Staying Safe With Chayn’s Privacy Guide

Last updated 7 Dec 2016 . 6 min read

How many times have you been told that if you really wanted to be safe from your harasser or abusive partner?—?you should deactivate your Facebook account, leave twitter, shut off Instagram and just stop using email?

We’ve heard those too and we’re tired of that advice. There may be no fool proof way to be completely stay off the track or fight harassment, but we believe that the solution cannot be to abandon your online presence. This is why today, we’re launching the Do-It-Yourself Online Privacy Guide which we have painstakingly worked on for the past year and a half, with the help of our own volunteers, allies and feedback from the general public.

There are two versions: A starter pack and an advanced guide.

As an organisation focused on empowering women against violence and oppression, a disturbing trend Chayn has noted in recent years is the use of technology to abuse, stalk and harass women. While celebrity cases of hacked photos and online abuse have been well publicized and documented, what we’ve found is a disturbing use of tools for perpetrators of abuse to control, coerce and manipulate women, especially in incidents of domestic violence. From threatening messages from abusive ex-partners to revenge porn, there is now an urgent need for information on how women can protect themselves online. Privacy and securing one’s information is daunting to most and can feel arcane, confusing and frustrating. As such, Chayn has created an Online Privacy Guide for Women to reduce the stress of online safety.

According to the United Nations Broadband Commission, almost three quarters of women online have been exposed to some form of cyber violence. In 2014 the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV)found that 97% of domestic violence programs stated that abusers used technology to stalk, harass or control their victims. Approximately 80% of the programs reported that abusers monitored survivors’ social media accounts while 86% said that victims were harassed via social media [1]. A survey conducted by the Cyber Civil Rights Institute reported that when posting images of their victims, 59% of the time abusers will include their victims full name. [2]

During our research for TechVsAbuse (a collaborative project researching the ways in which technology is helping victims and survivors), survivors expressed that technology was making it easier for women to be abused. This is not an uncommon concern and many times victims are told to avoid using the internet, which is unrealistic given that most of our lives?—?social, work, banking, etc.?—?have migrated online. Chayn has always focused on leveraging technology to empower women and our Privacy Guide is one of the many ways in which we hope to place power back into the hands of victims and survivors.

Chayn has spent over a year creating our guide which by no means is a bullet proof solution to the ever evolving field of technology and thus the ways in which women are being harassed, stalked and abused. However we have researched, curated and sought the best advice and information possible to protect women online. We also aim to update our guide regularly to make sure women are receiving up to date information on apps and privacy options on social media sites.

A vital aspect in the construction of our guide was ensuring that everyday women?—?particularly those without privacy or security knowledge?—?would be able to grasp the instructions and information presented to them. While we feel we’ve done a good job in this area, our guide is on the lengthy side and we have worried that it may be overwhelming to victims and survivors. As a result we are looking to create instructional videos. And as Chayn is an open source, volunteer driven organisation, we’re always welcoming of help and hearing your thoughts on ways in which we can improve our resources. Feel free to contact us here.

Much gratitude to all of our volunteers and beta testers as well as the security geeks and NGO’s who helped shape our guide?—?thank you for taking the time to help women feel safer!

This post was originally published on Medium

SHEROES - lives and stories of women we are and we want to be. Connecting the dots. Moving the needle. Also world's largest community of women, based out of India. Meet us at @SHEROESIndia

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