In light of the continued American demonstrations in protest against the killing of George Floyd, an African citizen, many human rights organizations fear that the police will monitor the protests using all kinds of technology and spying equipment, as a drone (unmanned) flight of customs and border patrols has already been reported over Minneapolis protests.
Wired and Weiss Technology, and Wi-Fi, offer a number of tips that users can use to protect their privacy, whether in times of protests or any other time.
The secret is in your phone
The site says in a report entitled "How to protest safely in a time of censorship?" There are two main aspects to digital surveillance that you should be concerned about. One is the data that police can get from your phone if you are detained, arrested, or your device is confiscated, and the other is cameras and surveillance software, which can include wireless interception of text messages, tracking tools such as dashboard scanners and facial recognition.
In this context, another report, published by the Weiss website, says, "How do you protest without sacrificing your digital identity?" The most important decision to make before leaving the house to protest is whether you want to take your phone. The smartphone broadcasts all kinds of identification information, and law firms can compel the mobile operator to provide them with data about your identity.
The report states that the US police use smart phone surveillance devices via dialing towers, or international mobile card identifiers known as IMSI, which impersonate cell towers and trick all phones in a specific area to contact them. This could give policemen a mobile phone subscriber identification number to every person in protest at a certain time.
"The device in your pocket will definitely give information that can be used to identify you," says Harlow Holmes' newsroom security director at Freedom Press.
For this reason, Holmes suggests that protesters who want to hide their identities leave their primary phone at home. If you need a coordination phone or as a way to call friends or a lawyer in an emergency, turn it off as much as possible to reduce the chances of connecting to a fake telecom tower or a "Wi-Fi hotspot" that is used by the police.
A few digital security tips for #protesters. Disable face / fingerprint unlock. Use a 6+ digit passcode, alphanumeric codes are even better. Don't consent to searches of your devices. Do not unlock your device for police. Use @signalapp to communicate with each other. #protest
- Jerome D. Greco (@JeromeDGreco) May 29, 2020
Bag and spare phone
The report advises protesters, to ensure that their phones are not tracked, to keep them in the Faraday bag, which prohibits all radio communications. And open the bag only when necessary.
They also advise them, if they need a mobile device, to consider bringing a secondary mobile phone. It is likely that your main smartphone will have most of your accounts and digital data on it, all of which the police can access if they seize your phone.
Although any backup phone you buy will not help you to hide your identity, as some prepaid phones require identification information, so Holmes recommends using SIM cards from American companies that do not require contracts such as TRACphone and Mint Mobile.
Traditional calls and text messages are monitored. That is why the report says that protesters need to use full end-to-end encryption. The protester and those who communicate with them should use hidden messages that self-delete after a few hours or days.
Signal's encrypted messaging and calling app is the best app in this field, but other apps like Wireickie offer many similar features. Just be sure that you and the people you communicate with are using the app itself.
The report also says that regardless of your operating system, you should always take care to protect devices with strong passwords instead of fingerprint or unlock face unlock.
If you insist on using biometric unlock methods to gain faster access to your devices, you can use an emergency function to disable them when needed.
Reports on the website of Weird and Weiss warned the protesters against using social media during the protest, as this content is sure to be used to identify the protesters and track their effects.
Files that protesters upload to social media may contain metadata such as time stamps and location information that can help police track crowds and movement.
One of the tips says that you should make sure you have permission to shoot or record video of any fellow protesters who can be identified in your published content on the media. Think carefully before the live broadcast.
Alle Funk, a research analyst at Freedom House, a pro-democracy foundation, advises protesters not to plan to post photos or videos to social media or to share them in any other way, as these images may fall into the hands of the police.