Digital defense playbook: Community power tools for reclaiming data
Type of work: Handbook/Primer/Guide
Categories:Human Rights | ICT Infrastructure | Knowledge Management
More than three years in the making, the Digital Defense Playbook: Community Power Tools for Reclaiming Data introduces a set of tried-and-tested tools for diagnosing, dealing with, and healing the injustices of pervasive and punitive data collection and data-driven systems. The Playbook contains in-depth guidelines for facilitating Our Data Bodies (ODB) workshops and group activities, plus tools, tip sheets, reflection pieces, and rich stories from our beloved community members. It focuses on educating communities on the impact of data-based technologies and inspiring visionary solutions that help us reclaim our data and develop trusted models of community health and safety. Developed by the ODB team, the Playbook builds upon community gatherings, workshops, and one-on-one interviews with hundreds of Charlotteans, Detroiters, and Angelenos, who provide valuable lessons in challenging everyday surveillance. ODB hopes the Playbook will energize community involvement in tackling surveillance, profiling, and privacy problems rooted in social injustice.
From its inception, ODB had always intended to make a popular education tool on data, discrimination, and injustice. But it wasn’t until Charlotte-based ODB member Tamika Lewis attended a 2017 conference that the format of the Playbook began to gel. Inspired by the words and wisdom of workshop participants and interviewees in Charlotte while doing ODB research, Tamika compiled quick tips about data, algorithmic systems, insecurity, and more. Meanwhile, Los Angeles-based ODB member Mariella Saba was one year deep into connecting conversations of the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, Los Angeles Community Action Network, and Skid Row community and germinating the Power Not Paranoia community defense framework that is central to the Playbook’s pedagogy. Later that year, Detroit-based Tawana Petty, London-based Seeta Peña Gangadharan, and Tamika took draft versions of the Playbook to another event, where they discovered how deeply ODB’s work could resonate with engineers, educators, academics, and advocates who don’t frequently intersect with social, racial, or economic justice work.
The Playbook has at its heart the key questions:
- How do we understand, talk about, and confront data collection and data-driven systems in our lives in ways that alleviate the emotional and physical toll of being profiled and targeted by the police, the welfare office, hospitals, commercial predators, and others?
- How can we use these conversations and engagements to build collective strength and move forward together?
- The Playbook provides practical analogies and everyday scenarios that people can connect to and shares insights and stories of the scores of people in ODB’s orbit. It makes talking about data collection, the sharing of data between institutions, data processing or analysis, and data-driven systems accessible.