Carolyne N.

Carolyne N.

2018 Anita Borg Systers Pass It On Award Winner
Project Title: My Shadow: Access, Privacy, and Digital Security Tactics for Rights Defenders in Kenya

Carolyne is a Kenya-based ICTs and Anthropological Researcher. During the 2015-2016 school year, she became Kenya’s Google Anita Borg’s Scholar EMEA finalist. Her experience in public engagement with computer science and conversations with diverse audiences have helped her engage in today’s big questions in regards to internet freedom, information access, human rights, environmental health, peace, governance, and justice.

Carolyne has been instrumental in championing the use of ICTs and Activism in advocacy work among Indigenous communities, Human Rights Defenders (HRDs), and “At-Risk-Individuals” in Kenya. Her vision is to work with female Journalists and HRDs in high-risk environments, who lack information and data access, and to raise awareness on digital security threats for women journalists, activists, HRDs and At-Risk-Individuals.

In Kenya, oil, gas, minerals, forests, wildlife, and other natural resources are found in abundance. However, indigenous communities who depend on these ecological environments are often disregarded by corporations and governments who exploit these resources. Investigative journalists, bloggers, Human Rights Defenders (HRDs), and activists have spoken out against this issue online. Although the internet has become a vital tool for these professionals in getting their voices heard, their work is plagued by threats, assaults, arbitrary arrests, detention, kidnappings, and sometimes murder. Women are the most hit by online violence, hate, and threats to their personal lives and safety.

The rise of online activism has prompted the government to develop and deploy online surveillance technologies in monitoring communications, manipulation and censorship of digital-information, and cracking down on HRDs. Female journalists, bloggers, and other At-Risk-Individuals are often framed by powerful cartels, corporations, and politicians as enemies of development, and are labeled criminals. Companies and governments also raid and steal activists’ computers and smartphones, and monitor their calls, e-mails, text-messages and social media accounts and communications. As a direct consequence, many female activists across Kenya are deciding not to communicate or share information online because of security risks involved, fear for their safety, and of state-sponsored-system-hackings.

My Shadow will help women in Kenya adapt to high-tech technology and adhere to digital security. The project will engage participants through open-participatory and active learning approaches involving female investigative journalists, activists, bloggers, HRDs, and other At-Risk-Individuals who are affiliated with the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders – Kenya (NCHRD-K). My Shadow will also involve interactions between participants and the instructor, quizzes, and various group activities. In every session, 10 to 20 participants drawn from within indigenous communities, existing HRD Networks, media associations, and the civil society will be engaged with high-level ICT and digital security-based capacity building activities.