Community fellowship program for grassroots trainers

The Bachchao Project conducted a training of trainers for women, trans* and queer individuals, and those belonging to the LGBTQIA+ spaces. The people for the training were chosen from a closed call spread in various underrepresented communities. Nine trainees were initially chosen, out of which six trainees completed their training. Five among them went on to do the Safe Sisters fellowship program with The Bachchao Project.

The Bachchao Project, in partnership with Safe Sisters, conducted the India Fellowship Program from August to November 2021. This cohort included 5 fellows, shortlisted for their diverse areas of work with at risk and/or underserved communities, who by the very virtue of their identities are exposed to many unique  risks.

An initial training period allowed the fellows to begin understanding and responding to security challenges they may face in their work and daily life. The aim of the program was to enable them to secure themselves, and pass on these learnings in the communities they work in. The focus was on holistic security practices rather than tool usage, and fellows underwent activites on needs assessment, risk assessment and threat modelling, before moving to possible interventions.Since the fellowship was based in India, the initial training was localised to the country, as far as possible. We also held a session with prior safe sisters fellows from other countries, to underline the feeling of community and support. As the fellows spoke to each other, common interests became apparent, and resources and advice was exchanged.

The common thread that bound everyone together was the sharing of stories of online harassment, lack of access to justice and the positive impact that fellows could see their work having, especially in under served communities.  Fellows also exchanged notes on challenges faced while training diverse stakeholders and underlined the importance of being mindful of our own biases and shortcomings as individuals that we may carry into the training space. This highlighted again that without being inter sectional in every aspect of our work -including how we speak, train and otherwise engage with different communities.

After the initial training period, we conducted additional trainings for fellows who wanted more information on certain topics. The fellows were encouraged to set up their trainings while keeping the fellowship trainers in the loop. We held follow up calls for all the fellows and discussed their plans for the communities they work with, and assisted them in the setting up of workshops, if they required help. All of the fellows successfully carried out needs assessments for their target groups, and were able to carry out trainings where required. They  can now take back this knowledge and skill to their communities.

AK:

“Given the current pandemic, when more and more people are online and internet is used in a variety of ways – I feel I have benefited immensely by the fellowship as it has not only made me understand how to be safe in the digital space but also empowered me to help others from more vulnerable communities and spaces. The fellowship helped me understand how to give support in a structured fashion and I am equipped to assist others in being equipped and safe in the digital world. While firefighting skills are necessary but its much better to take certain precautions from the beginning in-order to minimise risk.”

Arunima N:

“The module on online dating and gender-based violence was entirely new to me. I liked the   tools we were given to express ourselves in the context of dating while keeping parts of our digital identity safe from being mined by dating companies. I also like that conversations we had as a part of this module, particularly on communicating to a potential romantic partner why digital privacy is important to you, and to see if the other person respects this principle of ours. That was a personally illuminating conversation to witness, between the trainers […] and the participants”

Brindaalakshmi K:

“Most importantly, I’m grateful for the space that we had as fellows during the course of this fellowship to ask questions and ask for extra resources. It was a safe learning environment. Feeling safe in a learning environment is a high priority for me while learning anything. I appreciate the patience and the effort of the trainers in always holding space for the fellows. That made a huge difference to me especially while learning tools that are absolutely new. It made the process less intimidating”

“I have had many learnings from this fellowship, not one. But the most important lesson that I have learnt is that digital security and consciously practicing safer methods is a way of life and a lifestyle change. It is taking me time and I cannot expect the people that I do workshops for to change their habits overnight. Over time, I have known this even through my work. But this fellowship has made me realise that digital security doesn’t have to be a dark and bleak thing. We as individuals have more power than we realise even while using automated technology, which often feels larger than life to most people. Many generations of people are still adjusting to using technology. Safety rests in recognising this power that we hold and making conscious choices”

Ravalisri V:

“The 2 days program on using dating applications is one of the major learning. It provided a platform to share our experiences and all the safety measures to be taken while using them along with what is a necessary action to be taken when someone faces problems from others”.

Chinmayi Shrivastava :

“A fantastic experience!

In addition to all the insights I gained on digital security, I have also walked away with a newfound confidence for digital security challenges that I might face in the future in my work and daily life. Having practised the tools myself along with the training sessions conducted as part of the Safe Sisters fellowship, I definitely feel more secure online which is the first step for me to conduct my daily work related and personal activities online without being scared and anxious at the thought of losing my data or my data ending up in the wrong person’s hand.”

[Event Report] India, Lets build the list

The Bachchao Project in partnership with OONI hosted an online event on 9th and 10th October 2021 to update the Citizen Lab test list for India. The event, which was called “India, Lets build the list”, was organised to help strengthen community based monitoring of internet censorship in India. The event allowed experts from different fields to contribute to a curated list of websites that are relevant to India and which are regularly tested for censorship by volunteers in India.

Censorship in India, specifically online, has been evolving steadily since the notification of the Information Technology Act of of 2000 and its associated rules. Though the Act itself offers multiple ways in which the Government can remove content and/or block access to content (including shutting down internet services), very little data is available to confirm if due process is regularly followed in these matters. This  raises serious concerns about its impact on Indian citizens’ right to freedom of expression and access to information.

While many such blocked sites may fall in the expected categories of illegal streaming, adult content, file sharing etc., research has also shown that internet censorship in India also impacts a wide variety of other sites, such as news media and human rights sites.This list building and monitoring activity is therefore crucial for us as citizens and as a community of digtal rights practioners to safeguard the essence of a free internet and uphold the rule of law.

One open software project that aims to increase transparency of internet censorship (and other forms of network interference) around the world is Open Observatory of Network Interface (OONI). To this end, the project builds free and open source software – called OONI Probe – designed to measure various forms of network interference.

A recent study used the OONI Probe testing software to measure the blocking of websites in various states in India (such as Manipur and Bangalore) from January 2019 to January 2020. It found that while 136 sites from the Citizen Lab test list for India were confirmed to be blocked, the major decrepancies in access were between ISPs rather than between regions. A large number of media outlets seemed to be targeted for blocking as well.

As of now, a relatively small community in India reviews and contributes to the Citizen Lab test list for India, which means that it’s entirely possible that we are not looking at all the possible thematic areas in which website censorship may be happening.

It therefore becomes essential that more people from varied backgrounds and fields of interest support such open source testing for censorship. By reviewing and contributing to the the Citizen Lab test list for India, you can help ensure that a broad range of relevant websites are tested, and that the censorship measurement data collected from the testing of these websites is more comprehensive, robust, and timely. This will enable citizens to ask important questions to lawmakers and even mount legal challenges when necessary.

To this end, on Day 1 of our 2-day workshop, our OONI partners facilitated a session (“Introduction to Internet censorship”) which introduced participants to key concepts around internet censorship and how website censorship is implemented, with the goal of ultimately highlighting the importance of contributing to the Citizen Lab lists of websites that are measured for internet censorship. For the purposes of this workshop, the following forms of censorship were kept out of our scope:

  • Censorship on social media platforms
  • Internet outages/blackouts/shutdowns
  • Takedown requests
  • Online trolling
  • Self-censorship

We used these two days to specifically look at websites that may have been or could be at risk of being blocked by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) . The group discussed the recent history of internet censorship specifically related to blocking of sites under Section 69 (A) and Section 79 of the IT Act .  We also reviewed existing research and public advocacy efforts with regards to internet censorship in India.

The concept of the Citizen Lab Global Test List and India Test List, both hosted on Github, was introduced to the group. These lists are compiled and maintained as a voluntary global effort to monitor website censorship. The India test list has over 600 URLs  which fall under many of the Citizen Lab’s 30 standardized categories.

A review of this list showed that the list was not balanced in terms of URLs in each category. The list also needed an update based on recent events in the country. Our workshop was specifically aimed at rectifying this and making the list more comprehensive & inclusive of the myriad concerns of citizens of our country.

A few of the participants shared their own experience with state censorship and their work on these issues. One of them presented a list that they had compiled by testing for DNS hijacking of sites specifically on the ACT Fibernet. Another participant found that many official government websites are not accessible to people outside the nation and shared their own work on creating a proxy to allow researchers and others to access Indian government websites from other countries.Geo-blocking prevents archival by the Internet Archive, which many researchers depend on. Participants also shared their experience of studying the issue of internet access in conflict zones in India and that even though access to the internet is recognized as a human right, it is often on the very bottom of the priority list for communities who are facing very intense threats on the ground. They also shared that being able to help these communities understand that the role the internet can play in responding to some of the other threats they face (and the tools to enable this, while foregrounding their safety needs) had been a very positive, empowering experience for all involved.

To end Day 1, we dove into the methodology of list building and list pruning which was developed and presented to the group by our friends at Netallitica. This session was specifically aimed to prepare us for Day 2 during which we (the organizers and the attendees) split into groups and co-worked on updating the India test list.

We started Day 2 with practical inputs on how to make changes to this list, important points to remember so that anyone who looks at this list later to test or to clean it understands what changes have been made and why. Our partners from OONI also showcased their beta tool which will make updating the Citizen Lab test lists much easier (through a web platform, without requiring GitHub accounts), once it’s launched.

A total of 10 participants split into two online co-working groups and selected a single theme to work on for 30-minute hands-on sessions each. The participants selected themes based on their area of knowledge and interest and also on how much information the list for that theme already contained. The focus was to make each theme list cover a wider base making it representative of platforms/ sources of information/ interaction that are currently important in our country.

In each group there were discussions to decide which sites need to be added and/or removed, and how websites should be categorized . An important part of this exercise was to ensure that we are including sites that cater to various schools of thought so that the list is not skewed in its representation. This is important to do so that we can measure censorship across the board and not only of target sites that may be important to the world view of the people building and testing these lists.

Day 2 of the workshop resulted in the follow changes to the India test list :

Category Code (Name) New URLs added Updated to

HTTPS

Moved to Global list Recommended for deletion Domain Updated Category Updated
ECommerce 7 1 0 3 1 0
LGBT 15 0 0 1 0 0
Human Rights 8 0 0 0 0 0
Environment 31 1 0 0 0 1
Public Health 26 1 0 1 0 0
News Media 11 0 0 0 0 0
Terrorism & Militancy 0 0 0 1 0 0
Culture 19 1 0 0 1 1
Hate Speech 0 0 0 0 0 0
Political Criticism 4 0 0 1 0 1
Government 1 0 0 0 0 0
Pornography 5 0 0 0 0 0
Total 127
4
0
7
2
3

The participants were able to significantly add to the categories of LGBT, Environment , Culture and Public Health which were very sparsely polluted earlier.

Accomplishing this took time and effort to ensure no sites were repeated, URLs were added correctly, and that existing URLs in the list were still relevant. Our workshop focused specifically on contributing new URLs and we did not specifically set out to prune the existing list (though some of us took the initiative to look at this aspect too). Here is the pull request for this update: https://github.com/citizenlab/test-lists/pull/864

At the end of workshop, participants and us as organizers were enthused by the amount of understanding built about the importance of community based monitoring of internet censorship and a huge role that people from all walks of like can (and in our opinion, should) play to help technologists and digital rights advocates around the world to stand guard over a free Internet.

We hope that this effort will give impetus to more people to engage in these sort of open source list building and testing activities that will enable the generation of in-depth and representative data on the true nature of the Internet that citizens in India get to experience.

Report on Telecom Consumer Rights Education Program (2018-2019)

Authors: Chinmayi S K and Rohini Lakshané*
The “Report on Telecom Consumer Rights Education Program (2018-2019)” presents the highlights from a year-long education program for women telecom consumers conducted by
the The Bachchao Project in Manipur from December 2018 to August 2019. This program was made possible with support from Internews.
This program was conceived as a result of our experiences and observations from the study “Of Sieges and Shutdowns”. This report elucidates on the objectives of the program, the programmatic activities we conducted, the curriculum and design of the consumer education workshops, and our lessons and challenges. We hope that this report will benefit similar endeavours in Manipur and in the field of
consumer education.

 

Download the report here:

Report on Telecom Consumer Rights Education Program (2018-2019)

*in alphabetical order

[Event Report] India Localization Sprint 2020

 

Early this summer The Bachchao Project contacted Localization Lab to propose a localization sprint (with the support of DataMeet and Random Hacks of Kindness India) to address the language accessibility needs of users in India, particularly those of women and marginalized groups. With regular occurrences of online harassment, censorship, surveillance, internet throttling and all out shutdowns regularly occurring in India, The Bachchao Project selected a set of four tools to localize which would provide everyday users and human rights defenders alike with a basic digital security suite:

    • Safe Sisters (developed in Uganda by Defend Defenders and Internews for women and girls) was selected because it is one of few digital safety guides developed for women in the Global South, by women in the Global South. The guide was developed not only with a focus on the unique needs and concerns of internet users who are women, but also with an understanding of the different circumstances and constraints faced by users outside of Europe and North America.
    • Signal was chosen as an easy-to-use and already widely adopted messaging tool whose adoption could be increased through being made available in more local Indian languages (other than Hindi).
    • Psiphon was chosen as a secure and reliable circumvention tool which The Bachchao Project has successfully used in many environments (including low-bandwidth) in India and which is easy-to-use for new users.
    • Tella was selected as one of the only secure, open source and easy-to-use mobile documentation tools available. Human rights documenters in India are in need of an straight-forward tool that will allow them to document quickly from a mobile device and will work well through internet shutdowns and in low-bandwidth environments.

Often the assumption is that localization into Hindi or English will suffice for users across India. Most users do in fact access tech in Hindi or English, however neither 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. To address this, the India Localization Sprint focused on localization into local languages other than Hindi, however not fully excluding it from the event.

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 4 digital security resources into a number of languages, The Bachchao Project and Localization Lab organized a virtual localization sprint to take place over the course of 2 weekends. The India Localization Sprint was hosted in 7-hour blocks with tool demos, localization discussion and collaboration as well as feedback and Q&A sessions with the developers and creators of the resources.

The sprint was widely advertised throughout November and received a total of 26 signups.

 

The Sprint

The first weekend of the India Localization Sprint launched on the last weekend of November with localization of the Safe Sisters Digital Safety Guide for Women and Girls and Psiphon for Android.

The first day of the event focused on the localization of Safe Sisters into Hindi, Marathi, Malayalam, Kannada, Konkani, Tamil, Manipuri and Assamese with a group of 13 attendees. Safe Sisters was highlighted for localization by The Bachchao Project (a techno-feminist collective serving women and gender minorities) because not only is it a guide developed by women for women, but it is one of the very few guides developed by women in the “Global South” and not form a European or North American perspective. The digital safety guide not only addresses women and girls and their unique digital safety needs, but originally developed for a Ugandan and East African audience, it keeps regional constraints in mind, many of which overlap with those faced by Indian users.

Helen Nyinakiiza from Defend Defenders joined us from Kampala, Uganda to start the sprint with an introduction to Safe Sisters and an overview of the unique approach used to create the guide – engaging a group of about 10 regional collaborators to communally develop the resource. The attendees then read through the full Safe Sisters guide in small groups, keeping an eye out for elements of the guide that would need to be added/removed/changed to make it most relevant for Indian audiences. Once consensus was reached over any changes and the groups had reviewed and solidified translation of key terminology used throughout the guides, participants dove into translating the guides in small groups by language. By the end of the event the Safe Sisters Guide was fully translated into Marathi, and Malayalam, with Hindi, Kannada, Konkani, Tamil, Manipuri and Assamese translations still in progress.

The second day of the sprint focused on localization of Psiphon for Android into Hindi, Marathi, Kannada and Malayalam with a group of 9 attendees. The event began with a presentation and Q&A with Keith McManamen of Psiphon who overviewed Psiphon, how it works and differs from other circumvention tools and most importantly, how Psiphon has been used in India in a period of increasing internet throttling and censorship. Psiphon was selected by The Bachchao Project for localization because a secure circumvention tool that is easy-to-use is essential in today’s India, a country which has had over 450 individual internet shutdown events in addition to long-term regional internet throttling. The Bachchao Project wanted a tool that would be usable and free for users in India, but would also be open source, not log identifying user information, and would actually work in India with differing regional internet connectivity.

After a meaningful presentation and Q&A with Psiphon, the day’s participants spent an hour overviewing a long list of technical terminology used throughout the Psiphon application. Prior to localizing the Psiphon Android app itself, participants worked in small groups – using resources like the Microsoft Terminology, Fuel terminology and Localization Lab Glossaries – to ensure all of the technical terms were understood and had agreed upon translations. By the end of the day, Psiphon for Android had been fully translated into Hindi, Marathi, Kannada and Malayalam.

The second weekend of the India Localization Sprint focused on localization of Tella and Signal, both for Android.

Day one launched with an in-depth live demo of Tella from Raphael Mimoun of the Horizontal team (developers of Tella), sharing how Tella has been useful for defenders around the world. Tella has the capability of securely collecting and storing audio, video and forms for documentation and reporting. Raphael overviewed all of Tella’s features and then fielded questions from participants about how Tella would work in an Indian context. The Bachchao Project chose Tella because it is a useful documentation tool for defenders and journalists alike and participants were particularly pleased to hear about Tella’s icon “camouflage” feature and ability to work offline and with low-bandwidth. Raphael also shared more in-depth information about how form templates can be created using tools like KoBoToolbox in order to deploy surveys with Tella.

After the demo and Q&A, participants again reviewed the glossary to be sure that relevant technical terms were first understood and translated and then the group of 8 attendees dove into translation of Tella for Android into Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Malayalam and Tamil. By the end of the event Tella was translated fully into Kannada, Malayalam and Tamil with translations into Marathi and Hindi in progress.

The Last day of the India Localization Sprint was focused on Signal. Signal is a popular secure communication application used all over India and the Signal team has recently focused on translations into Indian Languages. The Bachchao Project wanted to support this effort further by updating and contributing to existing translations. As for other tools, the first goal for the Signal sprint was to review key technical terms and make sure that they were solidified in the glossary. Unlike with other projects which had no prior translations, the participants utilized features in the Transifex (the translation platform) to review existing translations and make sure the glossary was consistent with prior translations and highlight inconsistencies. Overall, 11 translators joined to contribute to Singal Android translations into Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Malayalam and Tamil and by the end of the day, significant progress had been made updating the Android app across all of the languages with Malayalam and Tamil almost 100% updated.

To end the day and the India Localization Sprint, Riya from Signal Group joined the event to answer questions from the attendees about Signal Groups and other upcoming new features, and – maybe most importantly – Signal’s plans for increasing outreach and adoption of Signal in India.

The Outcomes

Image courtesy: Localization Lab

Safe Sisters

Hindi

Words Translated: Approx. 250

Kannada

Words Translated: Approx. 1,875

Konkani

Words Translated: Approx. 625

Malayalam

Words Translated: Approx. 2,500

Marathi

Words Translated: Approx. 2,500

Tamil

Words Translated: Approx. 1,250

Signal

Hindi

Words Translated: 713

Words Edited: 178

Kannada

Words Translated:1547

Words Edited: 272

Malayalam

Words Translated:2469

Words Edited: 321

Marathi

Words Translated:736

Words Edited: 243

Tamil

Words Translated:1982

Words Edited: 32

Grand Total

Words Translated:7447

Words Edited: 1046

Tella

Hindi

Words Translated: 1071   

Words Edited: 177

Kannada

Words Translated: 2207

Words Edited: 507

Malayalam

Words Translated: 2192   

Words Edited: 606

Marathi

Words Translated: 244   

Words Edited: 12

Tamil

Words Translated: 2181   

Words Edited: 431

Grand Total

Words Translated: 7895   

Words Edited: 1733

Psiphon

Hindi

Words Translated: 730   
Words Edited: 305

Kannada

Words Translated: 1237

Words Edited: 306

Malayalam

Words Translated: 2072

Words Edited: 414

Marathi

Words Translated: 1268   

Words Edited: 1270

Grand Total

Words Translated: 5307   

Words Edited: 2295

Glossaries

Tamil: 139 words translated

Hindi: 221 words translated

Malayalam: 230 words translated

Marathi: 172 words translated

Kannada: 227 words translated

Next Steps

After four days of collaboration contributors fully translated or made significant progress across all four projects, and we are now looking for volunteers to help us finish the effort. Are you interested in helping translate or review one of the following projects? Contact us!

Safe Sisters

The Bachchao Project is looking forward to using Safe Sisters to train its partners. As a part of that effort they are looking to share the completed guides in 2021 in open access and set up training calls for its partners. The Safe Sisters guides need some more translations for this to be possible.

Translation Needed: Hindi, Kannada, Konkani, Tamil, Assamese, Manipuri, Kashmiri

Review Needed: Hindi, Kannada, Konkani, Malayalam, Marathi, Tamil

If you are an organisation which works with women on grassroots issues. Please contact Chinmayi (The Bachchao Project) if you would like a training.

Psiphon

The Psiphon team will be deploying the translations that are ready in Hindi, Marathi, Malayalam, and Kannada with a forthcoming update of Psiphon Android (date TBA). In the meantime, translators and reviewers can also sideload this version to be able to check the translations in-context, by selecting the relevant language under Options > More Options > Language or by setting their device language accordingly. Language setting instructions can be found here.

Translation Needed: Kannada

Review Needed: Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi

Tella

Tella will be deploying the translations in four languages – Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam and Marathi – once all strings are translated and reviewed in these four languages.

Translation Needed: Hindi, Marathi

Review Needed: Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi

Signal

The translations provided for Signal are automatically included in bi-weekly (sometimes less frequent) builds. There are more strings that need translation in Signal. The Signal team has also created teams for Assamese and Manipuri in Transifex which were previously unavailable for translators.

Translation Needed: Hindi, Marathi

Review Needed: Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi

Note: This blog post has been jointly written and published by The Bachchao Project and Localization Lab

[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
https://forms.gle/RM7CisegsJWMveNSA

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

Contact

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

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:

@Hidden_Pockets

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

Yes

19%

No

81%

21 votes · Final results

@imacat_tw

Feeling safe by not feeling secure?

See new Tweets

@aldebaran14

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 ?

@Hidden_Pockets

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

@aagrabakijasmin

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

@bachchaoproject

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

https://profeminist.tumblr.com/post/109808695357/lingerie-is-sexy-consent-is-a-basic-human-right

Resources : 

@bachchaoproject

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZwvrxVavnQ

@aldebaran14

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

https://training.wikiinclusivity.in/articles/making-events-safe-and-welcoming/romantic-or%20sexual-advances/

@Aadhi_02

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?

@nalin_goyal

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.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.samruston.permission

 

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

@bachchaoproject

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.

@Hidden_Pockets

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

@bachchaoproject

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.

@Hidden_Pockets

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

@aagrabakijasmin

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 ? 

@bachchaoproject

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? 

@bachchaoproject

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.

https://privacyinternational.org/long-read/3226/buying-smart-phone-cheap-privacy-might-be-price-you-have-pay

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.

@digitaldutta

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

@praymurray

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

https://lirneasia.net/2019/02/ict-access-and-use-by-women-in-the-global-south-presentation/

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

@bachchaoproject

“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.

@sandraaceng

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

@aagrabakijasmin

I guess not to show the face? #DigitalPrivacy

@bachchaoproject

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.

@sandraaceng

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

@bachchaoproject

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

List of secure messaging apps to play around with:

Signal

Threema

Telegram (Secret chat feature)

Wire

Silence

Delta

Chat

Riot

@sandraaceng

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 :

https://freedom.press/training/blog/videoconferencing-tools/

How to take private photos on signal :

https://freedom.press/training/taking-private-photos-signal/

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

Resources : 

@bachchaoproject

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

 https://takebackthetech.net/know-more/heyfriend

Safer Nudes

 https://codingrights.org/4

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

 https://dirtycode.io

A personal story: Love in the time of cryptography

https://wired.com/2017/04/love-in-the-time-of-cryptography

@bachchaoproject

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.

@sandraaceng

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

@bachchaoproject

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.

@aagrabakijasmin

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?

https://hidden-pockets.com/tinder-messages/

@aldebaran14

Sticker packs as promised  pastebin.com/yNnyAqsL

 

 

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

@Hidden_Pockets

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.

@apar1984

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

@Hidden_Pockets

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. 

@apar1984

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

@aldebaran14

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:

https://t.co/6HSvFHzI5K?amp=1

http://www.eroticsindia.org/pornography/amateur-porn-privacy-censorship-consent/

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322661093_Amateur_Pornography_and_Consent

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

https://www.edexlive.com/live-story/2017/apr/13/the-dark-net-and-its-crimes-329.html

 

@trishapande

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 ?

 

@Hidden_Pockets

exactly! more resource by @PPact:

https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/teens/bullying-safety-privacy/all-about-sexting

 

[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.

Call for volunteers: The Glass Room Exhibition, Bengaluru, 22 to 24 November 2019

The Bachchao Project invites volunteers for The Glass Room exhibition scheduled to be held in Bengaluru from November 22 to 24, 2019 at UB City. The Glass Room is a global pop-up exhibition that is generating a conversation about data and privacy. This will be the first-ever edition of the exhibition to be held in India.

Tasks for volunteers

  • Interact with visitors
  • Talk about the exhibits assigned to them, and answer questions that visitors may have
  • Distribute handouts to visitors who are interested
  • Collect feedback from visitors

Who can volunteer?

Individuals who:

  • Speak English.
  • Live in Bengaluru.
  • Are available for at least four hours at a stretch during the three-day exhibition.
  • Are available to attend a briefing session on the evening of November 21.
  • Have at least a basic knowledge and understanding of common Internet technology and its interplay with privacy (preferable).

All volunteers will receive a daily allowance for covering expenses towards meals and conveyance to and from the exhibition venue.

How do I sign up?

Email theteam@thebachchaoproject.org with this information:

  • Your name
  • Dates when you’re available to volunteer
  • Approximate number of hours you wish to dedicate
  • Why are you interested in volunteering for this event?
  • Do you have previous experience of working on the topic of digital privacy and security, in a professional or volunteer capacity?

(For media inquiries, contact Rohini Lakshané: rohini@thebachchaoproject.org)

More about The Glass Room

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. (Text from: https://theglassroom.org/about-us)

The Glass Room is curated by Tactical Tech, an international NGO based in Berlin.

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. http://thebachchaoproject.org

Twitter: @bachchaoproject

Venue

UB City mall, Vittal Mallya Road, Ashok Nagar, Bengaluru 560001. The exhibition is a part of the art gallery event Art Bengaluru 2019.

[Event announcement] The Glass Room Exhibition, Bengaluru, 22 to 24 November 2019

First-ever edition of The Glass Room Exhibition in India to be held in Bengaluru

3 November 2019, Bengaluru, India

The first-ever edition of the global pop-up exhibition “The Glass Room” to be held in India has been organised by The Bachchao Project in Bengaluru from 22 to 24 November, 2019. The exhibition is a part of the art gallery event Art Bengaluru 2019. Entry is free and open to the public.

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. More at: https://theglassroom.org

The three-day exhibition invites volunteers: http://thebachchaoproject.org/call-for-volunteers-the-glass-room-exhibition-bengaluru-22-to-24-november-2019

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

Contact

For media inquiries, Rohini Lakshané: rohini@thebachchaoproject.org. For everything else, email Chinmayi S K: chinmayi@thebachchaoproject.org

Venue

UB City mall, Vittal Mallya Road, Ashok Nagar, Bengaluru 560001
2nd floor, Near lift lobby

Hours

11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on all days. Last entry: 8.30 p.m. on all days