[Event announcement] India Localization Sprint 2020

While working with various communities in India we have identified a number of unmet needs when it comes to basic security tools and practices. The language barrier is key access issue for users across India, particularly those who are parts of marginalized groups.

Often the assumption is that localization into Hindi and/or English will suffice for users across India. Most users do in fact access tech in Hindi or English, however neither language is the first language of the majority of the population. While users are able to generally navigate mobile phones and desktops in a second language, they do not necessarily understand how these technologies work, the privacy and security risks associated with them, and tactics for accessing the open internet.

In order to ensure broader adoption of basic security tools and practices – and as importantly, to ensure individuals fully understand the “why” and “how” of these tools and practices – The Bachchao Project has chosen to localize:

  • one basic digital hygiene guide : We are localizing Safe Sisters, developed in Uganda by Internews and Defend Defenders for female internet users. This guide provide a simple necessary steps that can be taken by women human rights defenders, journalists and activists to safeguard themselves.
  • two tools for secure messaging and uninhibited internet access: Signal is an highly recommended secure messaging application used by people across the globe and Psiphon is a reputed virtual private network software that works towards uninhibited internet access.
  • one tool for secure documentation : (Tella) is a secure documentation software for human rights workers, journalists and activists.

While India and the rest of the world continue to struggle through a global health crisis, there is a need to collaborate, convene and build networks in safe ways. In order to achieve the lofty goals of localizing tools and/or resources The Bachchao Project and Localization Lab propose a virtual localization sprint to take place over the course of 2 weekends (28th and 29th November, 5th and 6th December). Hosting 4-5 hour blocks of training, localization discussion and collaboration as well as feedback sessions on both Saturday and Sunday, with offline or chat localization collaboration before and after sessions.

This sprint will be held by The Bachchao Project and Localization Lab and is supported by Random Hacks of Kindness India and DataMeet.

If you are a translator or are simply interested to contribute to the localization of these tools and practices in your language. Please sign up for this event here

Here is the wikipage for the event with more details : https://wiki.localizationlab.org/index.php/India_Localization_Sprint_2020


About The Bachchao Project

The Bachchao Project is a techno-feminist collective that undertakes community-centric efforts to develop and support open source technologies and technical frameworks with the goals of mitigating gender-based violence and working towards equal rights for women, LGBTQIA people, and gender non-conforming groups. We conduct research and advocacy in all the above areas and guide communities in determining appropriate technological interventions for themselves.
Website: http://thebachchaoproject.org
Twitter:  @bachchaoproject

About Localization Lab

Localization Lab builds bridges between developers, organizations, end users, and communities in need. Our crowdsourced localization results in more accurate and timely translations, and unlocks access to the internet for users all over the world

Website: https://www.localizationlab.org/
Twitter: @L10nLab


For inquiries about this event please write to  Chinmayi S K: chinmayi@thebachchaoproject.org

Janta Parliament – Technology and Surveillance

Article 21 and Rethink Aadhar organised Janta Parliament on Technology and Surveillance ,On 18 August 2020. Chinmayi SK was invited to participate and put forward policy suggestions on Technology and Surveillance.

Chinmayi spoke about the issues of access to the Internet and contributed the following policy suggestions.

  1. Ensure free and equitable access to telecommunications, Internet and other modes of communication services across the length and breadth of the country though suitable policy and budgetary allocations
  2. Ensure that any restriction in access to telecommunication, internet and communication services be made in a transparent manner, only for a limited period of time, complying with principles of compelling necessity and proportionality, periodically tested for review and in the least rights restrictive manner


The video of the full discussion can be found here  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bszYmUyY0M&t=9104s

Tweetchat: Love in the time of lockdown

Love, intimacy and sexual experiences may be hard to navigate even in times when there are no constraints. They are especially difficult when there is a pandemic and one is confined to one’s place of living. Fortunately, for some of us there are digital platforms to help us navigate these experiences.

Hidden Pockets and The Bachchao Project hosted a tweetchat on April 17, 2020, where we attempted to answer some questions asked around these interactions online. Here is a collection of our tweets in conversation:


Do you feel safe knowing your dating life might not be secure after all?





21 votes · Final results


Feeling safe by not feeling secure?

See new Tweets


Something I wrote about it a few years ago:

Sex, Lies and the Perils of Facebook Dating – EroTICs India Short of digital abstinence, is there a way to use the Internet’s liberating power to circumvent sexual and social taboos and still stay safe?

“The most difficult aspect to control, however, is the kind and volume of information shared. Would someone in the throes of passion, love or infatuation pause to think that the headers in her emails and the EXIF data from her selfies contain enough data that could be mined to get her location and personal details? The online medium often takes away inhibitions

“Finding love and sex on the Internet has always meant walking the razor’s edge between the joy of intimacy and running into harm. Short of digital abstinence, is there a way to use the Internet’s liberating power to circumvent sexual and social taboos and still stay safe?”


How important is consent when it comes to conversations on online dating and what does consent look like in online dating ?


Digital Consent as a subject is something we are still struggling with. We still get confused about what exactly amounts to a Yes.


Consent is still understood in black and white manner in the legal sense, but digital spaces makes it grey 🙂


Consent is a basic right. Everyone needs to feel safe regardless of the nature and age of the relationship.


Resources : 


Here is a short video by the Thames Valley Police on understanding consent:



A friend and I wrote this bit about sexual consent as part of a learning module: 



Online platforms, be it dating app or a photo editing app, they #demand consent. If they ask consent to access my gallery, SMS, email ,etc and if I am not okay with just one of that, I will still be unable to use their service. So how is that even consent?


Temporary app permissions can be granted in Android 10. Otherwise the bouncer can be used on earlier versions to grant temporary permissions. It is paid.



How does one choose a platform to have a conversation ? What are the checks one can make while shifting platforms? 


Choosing a platform for secure messaing, video calls etc can be tough, especially during the lockdowns. Not all of us have have equal access: internet speeds, bandwidth, devices with hardware capabilities and necessary software.

However, some basic rules:

  1. The user interface of the app/ platform should be usable for you and the person(s) you’re texting/ calling.
  2. It should have adjustable privacy settings & preferably support the option to not leave a trail, set a timer on the messages etc.

This may be a bit daunting for the layperson: but try to read the privacy policy before downloading an app. If there is no privacy policy or no info about the app storing, retaining or deleting your data, or the definitions are overbroad, run away from it.

If you cannot make sense of the privacy policy or determine if it’s good for you, try to find out what trusted digital security and privacy experts have written or said about the app/ platform/ software.

Avoid using private messages on social media websites for the purpose of intimate conversations and sexting. Have a conversation about choosing a platform that you and your partner(s) find usable & are comfortable with.

If you are starting to sext someone new, it is better to choose a messaging app that allows the use of handles/ nicknames instead of being tied to phone numbers or other personally identifiable information.


Why not choose sexy nicknames? #digitaltimes #Coronaindia #lockdown #privacy


Telegram, Signal & Threema support timed messages. Some apps alert you if the recipient screencaps your messages. Signal allows for setting a “one-time viewing” option on images. (If you are old-school, go for Jabber.) Have a conversation with your partner(s) about not backing up or saving your messages, photos, nudes etc and deleting them.


I guess one chooses for convenience. but can we think about security while thinking about love or lust. tough one! @digitaldutta what say?

Also I wish privacy was a given right, so that we could just focus on pleasure part! @thepleasureproj @iambesharm


I always chose platforms for the fun aspect. I wanted more emojis, more interaction, but I am super scared of the fact that these conversations are getting recorded.


Do people find it easy to shift from one platform to another?  How can we negotiate the process of shifting platforms ? 


Shifting away from an app or platform that one has got comfortable with can be a pain. It is yet another app to manage on the phone. It takes up memory, screen space etc. Sometimes, we need to swallow a bitter pill to make sweet memories.

Ask these important questions to yourself & your partner while considering a shift:

  • Would you choose to keep the texts & images or take them off the record?
  • What would you want to share? The Internet is forever, and it is hard to get permanently deleted from it.

Do you think data accessibility is an issue, especially in a country like India, where not all cities and towns are well connected? 


It is. And it affects the choices people make while navigating digital communication. Mobile Internet tariffs in India are among the lowest in the world. And affordable smartphones (USD 150 or less) have been available in India for nearly a decade.

However, affordable smartphones come with their own privacy issues.


Messaging apps such as WhatsApp are significantly faster on slower Internet connections than the privacy-centric apps, making people with connectivity issues and unreliable mobile networks gravitate towards the former.


with no one measuring access to internet across India, access to networks is a privilege


Also incredibly uneven when it comes to gender: we lag behind Pakistan and Bangladesh when it comes to women’s access to mobile phones.


What are the best practices while sharing photos or videos ?  What are the tools one can use to share ? 


“Sextortion” (blackmail over sexually explicit images typically obtained by stealing or shooting them without consent) & non-consensual pornography (commonly known by the misnomer revenge porn) are two of the biggest concerns when sharing intimate photos & videos.

While taking nudes, it is highly advisable to not photograph the face or identifying marks such as tattoos and scars. Even if one applies a filter to blur or pixellate these parts of the image, is it possible to reverse these filters.

Many of the phone camera apps also pick up metadata such as a timestamp & GPS coordinates and embed them the photos. Remove this metadata (EXIF data) before sending photos. Recommended Android app: ScrambledEXIF.


Also i-cloud when using iPhone because when you take a picture, it gets automatically uploaded on I cloud and maybe when someone hacked it when your nude pictures are in can access it

When using icloud, choose to only upload selected photos or videos to icloud Using external hard drive that can’t be hacked works too because it’s not connected to the #internet


I guess not to show the face? #DigitalPrivacy


One can obscure photos will applications like obscure cam

*ObscuraCam app by The Guardian Project. It allows for pixellating, redacting and cropping images easily. However, this app majorly affects image quality.


Also use email addresses created on proton mail to set up a messaging account because in case your nudes escape, they can’t be traced back to your name


You could also create temporary mail id from platforms like http://mailinator.com

List of secure messaging apps to play around with:



Telegram (Secret chat feature)







Turn off location services when you take the photos and turn off automatic uploads. You photo vault app to help store nudes and removes automatically from your photos feed on your phone Use end to end encryption apps too

Add passcode to your phone and encourage your sexting friend to do the same

Don’t use Facebook messenger, use timed message services such as Snapchat, private messaging like Telegram, wire or signal because image isn’t sent as download and also notifies if someone takes a screenshot of your conversation or image/s

Don’t have your face in the picture and hide tattoos or any natural mark on your body that identifies you

Additional Resources : 

What video conferencing tools to use :


How to take private photos on signal :


When it comes to #digital privacy what are some of the resources that are helpful ?

Resources : 


The Motherboard Guide to Sexting Securely

 https://vice.com/en_us/article/mb3nd4/how-to-sext-securely-safely-what-apps-to-use-sexting Hack Blossom

 https://hackblossom.org/domestic-violence/threats/sexual-content.html https://hackblossom.org/domestic-violence/defense/secret-accounts.html

Take back the tech


Safer Nudes


Safer Sisters Online Security Tips in GIFs

https://medium.com/codingrights/safersisters-online-security-tips-in-gifs-222589166ed8 For teens (by Planned Parenthood) https://plannedparenthood.org/learn/teens/bullying-safety-privacy/all-about-sexting https://plannedparenthood.org/learn/teens/bullying-safety-privacy/online-privacy-and-staying-safe

Dirty Code


A personal story: Love in the time of cryptography



Safer nudes is available a printable zine: https://codingrights.org/send-nudes

From its official description: “…discussing post-porn aesthetics and strategies for combating gender inequalities in the web, it was thought to be more appealing to women and sexual minorities since they are more easily exposed to online haressment, by practices such as revenge “porn”, doxxing, cyberbulling, etc.”

Dirty Code is an interesting approach to sexting. Instead of sending or receiving an actual nude photo, it enables sexters to send/ receive a drawing of it: https://dirtycode.io

(While we are at it, here is a friendly reminder to never send an unsolicited dick pic even if it is a drawing of a dick pic.) #consent

Instead of being literal or graphic all the time, you could use GIFs and NSFW sticker packs (Signal & Telegram) to convey your mood. You can also make your own sticker packs easily using freely available vector illustrations of whatever floats your & your partner’s boat.


Encryption, use of TOR, use secure connection like VPN, use personal cloud storage because they are less likely to be targeted by hackers


VPNs are a double-edged sword, especially when sexting. Free VPNs are free of monetary cost for a reason. That’s not good for the users’ #privacy and digital #security.


I wrote this article for @Hidden_Pockets

during the #Aadhaar crisis. It is still relevant during #lockdown and #corona crisis. Is your dating life safe with all these dating apps?



Sticker packs as promised  pastebin.com/yNnyAqsL



What are some of the laws that we should keep in mind that are helpful? 


Do remember India has a legislation specific to Information Technology Act 2000, and we can reach various cyber cells across cities in times of crisis.


Any non-consensual sexual imagery is not porn. It is a crime. An awful one which results in lasting and damaging consequences.


Some sections in IT Act, specifically deal with violating the modesty of women in online spaces, and it can be used for instances like revenge porn. 


Provisions exist both under the IT Act and the IPC to deal with them. However both substantively and procedurally more must be done to address it


There are provisions under the IT Act and the IPC as Apar mentioned. However, my work on online non-consensual imagery from many years ago largely indicates that is redressal and justice for victims are difficult, circuitous and protracted.

Social stigma, a lack of support from family and social circles, patriarchal attitudes towards sexual propriety and conduct, and the fear of harassment by the police prevent victims from doing so much as filing a basic police report:




Victims are often driven to suicide: (Unfortunate use of the term “revenge porn” here)




How can parents in India educate their children on online privacy given that 


  • Parents are not always the most aware about online privacy 
  • Children find it difficult to share their online experiences with parents ?



exactly! more resource by @PPact:



[Event Report] The Glass Room Exhibition (Community Edition), Bengaluru 2019

The first-ever edition of the global pop-up exhibition “The Glass Room” to be held in India was hosted by The Bachchao Project in Bengaluru from 22 to 24 November, 2019. The exhibition was a part of the art gallery event Art Bengaluru 2019.

The three-day exhibition attracted more than 300 visitors, and was supported by 15 trained volunteers. Visitors were also offered the Data Detox.

The Glass Room is a public intervention that provides an interactive, fun, and challenging experience, bringing to life the most pressing challenges facing people and the tech industry today. As technology reaches a global scale and becomes embedded in every part of our lives and our environments, The Glass Room examines its impacts and helps visitors explore practical solutions to mitigate them. The consequences of a “move fast and break things” industry are catching up with us and now we must examine what has been lost and gained along the way. The Glass Room is curated by Tactical Tech, an international NGO based in Berlin.

Exhibits titled “Zuckerberg’s House”, “Alphabet’s Empire” and “The Life of a Selfie” were especially popular amongst the visitors, one of whom wrote, “I know some of the information before (e.g., Zuckerberg’s buy out) but this is way comprehensive [sic] and concise”. Feedback received from the visitors shows that they appreciated the exhibition “for showcasing the need to privacy and bringing digital awareness to the mass audience” and for “creating awareness of the digital footprints we leave”. Some visitors said that they wished to see some exhibits contextualised for the Indian data privacy scenario and audience in the future, while some others wished for a larger exhibition and more exhibits.

Visitors who received the Data Detox kits found them “very interesting and informative” and that “it was scary to realise how much [data] is up for sale like [mentioned in] the [Data Detox] booklet”. Most visitors also stated that they looked forward to taking the 8-day Detox Challenge. Around 150 Data Detox kits were distributed at the event.

The Data Detox Bar at The Glass Room Exhibition
The Data Detox Bar at The Glass Room Exhibition

The response of the visitors to The Glass Room, Community Edition indicates that it was an interesting and valuable experience for them, and the Complete Edition would be well-received,  “[We need] many more such installations at many more art exhibitions.” 

At The Bachchao Project we believe that conversations on digital privacy and security must move beyond policy-making and civil society spaces to reach and include the general public. The Glass Room Exhibition is a brilliant medium to have these conversations. Our strongest motivation for hosting The Glass Room was to bring this medium of having conversations about the interplay between technology and privacy to India. In the years to come we hope to continue to host these kinds of events in different parts of the country, with more India-specific content.

Women and the Streets of Goa

A pilot study on the safety of women in public spaces in Goa, India

By Chinmayi S K and Tania Devaiah

Women and the streets of Goa (2018) is a preliminary report comprising the findings of the Safe Goa project. Safe Goa is an effort to study the safety of women in public spaces and to advocate for the mitigation of the issues of public safety.

This report draws from the following:

  • Maps displaying the street-level view printed on paper and placed on the field, that is, in 7 different locations in the city of Panjim for victims and bystanders to anonymously log incidents of street harassment and assault. Data was collected from this maps over 5 weeks.
  • Structured and anonymized interviews with 20 women residents of Goa to record personal accounts of street harassment and to understand the issue in its depth.
  • 5 focus group discussions attended by more than 100 people to understand what public safety means to them and to identify and determine potential interventions.

This pilot study emphasizes the lived experiences of women in Panjim and the meaning they ascribe to “safety” with reference to public spaces in Goa.


Of Sieges and Shutdowns

How unreliable mobile networks and intentional Internet shutdowns affect the lives of women in Manipur

By Chinmayi S K and Rohini Lakshané

Of Sieges and Shutdowns draws upon 16 qualitative interviews and as many first-person accounts to unravel and document how unreliable mobile networks and intentional Internet shutdowns affect the lives of women in Manipur. The Bachchao Project conducted this study in late 2017 in Manipur with the support of Integrated Rural Development Service Organisation (IRDSO).

We invited women entrepreneurs and activists working in different areas of women’s empowerment to participate in this study via in-person interviews and a two-day exploratory workshop. This preliminary study is an attempt to probe their use of information communication technologies (ICTs) in professional and everyday contexts, the impact of Internet access issues on their lives, and their experiences of intentional Internet shutdowns.

Of Sieges and Shutdowns (2018), research report by The Bachchao Project [PDF]
View and download the report [PDF]
View a summary of findings of the report [PDF].

View a conference handout [PDF] based on the report.

Ninglun Hanghal reviewed the report for GenderIT.org in December 2018: How Internet Shutdowns Affect The Lives of Women in Manipur

Workshop Design for Feminist Investigation of Access

By Chinmayi S K and Rohini Lakshané

We are publishing this design document to serve as a guideline for conducting an interactive event or a workshop to understand and document how intentional Internet shutdowns affect the lives of women, especially those living in sensitive geographies. It takes into account the best practices and principles of organising feminist meetings and is especially focussed on researching questions about women’s access to the Internet.

We first conceptualised and used this design for a two-day interactive and exploratory workshop held in 2017 in Manipur, India in partnership with the Integrated Rural Development Service Organisation (IRDSO). The workshop was a part of a pilot project to research the effects of unreliable mobile networks and intentional Internet shutdowns on the lives and livelihoods of women in Manipur. 16 women activists, NGO workers, and entrepreneurs from Manipur participated in it. A report entitled “Of Sieges and Shutdowns” comprising the findings from this workshop and subsequent research activities was released at RightsCon 2018 in Toronto, Canada.

The event in this document has been envisaged for interacting with activists and organisations functioning in different areas of empowerment of women: human rights; relief for victims of domestic abuse; economic independence; access to education; increasing the participation of women in governance; and so on. This methodology can be used to investigate these questions:

  1. What are their patterns of Internet usage?
  2. How have intentional Internet shutdowns impacted their lives?

We are releasing this document under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 International license so that other feminist groups conducting research and advocacy on related topics could adopt this design into their pursuits. Feedback, suggestions and comments that could help us enrich this design for future use are welcome and much appreciated. If you would like our help in applying this design to the context of your research or advocacy, please email us: theteam [at] thebachchaoproject [dot] org

Workshop Design: Of Sieges and Shutdowns
Workshop Design: Of Sieges and Shutdowns

Gender based violence in East India

Societies that discriminate on the basis of gender pay a significant price in terms of higher poverty,lower quality of life, slower economic growth, and weaker governance (Elizabeth King, 2001).

India’s rugged north-east( which consists of the seven states of Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and the Himalayan state of Sikkim) and eastren parts ( Jharkhand , Orissa , West Bengal, Sikkin) of India  has seen a rise in crimes against women over the past decade. In 2014, the National Crime Records Bureau reported that six of the north-east states have witnessed an accelerated increase in crimes against women. These crimes ranged from rape and kidnapping through to dowry death and domestic cruelty.

The region is multiethnic with heterogeneous cultural background and is different from mainstream homogeneous culture. Moreover in the last few decades insurgency has been the part and parcel of the life of the people of the region. Heavy militancy in the area, lack of access to economic opportunity and education has left many women vulnerable to becoming severely affected by trafficking, violence or systemic abuse.

The fear of not being believed, being stigmatized, being blamed, dread of revisiting the ordeal during interrogations are some reasons as to why so many incidents of crimes against women go unreported in a patriarchal society. The victim is the one who is left disgraced while the guilty perpetrator is offered impunity. These crimes reflect deep rooted gender inequalities that persist in India.

Studies show the high prevalence of all forms of violence against women across all socio-economic settings in eastern zone of India. Giving property right, access to employment and educational opportunity to women thus might not change the picture. A revolutionary change in the social and cultural values and behavioural pattern is necessary to foster the process of achieving gender equality. As soon as women feel that they have the capability to operate the society at the same term as men then achieving gender equality would not remain as a distant dream.

To combat the rising violence, sustainable solutions are needed to ensure protection of women from the East. Hackathon against Gender Based Violence is one such initiative that has brought together technologists and activists to creatively think of solutions.

In India the issues of gender based violence are influenced not only by individuals but have deep cultural issues attached to them. Hence, while building solutions one needs to think through these cultural issues. This event would act as an enabler to think about solutions around the local issues of gender based violence, involving discussions and learning opportunities along with building technology.

The aim of this event would be to create an environment for building sustainable solutions to Gender Based Violence. In doing so we also make sure the following are achieved in the process:

  •  To include the best practices of humanitarian technology building in the solutions
  •  To encourage creativity and new approaches to solving a persistent problem
  •  To encourage more women to participate in the solution building
  •  To build sustainable solutions through this event