CryptoParty in the HCC!

Own your data. Control your data. Curate your digital identity. These are things we talk about a lot at UMW. Programs like Domain of One’s Own help students and faculty manage their public digital identity, but what about our private digital footprint? Who has access to our private data? Do we always know who has access? What can they do with it? And what happens when it becomes public?

Whether preventing our data from being used for others’ profit or protecting ourselves from dangerous individuals, there are things we can do to maintain the integrity of our data, to control our private digital identity. And a lot of the things we can do are pretty simple, once we’re aware of them and their importance.

So we’re having a party!

Citizen Four film, opening scene, PGP on terminal

On Thursday, March 16, from 4pm to 8pm, DTLT, the DKC, the HCC, and UMW Libraries are co-sponsoring a CryptoParty in the HCC Digital Auditorium. A CryptoParty is a place where everyone, from beginners to experts, can come together and help each other take back control of their data, their digital identity. We’ll begin by watching the film Citizen Four, a documentary that chronicles Ed Snowden’s interactions with journalists as he handed over data about the NSA’s domestic spy programs. When the film ends, we’ll enjoy some (free!) pizza together as we discuss the film informally. And then around 6pm, we’ll get to work taking back our digital agency.

We’ll have several stations that attendees can visit. You choose what you do, how long you take, and in what order. (Though, we’ll also have people to help guide you if you don’t know where to start.) Those stations will include several discussion-oriented stations, beginning with an introduction/orientation station for those just beginning to think about data privacy. We’ll also have a station focused on humans, abuse, and vulnerability, for those who want to explore how their digital life intersects their personal relationships. We’ll have a station devoted to thinking carefully about terms of service for apps and websites, and the ways we can use them to gain knowledge and control over who uses are data and for what purposes.

There will also be several practical stations where we get our hands dirty. In the mobile security station, we’ll get started using encrypted text messaging apps, and inviting our friends to join us on them. At the safe browsing station, we’ll install browsers, plugins, and other tools that block many of the data collection processes hidden on the websites we visit. At the social media permissions station, we’ll plumb the depths of Facebook’s (and other platforms’) privacy settings, making sure that we’re actually sharing our data and our posts with the people/companies we intend. And at the password management station, we’ll use password managers to help us generate unique, secure passwords for all our websites, without worrying about forgetting them (or writing them down!).

At each station, there will be someone with experience in the issue to offer tips, guidance, or even just moral support. We’re in this together!

Tom Hanks works at his laptop

Feel free to come just for the movie, or just for the activities, as your schedule permits. And please do bring a laptop, tablet, and/or smartphone, if you have one. It’s much easier to setup encrypted text messaging or install that privacy plugin for your browser if you have a device with you. If you don’t have a device you can bring, though, that’s fine! You can come, discuss, take notes, and we’ll likely have some groups wander to the HCC computers for their work.

We hope to see many of you there!

Header image by alpuerto.