Students will choose a privacy-enhancing technology (app or platform) not covered in lecture (see below for a list of possible technologies). Students will:

  • discuss a range of digital threats faced by a particular social movement or direct-action group (picked in class after the lightning talks);
  • highlight a technology (app or platform) that could be deployed within this social movement group to counter the range of threats;
  • explain how the privacy-enhancing features of the app or platform work technically (at a conceptual level);
  • explain (in a way that would be accessible and useful to the social movement in question) what surveillance threat the technology protects against;
  • demonstrate in class the correct setup and use of the technology.

In addition students should describe how this social movement or group of people aims to equalize the distribution of social, economic, and political power in the United States or internationally (and specifically that the inequality being addressed rises from differences such as race, ethnicity, social class, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability, and age).

Students will work in groups of 2 or 3. The technology of choice and final submission format must be approved by the instructors (no two groups may cover the same app or platform). Alternative projects (see below) may be proposed but must be approved by the instructor.

In-class presentations

These will provide a first look at student projects. Presentations will be graded on clarity, completeness (do they address all of the above-mentioned points?), mechanics (technology should work in the presentation, set-up time should be minimal) and creativity. Presentations should be at least 10 minutes and no more than 15 minutes in length and may use any technology in the classroom or brought to the classroom.

Your in-class presentation is worth 15% of your final grade and will take place in week 9 and 10.

The presentation schedule will be announced soon!

Peer critiques

Forms will be distributed in class for students to evaluate their peers in the projects, with an emphasis on the following questions:

  • Were you able to understand how the tool works?
  • Could you use the tool as described?
  • Was the social movement context meaningful and clearly described?

Peer critiques will be forwarded to the students in the corresponding group. The intention is that this feedback will help you to perfect your project for your final submission.
You are expected to submit critiques of project presentations that occur on the days that you are not presenting.

Completing peer critiques (for all course projects) is worth 5% of your final grade.

Peer critiques will be completed during class.

Final submission

Each group will prepare a single final project submission in any easily shared format (e.g. a wiki, 'zine, video) that meets the above requirements. Final submissions will be graded on:

  • clarity and professionalism
  • completeness (do they address all of the above-mentioned points?)
  • creativity
  • whether they take into account peer critiques and instructor feedback based on your in-class presentation

Your final submission is worth 15% of your final grade and is due before the start of the final exam.

Where appropriate, submit physical handins to KEC3071 by noon on Tuesday June 12 or submit electronic handins through your Wire project group to the instructors. Please do not submit proprietary formats (like .doc or .ppt) rather, export/save your product as a pdf.

Possible technologies

Choose open source, end-to-end encrypted apps/platforms whenever possible

whole-disk or file encryption (e.g. Veracrypt); steganography; QubesOS; TAILS; Whonix; collaborative editing (e.g. cryptpad.fr); file sharing (e.g. SyncThing, OnionShare); securing commercial cloud storage (e.g. cryptomator); secure voice or video chat (e.g. Jitsi, tox); password manager (e.g. KeePassXC); security-enhancing mobile device apps (e.g. Tor on a smartphone, Signal, Conversations); CopperheadOS; Virtual Private Networks; security-enhancing hardware modifications; Faraday cages; hardware or software 2-factor authentication tokens; mesh networking; ...

Technologies covered in class are not appropriate for class projects. We will cover the following technologies in class (time permitting): Wire; HTTPS Everywhere; Privacy Badger; PGP/GPG email encryption, signing, and verification; Tor Browser.

Alternative projects

If you would like to propose an alternative project that is in the spirit of the course (covering both digital security and social movements), please do so. For example, perhaps you would like to contribute code, documentation, or other support to an open-source project on a relevant technology. In this case, you will work with the instructor to adjust the expectations of the project. An in-class presentation and final submission are still required and you must still work in a group of 2-3.