Signal and Surveillance: How to Exercise Digital Civil Liberties in a Surveillance State
Whether you’re an individual chatting with friends or an organizer planning a political action, all effective coordination depends on safe and reliable communication. Lacking integrity for our communications dooms any effort from the outset, whether mundane or revolutionary. As dragnet surveillance practices are legalized at alarming speed and continue to be fueled by a dramatic expansion of the law enforcement and private defense contractor economies, there has never been a more important time to flex your digital civil liberties muscle than right now.
Signal is the name of a Free Software, secure, private message application built on a cryptographic protocol of the same name. Formerly known as the Axolotl Ratchet or, more commonly, the Double-Ratchet Algorithm, its features are robust enough for the revolutionary activist (i.e., end-to-end encryption, message authentication, plausible deniability or message repudiation, perfect forward secrecy, and more) and yet simple enough to use as a drop-in replacement for your existing text messaging application. Signal also sports Skype-like voice and video calling, location- and file-sharing features, and even iMessage-style large font emojis!
If you’ve never heard of Signal before, now’s the time to switch. If you think you already know how to use Signal, let us show you some pro-tips (trusted third-party Safety Number verification, disappearing messages, registering Signal accounts with pseudonymous phone numbers, inactivity lock-outs, and Signal relay server IP address protection). This introductory cybersecurity workshop will show you why Signal is simple enough to schedule drinks at the bar with, yet secure enough to use for planning a protest.