Top Ten Privacy Checklist Before Direct Action

Greg Stromire provided a great list of privacy protections you can take before participating in direct action as a part of his recent Data Privacy for Activists workshop.  Because your mobile device is likely to be one of the most obvious ways of breaching your privacy, many of these are about protecting you mobile device.

  1. Be safe. Be mindful of your own personal safety. We’ll need you for the next action.
  2. Disable fingerprint unlock and upgrade beyond a PIN to a strong passphrase. Law enforcement can force fingerprint unlock without violating the 5th amendment, while passcodes are considered protected.
  3. Think about all the personal and private information on your phone. Does it really need to be there?
  4. Put in airplane mode if you don’t need service.
  5. Use picture and video capture without unlocking
  6. Consider a “dumb” phone, a disposable phone without any identifying info, or simply leaving your phone at home.
  7. Enable automatic locking after a very short time period
  8. Backup your phone data and enable remote wipe if you think it could be compromised.
  9. Know the legality of recording law enforcement — here in Oregon it’s legal, but please also remember tips 1 and 2!
  10. For private, encrypted text-messaging, Signal is a very reasonable choice. It does request your phone number and access to your contacts, so this isn’t anonymous, but it is secure. And whenever possible, try to “Verify the Safety Number” of those you communicate with (by tapping their name in the message view). And make sure the “Require Approval on Change” setting stays enabled.