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How to secure your phone before attending a protest

Protect your digital security

Back in June of 2020, when this article was first written, people were taking to the streets to organize for justice and protest against systemic racism and police brutality. Now, nearly two years later, people are again taking to the streets, this time to protest the possibility that the Supreme Court may overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that guaranteed people the right to terminate their pregnancies. There were protests across the country on Tuesday, May 3rd, 2022, when the news hit; there are bound to be more in the coming weeks.

As a result, we thought it would be a good idea to revisit this examination of how you can protect your phone data when attending a protest. Here goes:

BE AWARE

If you’re attending or even just watching the protests, then be aware: not only is your phone a trove of information about you and the people you communicate with, but it also functions as a tracking device. That’s why it’s important to keep your digital footprint as small as possible — any evidence placing people at protests could be enough to get them arrested.

You should account for the fact that your phone may get lost, stolen, or broken. There’s also a risk of your phone being confiscated by authorities — which means that if they’re able to unlock your phone, they’ll have access to data on you and people you know. It could give authorities access to information about what is being organized and who is doing the organizing and might even give them the information necessary to shut down or prevent protests and arrest those involved.IT’S IMPORTANT TO KEEP YOUR DIGITAL FOOTPRINT AS SMALL AS POSSIBLE

In other words, it never hurts to prepare for the worst, especially considering recent events.

The steps we’ve listed here are a basic start toward protecting your privacy before you attend a protest, but there are additional precautions you can take. Circumstances and situations vary, and none of these methods is 100 percent foolproof, but they do offer increased security for you and your info.

Data security is an ongoing issue, and we’re still learning the ways in which information is collected and sold, what kinds are gathered, who gets access to them, and what can be learned from them. While the following strategies are important if you’re participating in a protest, they are also useful if you want to be careful in your everyday technology use.

Here are some strategies you should consider.

IF YOU CAN, LEAVE YOUR PHONE AT HOME

Your phone carries a lot of information about you specifically. When you take it to different locations, it can reveal where you live, where you work, and what protests or demonstrations you’ve attended. In addition, every app you use collects a certain amount of information on you and has a detailed log of your activity. So, for example, if you use Twitter or Instagram at a protest, that activity and your social media account get tied to the protest.YOUR PHONE CARRIES A LOT OF INFORMATION ABOUT YOU

So it’s better to just avoid carrying all of that data with you. If you can, purchase and use a burner phone instead, and only turn it on when you’re at the site of the demonstration. Download and use more secure, encrypted apps for communication rather than the default text messaging apps on the phone (we’ll share some examples later).

If you’re bringing your own phone, back up your device in case it gets confiscated and remove all personally identifiable information from the phone. You can also wipe your phone entirely (after you’ve backed up all your stuff, of course) and add the apps and information you need to it. Try to keep your phone off unless you absolutely need to use it.

Original Source: ” How to secure your phone before attending a protest” , The Verge, May 5 , 2022

https://www.theverge.com/21276979/phone-protest-demonstration-activism-digital-how-to-security-privacy

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