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Privacy, anonymity, visibility: dilemmas in tech use by marginalised communities: summary, findings and reflections

Date added: July 31, 2016

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T4T&A (tech for transparency and accountability) initiatives intend to make the public functioning of government visible, and states accountable to citizens for their actions. This summary presents findings and reflections from two studies of how marginalised communities use technologies commonly applied in 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.

This document summarises researcher gathered by interviewing 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.

The most significant reflections from the research are that:

  • Marginalised users have different needs for privacy and security online and offline, and T4T&A activities need to integrate these concerns
  • Collaborations across and within technology and activist movements and communities must recognise their different histories of engagement with politics, technology and the state
  • Without the full enjoyment of human rights, marginalised people’s participation in T4T&A activities is bound to be limited.
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