in the sys­tem and we’re unable to tame that pow­er that they have. These men—mostly they’re men, the intel­li­gence agents that are based with­in the tele­com companies—are sit­ting behind screens that show them the live loca­tion of their tar­get. That show them mes­sage con­ver­sa­tions you’ve had with your infor­mants, and they also have access to many per­va­sive and pri­vate infor­ma­tion of users. So, this might not mat­ter to you if you’re you know, an ordi­nary cit­i­zen” that has noth­ing to hide,” but if you’re an activist, a jour­nal­ist, an oppo­si­tion figure…or some­one that is vocal against the gov­ern­ment, this is obvi­ous­ly some­thing you’ll wor­ry about. 

Users like me are often unable to choose oth­er ser­vice providers, because the same uneth­i­cal stan­dards apply to all. For instance, the for­mer head of intel­li­gence of Sudan is cur­rent­ly the head of one of the Internet ser­vice providers. So, you tell me what sort of con­ver­sa­tion am I sup­posed to have with him about data pro­tec­tion and pri­va­cy when he’s actu­al­ly the core of the struc­ture that sur­veil­lance and cen­sors activists, and kills activists and does many hor­ri­ble things. 

These tele­coms and ISPs we’re talk­ing about are not just the local ones that are owned by these gov­ern­ments. They’re also the tele­com ser­vice providers that pro­vide you ser­vices here. Vodafone for instance has many sub­sidiaries in the African con­ti­nent: MTN, Airtel, and many oth­ers. So this conversation…they just seem to have dou­ble stan­dards that work for some and that don’t work for some. These com­pa­nies have become part and par­cel of the sur­veil­lance and cen­sor­ship struc­ture of the world. 

In addi­tion to insti­tu­tion­al­iz­ing the struc­tures of the state, these com­pa­nies play a sig­nif­i­cant role in silenc­ing the major­i­ty. You might ask why, or how. For instance, when gov­ern­ments do not like what you’re talk­ing about, how you’re orga­niz­ing online and tak­ing that to the offline space, they will often turn off your Internet. That’s very com­mon where I come from. So Internet shut­downs for instance hap­pen dur­ing elec­tions, dur­ing protests, or when you’re orga­niz­ing to call for protests. Just this week Sri Lanka, Benin, Gabon last week, Sudan, Philippines—many have shut down the Internet. 

And you might be ask­ing what is the role of tele­coms and Internet ser­vice providers in shut­ting down the Internet. They’re the ones that pro­vide you your access to the Internet, and they’re the ones that switch it off. 

So, you might also say that you know, tele­coms need to abide by the nation­al laws that gov­ern them. So for instance if they’re in Denmark they need to fol­low the rules of Denmark. If there in Germany or Gabon, they need to fol­low all of these rules. They also need to make money—that’s the impor­tant part. But how­ev­er, to what extent should they fol­low the rules even if the rules and the laws and actions are silenc­ing the major­i­ty? To what extent do these com­pa­nies think about the roles they direct­ly and indi­rect­ly play in silenc­ing and sur­veilling many of us? 

For instance let’s look at the recent case of Sudan and the protests that had hap­pened. For many of us that live very close to Sudan and have watched the many things hap­pen in Sudan for the past thir­ty years, we did­n’t see the rev­o­lu­tion that came, so in December 2018, peo­ple were frus­trat­ed over prices of fuel and bread and start­ed protest­ing, and have been protest­ing for the past five months. They’ve removed a thirty-year-old dic­ta­tor­ship, and they’re in tran­si­tion. And of course the first thing that hap­pened when that rev­o­lu­tion start­ed was the gov­ern­ment decid­ed to turn off social media platforms. 

So social media plat­forms def­i­nite­ly play a great role in pro­vid­ing access to infor­ma­tion and pro­vid­ing vital infor­ma­tion nec­es­sary dur­ing these kinds of rev­o­lu­tions. But they also give impor­tant voice to activists, jour­nal­ists, and to ordi­nary cit­i­zens. However, in their effort to give voic­es, and the ways that they’ve dis­re­gard­ed cer­tain design tweaks, they’ve also con­tributed to silenc­ing some people. 

So, when hun­dreds and thou­sands of peo­ple in the streets of Khartoum, Sudan went out to the streets, the gov­ern­ment as I said blocked social media and many of us that were orga­niz­ing to make sure that they had access to social media, we were like, use vir­tu­al proxy net­works. You would be able to bypass the cen­sor­ship that is hap­pen­ing right now. So of course, in nor­mal cir­cum­stances that would be an obvi­ous thing to sug­gest to peo­ple. And we did, with­out real­ly real­iz­ing some of the impli­ca­tions using vir­tu­al proxy net­works might have. 

So for instance, when peo­ple were try­ing to log onto Twitter using vir­tu­al proxy net­works, or VPNs, Twitter thought that some­one had hacked into their account because it was being used from maybe Ukraine, or like the US, or Canada, when they’re actu­al­ly sit­ting in Sudan. So obvi­ous­ly Twitter blocked these guys and asked them to recon­firm themselves. 

However, the way that Twitter was ask­ing peo­ple in Sudan to ver­i­fy their accounts and gain access back to their accounts was the stan­dard” method that they would use to ask you and I. So what would nor­mal­ly hap­pen is that you’d be asked to ver­i­fy your account, your pass­word, your email, and then you’ll be able to put in a phone num­ber so that you can have a two-factor iden­ti­fi­ca­tion. So every time you log on using a VPN, you’d get a text on your phone. But if you’re in Sudan, you won’t be able to add your phone num­ber on Twitter because Twitter does not nec­es­sar­i­ly rec­og­nize that either the coun­try Sudan does­n’t exist or they don’t think that they have phone num­bers to put in. 

So what hap­pened was that peo­ple did­n’t have phon—when they scrolled through the list, there was nowhere you can see Sudan and put your num­bers and get that ver­i­fi­ca­tion num­ber to ver­i­fy your­self. So by default peo­ple were exclud­ed from hav­ing access to social media. What that also meant was that when we sug­gest­ed for them to use vir­tu­al proxy net­works, we by default also were forc­ing them to be exclud­ed from that con­ver­sa­tion. This design choice—or dis­re­gard, whichev­er way you want to see it—meant that many were unable to con­nect to Twitter dur­ing Internet shut­downs. And what was a bit more painful for many of us that where on the oth­er side try­ing to get infor­ma­tion out of Sudan was that we know many of these peo­ple that were try­ing to reach out to us were try­ing to con­nect and show us the exces­sive use of force by law enforce­ment agents on the streets of Khartoum. On that spe­cif­ic week that I’m talk­ing about around six­ty peo­ple had been killed by the police. 

So the ques­tion here is for me, who makes the choice to exclude by design or by choice? Is this because Sudan is not impor­tant in terms of…or Sudan is not seen in terms of Twitter— Like, who made that deci­sion where Sudan was not on the list, or oth­er coun­tries were not on the list. And these are not the con­ver­sa­tions that we’re allowed to ask Twitter or any oth­ers, because they’re very very far off in San Francisco, I’ve been told. 

So far we’ve talked about the role of Facebook and how it cen­sors. The role of tele­coms and ISPs. And how they sup­port gov­ern­ments in one way or anoth­er whether they like it or not in cen­sor­ing and sur­veilling cit­i­zens. However, we talked about Sudan, Ethiopia, Gambia, Gabon, Uganda, and many oth­er coun­tries. What we also must under­stand is that these coun­tries are not try­ing to hide that they’re sur­veilling us. They’ve also bought sur­veil­lance tech, machines, mal­wares, soft­wares, what­ev­er you call it. So I’m sure many of us are famil­iar with the sur­veil­lance tech com­pa­nies like NSO Group, the hack­ing team Cyberbit, and oth­ers. We all might agree that you know, these dif­fer­ent kinds of sur­veil­lance tech com­pa­nies are cre­at­ed for anoth­er pur­pose. But these gov­ern­ments of ours have bought these soft­wares and we know that there’s clear foren­sic evi­dence that they’re used to sur­veil peo­ple that look like me, peo­ple that are activist, peo­ple that are orga­niz­ing in one way or anoth­er to chal­lenge the sta­tus quo. So the fact that they’re try­ing to sur­veil us is not a new top­ic to us. We all under­stand, it was just a con­fir­ma­tion that they would go out of their way to make sure that they have con­trol of every­thing that we do. 

So the sur­veil­lance state in the way that it’s struc­tured is aid­ed by big and small tech com­pa­nies that con­tin­u­ous­ly work to sur­veil and cen­sor us. So I want to also push this con­ver­sa­tion a bit fur­ther to what is not maybe nec­es­sar­i­ly obvi­ous, and the issue of how gov­ern­ments are also cen­sor­ing and sur­veilling peo­ple in many dif­fer­ent ways that are not maybe access­ing our data directly. 

So let’s talk about the issue of manda­to­ry SIM card reg­is­tra­tion. To be hon­est with you, it’s a com­plete waste of time. The oth­er day I want­ed to get a SIM card here and I had to show my pass­port, go to the shop. Like, we all have at some point agreed that we’re all crim­i­nals before we’re proven not to be so I don’t under­stand how that sys­tem works. So it’s sad that you also have it here. But for instance in Nigeria or Uganda, if you want to get a SIM card, you’d need to go and give your bio­met­rics. So what bio­met­rics means is that you have to go give your fin­ger­print to the same tele­com ser­vice providers that often have a stroll-through-the-front door pol­i­cy with the intel­li­gence agencies. 

Again, in the Nigerian con­text, in the Togolese con­text, we know that if you want to have a nation­al ID or a nation­al ID card, you need to give your fin­ger­print and iris copy, which I’ve been told is the fin­ger­prints of your eyes. And these gov­ern­ments are in the process of con­sol­i­dat­ing these databases—the one that you’re using to get your SIM cards, the one that you’re using to get your bio­met­ric information—and cre­at­ing a Big Brother”-style data­base that would give gov­ern­ments access to many data­bas­es about citizens. 

Many of our gov­ern­ments for instance are installing CCTV cam­eras, which is almost two decades after many of you got CCTV cam­eras in this part of the world. But what we don’t know is that we don’t know who has access to those cam­eras, or most impor­tant­ly what capa­bil­i­ties those cam­eras have. We’ve recent­ly heard and learned that the gov­ern­ment of Zimbabwe has gra­cious­ly vol­un­teered to train the Chinese com­pa­ny’s AI to learn the dif­fer­ent shades and faces of black faces. So what that means is that now the AI machines and the facial recog­ni­tion sys­tems that are unable to tell black faces” would would be more accu­rate” in telling those faces, it seems. 

So in a way to sum up, big and small tech com­pa­nies and those in between, by design or by choice, aid gov­ern­ments [to] sur­veil and cen­sor their major­i­ty. Telecommunications ser­vice providers, Internet ser­vice providers and oth­ers have become part and par­cel of the state struc­tures in many of the places that I come from, often pro­vid­ing front door access to law enforce­ment agen­cies and sur­veil­lance agen­cies. So your GDPR in this con­text does­n’t work. 

Before I con­clude I want to share one sto­ry with you again about a friend of mine who was also a well-known jour­nal­ist in Ethiopia and at some point want­ed by the intel­li­gence offi­cers. He was lucky enough to be tipped by some­one with­in the sys­tem that he has been under sur­veil­lance for a few months and that they’re plan­ning to bring him in for ques­tion­ing in a few days. We all know—or maybe we all don’t know, I’ve been told, that if you’re brought in for ques­tion­ing,” there’s a high prob­a­bil­i­ty that you might not be allowed to leave the police sta­tion for the next few years. And if you’re lucky and well enough you know, and if CPJ and oth­ers can speak on your behalf, you might see a judge in the third or fourth month after you’ve been in prison. 

So like many— I mean it was quite a right deci­sion, he decid­ed not to take the risk and fled the coun­try. As most peo­ple would do in Ethiopia, he fled through Kenya first. What we’re all nos­tal­gic about those days—this hap­pened six years ago now—is that the immi­gra­tion offi­cers were not able to iden­ti­fy him when he crossed the bor­der. Which meant that the bio­met­rics col­lect­ed at immi­gra­tion or pass­port con­trol were not con­sol­i­dat­ed with the ones for nation­al iden­ti­fi­ca­tion. They were not con­sol­i­dat­ed with those ones that were col­lect­ed at police sta­tions. And were not con­sol­i­dat­ed with the ones used for SIM cards. He was able to flee unde­tect­ed because prob­a­bly the nation­al intel­li­gence offi­cer that was tasked with his case” did not yet write the immi­gra­tion depart­ment a let­ter hav­ing him blacklisted. 

So when those data­bas­es are all con­sol­i­dat­ed, when they’re able to take the pic­tures we gave to get our SIM cards, and be able to match them to the protest that we were at, that day the vicious cycle of cen­sor­ship and sur­veil­lance will become a full cir­cle. And the big and small tech com­pa­nies and tel­cos will be at the cen­ter of it. Thank you. 


Moderator: So are there any ques­tions? Please raise your hand and I’ll come to your seat. 

Audience 1: So hi. Thanks very much for your talk. And thank you for men­tion­ing the case of Venezuela. We’re hav­ing a real­ly com­pli­cat­ed issue with dig­i­tal rights right now. So I want­ed to ask you if you knew any case in which peo­ple fig­ured out how to break the cycle some­how. If you know any case that maybe has inspired you and oh, this is maybe a way. 

Taye: Yeah. The only way that we’ve seen we’ve been able to break the cycle is by upping our dig­i­tal secu­ri­ty. So using Faraday bags has real­ly helped us orga­nize. Faraday bags are bags that you could use to put in your phone and would not be able to track you and all— So the some of the dig­i­tal secu­ri­ty tools and the con­tex­tu­al­iza­tion that we’ve done to many of the tools” that have been giv­en to us were the only ones that were able to sort of save us from this vicious cycle of cen­sor­ship and sur­veil­lance. And I could sug­gest some tools and peo­ple that you can talk to about that.

Moderator: Here’s anoth­er question.

Audience 2: What’s the response of the social net­works like Twitter? Because from my naïve Western per­spec­tive I mean, Twitter got big dur­ing the Arab Spring because they made it pos­si­ble that peo­ple could orga­nize protests. So I think they have an inter­est in sup­port­ing peo­ple which want to use it to organize. 

Taye: To be hon­est we… No, we haven’t heard any­thing back from Twitter on that. And they still haven’t put the num­ber for Sudan on the list. So, to be very hon­est with you I tech­ni­cal­ly have giv­en up. Unless we make finan­cial sense to these com­pa­nies I don’t think we mat­ter to them. So. Yeah. 

Moderator: Is there anoth­er question?

Audience 3: I’d love to know like, how is…or how fre­quent or like how com­mon is the usage of like end-to-end encrypt­ed net­works or like, mes­sen­ger ser­vices, etc. For exam­ple in the case of Ethiopia like, do you prop­a­gate that? Is that some­thing that makes a lot of sense? I mean I get it that it does­n’t replace like social net­works. But at least like, secure com­mu­ni­ca­tion that’s not track­able… Yeah, just would love to hear more about that.

Taye: Yeah, that’s a great ques­tion. So the prob­lem that we have with using secure net­works like Tor and oth­ers is that if there are 20 mil­lion Internet users in your coun­try and it’s only twen­ty peo­ple that are using it…you’re not being anony­mous in any way. So that’s some of the prob­lems that we’re hav­ing. So for instance for Signal we’ve been telling peo­ple like— All of the peo­ple in my fam­i­ly for instance have down­loaded Signal. Not because they need it, it’s just to make sure that more peo­ple are using it. 

So yes, so it helps. But the prob­lem is that, espe­cial­ly when you’re also using those secure encrypt­ed net­works is that okay, let’s say I’m using PGP or GPG—whichev­er one. The minute that the intel­li­gence officers—when they take you in and you’re being ques­tioned and they know that you have this…when you’re being tor­tured you’ll give out your pass­words. So in some con­texts it also makes it extreme­ly dan­ger­ous for you to use those tools, because they feel like you’re hid­ing some­thing. So it depends on the con­text and in some of our work we don’t advo­cate for oth­ers to use that, espe­cial­ly if your net­work is actu­al­ly monitored.

Audience 4: Thank you so much for your talk. I have a ques­tion. So you talked a lot about the dan­gers of tech­nol­o­gy, and espe­cial­ly social media. But don’t you also— Like per­son­al­ly, I always con­sid­er it as some­thing pos­i­tive, espe­cial­ly relat­ed to the Arab Spring. So do you also see some kind of oppor­tu­ni­ty not only in tech­nol­o­gy but like espe­cial­ly in social media? Thank you.

Taye: Yes, there are many uses for social media. And yeah I think that’s pret­ty obvi­ous. It’s just that every­body’s try­ing to sort of feed us that dig­i­tal­iza­tion tech­nol­o­gy’s gonna save us and make us all…not poor. So I… We could have a con­ver­sa­tion about that, but I don’t think this is the plat­form that I want to talk about how social media has helped peo­ple, to be honest. 

Moderator: Okay, thank you very much.

Taye: Awesome. Thanks.

Further Reference

Session page


Help Support Open Transcripts

If you found this useful or interesting, please consider supporting the project monthly at Patreon or once via Cash App, or even just sharing the link. Thanks.