How to Protest: Survival Tips

Safeguarding Your Digital Footprint

In today’s interconnected world, standing up for one’s beliefs and holding those in power accountable is more crucial than ever. Protests serve as a powerful medium for this. However, with the rise of digital surveillance, ensuring the safety of your electronic devices and digital assets becomes paramount. This article provides a comprehensive guide on how to protect your digital presence during protests, ensuring that your voice is heard without compromising your safety.

Digital Safety: Why It Matters

In the age of smartphones and the internet, every action leaves a digital trace. While attending protests, safeguarding your devices ensures that your experiences are documented and shared without interference. Risks include device theft, damage, potential confiscation, or even data deletion. Moreover, there’s an increasing risk of surveillance, which can track participants’ movements and associations. Remember, the following tips are general guidelines and not legal advice. For specific legal queries, always consult a professional attorney.

Pre-Protest Preparations

  • Device Encryption: Activate full-disk encryption on your devices. This encrypts all files, ensuring data protection even if the device is lost or confiscated. It’s different from in-transit encryption, which protects data shared over the internet.
  • Avoid Biometric Unlocks: While convenient, fingerprint or FaceID unlocks can be used against you. Authorities could force you to unlock your device. It’s safer to use traditional passcodes.
  • Communication: Use apps like Signal, which offer end-to-end encryption for both texts and calls. It also allows encrypted group chats and self-destructing messages.
  • Data Backups: Regularly back up your data. If your primary device is compromised, you’ll still have access to your essential data.
  • Disposable Phones: If you’re concerned about your primary device’s data, consider using a prepaid phone for the protest.
  • Dress Smartly: Blend in with the crowd. Wear similar clothing to others, opt for dark colors, and cover any distinct features like tattoos or unique hair colors.
  • Capture Moments Safely: Both Android and iOS allow photo and video capture without unlocking the device. However, always be respectful and avoid capturing identifiable faces without consent.
  • Metadata Management: Before sharing photos, remove metadata, which can reveal information like the device used, location, and even your name.

Traveling to the Protest

  • Driving: Automated License Plate Reader systems (ALPRs) can track vehicle movements. If you’re driving to the protest, be aware of this surveillance method.
  • Public Transit: If using public transit, avoid payment methods linked to your identity. Consider walking or cycling to minimize surveillance risks.
  • Phone Settings: Minimize location tracking by turning on airplane mode, disabling location services, WiFi, and Bluetooth. Android users should also disable Google location history.

If Detained or Arrested

In the unfortunate event of being detained, remember your rights. You have the right to remain silent and request an attorney. If asked to show your phone, clearly state that you do not consent to your device being searched.

Post-Protest Measures

  • Confiscated Devices: If your device is taken, consult with an attorney about retrieving it. If authorities access your device, they might use tools to extract data. Hence, always minimize stored data and use strong encryption.

While protests are a powerful tool for change, it’s essential to ensure your digital safety. By following these guidelines, you can make your voice heard while safeguarding your digital footprint.

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