Maya Indira Ganesh, Jeff Deutch and Jennifer Schulte. 2016. Privacy, anonymity, visibility: dilemmas in tech use by marginalised communities. Summary findings and reflections.

This summary presents findings and reflections from two studies of how marginalized communities use technologies commonly applied in tech for transparency and accountability (T4T&A) work, and the limits of this use. The research is intended to inform communities of practice around T4T&A initiatives: technologists, managers, donors, community-based activists and researchers. Researchers interviewed respondents in two marginalised communities – lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ) people in Nairobi, Kenya, and economically marginalised housing and urban development rights activists in Johannesburg, South Africa. T4T&A initiatives intend to make the public functioning of government visible, and states accountable to citizens for their actions. The study was based on the assumption that privacy and anonymity are important tactics for activists using technology, especially in transparency and accountability work that challenges institutions and authorities. For a variety of reasons, privacy is very difficult to maintain on popular, commonly available, proprietary platforms – many of which are deployed in T4T&A activities. Does this limit activists’ work with technology and if so, how? What are the other risks and barriers marginalized people face using technology?