Canaries and Crows: Technological Situational Awareness.On Riseup’s Canary issues with a harm reduction approach.

Putting all our eggs in one basket can be a foolish strategy sometimes, especially when there is someone specifically after your eggs. So let’s be clear: no system is unbreakable, and the state wants your data.

Recent events in the past few months, such as the 500 million yahoo accounts that were breached, 270 million various accounts, and 4.6 million t-mobile accounts may make it seem like we’re under attack more than ever, and in some regards this is true, but in reality people’s personal data has always been a valuable target for attack. This is especially true if you are a person of interest.

So as many of you may have heard, Riseup’s Canary has gone silent. When the federal government subpoenas information from some one or some group, they can also issue what is called a “gag order”, where the person or group cannot say they have been subpoenaed. A work-around for this is to constantly say that you haven’t been subpoenaed, and then stop saying that once you have, which seems to be the case with, a great group of people who describe themselves as “your friendly autonomous tech collective”. Riseup users host all kinds of data on their servers from email accounts, to documents, and more, which makes them a target.

Riseup has always held strong that they would rather pull the plug than let comrades in the struggle go down, but better than just relying on that is to always be aware of the information you are entering into a computer. No solution is a magic bullet, and situational awareness is absolutely key to our functioning as revolutionaries. Just as those of us who struggle with addiction opt to take a harm reduction technique, we too can take this approach as technology invades every facet of our lives.

It’s never too late to start learning, and we need to model our behaviors around the threats we face. Our GDC local has trainings for information security, tech security, and many more related topics that we give in person, but in the meantime, here are a few good links to guide newcomers on ways to unlearn bad behaviors:

On Tech Security in 2016
Surveillance Self-Defense from the Electronic Frontier
Prism Break: Opt-out of global data programs
Riseup Security Resources

And lastly, at the end of the day, the best way to be safe is to be organized.  Having a crew or organization that has a base in the working class and social movements will ensure that if you are targeted by the state or other forces, someone has your back.  This is truly the only real security we have. Building our organizations and deepening our base in the working class is the best way to strengthen our security.

Stay safe everyone,
Twin Cities IWW General Defense Committee Local 14

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