OpSec for activists

"We caught up with Malkia Cyril, founder and executive director of the group, to talk about organizing, digital privacy, and what comes next for Defend Our Movements. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Where did the idea for Defend Our Movements come from and how was it put together?

We got together with May First/People Link, which is a technology group within our national network, the Media Action Grassroots Network. We came up with this idea because the environment we’re in right now under Trump is particularly devastating to the democratic rights of people of color. We wanted to make a site that specifically responded to the security needs of racial justice advocates across races, but specifically activists of color.

One of the things that we care very much about is high-tech criminalization: the use of technology in the digital age to criminalize — to profile, to police, and to punish — communities of color. Examples include the use of electronic monitors to shift the location but not the conditions of incarceration; expanding police technologies like body-worn cameras, drones, license plate readers, and facial recognition software; and federal surveillance programs, like the FBI’s [recent] expansion of a program called the Black Identity Extremists Program. At the same time, ICE is using technology to track down undocumented people in the same way slaves were once tracked: Arresting them, breaking down their families, deporting them."