Riseup recently joined the Association for Progressive Communication (APC), a global network started in 1990 and composed of 58 member organizations from all over the world. APC does amazing work in the areas of digital access, human rights, internet governance, feminist internet, and alternative technology. For more information about APC, see https://apc.org/.
Some of the Riseup birds flocked to Spain this month to a conference where we met with some tech comrades. We facilitated some sessions, helped organize some meetings, and generally breathed the same air with internet activists from around the globe. We were particularly excited to connect with other alternative service providers from Europe and Latin America to scheme ways in which we can collaborate and support one another.
The world is full of tragedies, but it also has a lot of good activist folks trying to make it better. For example, while we were in Spain, women launched the first ever nationwide feminist strike against patriarchy and capitalism. Five million people took to the streets in a strike that included the suspension of all work including wage labor, domestic work, buying anything, and studying. Yay, humans.
Some of the Riseup birds went nowhere this month. We played with our dogs, went to protests, worked, slept, made our loved ones laugh, and generally acted very normal.
DuckDuckGo, the internet search engine that doesn’t track you, is giving away half a million US dollars in matching grants, and has invited Riseup to be part of their giveaway. So, if you’d like to donate to us, you can double your donation, and make us eligible for different giveaways, at https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/riseup-labs1/
Since we are participating in the very generous DuckDuckGo! Fundraiser (see above), we decided to check out the platform it is using, since we are asking you to donate through it. As we try to make very clear through our newsletters and information on our website, there is no such thing as absolute privacy or security, and we want to give you information so you can make your own decisions about what level of data leakage is appropriate for you.
CrowdRise is a crowd funding platform. Its big idea is to “gamify” crowd funding. There are challenges, daily bonuses, and it tries to be fun. However, when we peeled back the layers and looked at their practices we found they are a service built on surveillance and the tracking of your personal information.
In fact, if you have DuckDuckGo’s excellent “Privacy Essentials” browser add-on installed, it would block 10 of the trackers used by CrowdRise.
When you log in to CrowdRise, these are the companies that are tracking you:
- Gigya (customer tracking and personal identification)
- Linked In (customer tracking and personal identification)
- Mixpanel (user tracking and analytics)
- Hubspot (user tracking and marketing)
- Swiftype (user tracking and search analytics)
- Optimizely (user testing analytics)
- New Relic (business analytics)
In addition, there are trackers for the major internet monopolies, so they know what your donation interests are (including Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon), and trackers of the major advertising networks (AddRoll, Rubicon Project, Yahoo Ads, Bidswitch, OpenX, and AdNxs). If you include the content delivery networks, then visiting CrowdRise allows you to be tracked by 21 different corporations.
Surveillance is always about power. These corporations want your data to have power over you, pure and simple. The purpose of behavioral tracking is to allow global capital to peer into your most intimate desires, relationships, and insecurities. This type of surveillance has been used for a while to manipulate you into wanting and buying things. Recently, however, it has become clear that these data troves are also being used to elect tyrants, silence dissidents, jail the poor, deport immigrants, and wage war.
What does it mean for a great privacy-respecting service like DuckDuckGo to launch their “Privacy Challenge” using a platform like CrowdRise? What does it mean that trusted organizations we rely on to advocate against mass surveillance are part of this “Privacy Challenge” including Freedom of the Press Foundation, Demand Progress, Center for Democracy and Technology, Tails, Tor, Fight for the Future, Access Now, and Riseup?
We think it probably means that it is very difficult to entirely escape surveillance capitalism. We have decided to be part of this Privacy Challenge because we want to give our users the chance to double their donations. At the same time, we also feel it is important for you to understand some of the context and consequences behind the technology platforms we rely on.
If the massive database in the cloud that tracks your movements online does not freak you out too much, then please make your donation go twice as far by contributing here: https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/riseup-labs1
Otherwise please consider donating directly to Riseup: https://riseup.net/donate
There are also a few technical half-measures you can take to limit the amount of tracking that a site like CrowdRise is able to do. Please see our “Better Web Browsing” page for details. These measures won’t affect the data collected directly by CrowdRise or the credit card companies, but it will help you leak less data to numerous trackers that attempt to build complete profiles of your behavior.
Love, The Riseup Birds