People and Resources for Learning About Tech-Facilitated Violence & Abuse

Recently I met up with someone who attending my talk, Designing Against Domestic Violence, and was interested in learning more about the space and people doing similar work. When I started digging into this area a little over a year ago, I knew people working on the topic must be out there, but I struggled to find them. I also struggled to find relevant research and articles about tech-facilitated domestic violence and similar issues. To help my new friend, I agreed to put together a list of people to follow on twitter and a list of articles and studies. Here are those lists. These mainly involve people working the issue of abuse, violence, and stalking that is facilitated by technology.

People to follow on twitter:

  • Eva Galperin @evacide Director of Cybersecurity at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, anti-stalkerware activist, leading voice on ending tech-facilitated stalking
  • @EFF Electronic Frontier Foundation. Group that does digital civil liberty work.
  • @epenzeymoog Eva PenzeyMoog, which is me! I tweet about technology-facilitated domestic violence.
  • @OSPASafeEscape Operation Safe Escape helps victims of abuse, stalking, and harassment escape the abuse and stay safe once they do. Security experts volunteer to help survivors escape — a very very cool non-profit harnessing the power of security experts to do do amazing work.
  • @TheBADASS_army BADASS Army, a nonprofit comprised of victims trying to end image abuse and revenge porn and its founder, @BadassBowden Katelyn Bowden, a sex positive security expert.
  • @paladinservice Paladin Service, National Stalking Advocacy Service
  • @womensaid Women’s Aid, a national non-profit working to end domestic violence
  • @NostalkingIL Illinois Staling Advocacy Center, a non-profit in IL.
  • @MakeItOurBiz Make It Our Business — helping employers & other workplace stakeholders meet their domestic violence obligations under OHSA
  • @eSafetyOffice eSafety Office, a part of the goverment of Australia that works on online safety in progressive and meaningful ways (they provide a model of what other countries could be doing!)
  • @tweetinjules Julie Inman Grant, commissioner of the eSafety Office
  • @eSafetyWomen is an initiative of the Office of the eSafety Commissioner.
  • @NormanShamas Norman is a queer digital security and privacy harm reduction specialist
  • @ctrlshiftcode ctrl+shift, a coding bootcamp for survivors of interpersonal violence and abuse
  • @lockdownurlife Lock Down Your Life, a security and privacy advocate who tweets smart things about stalking, abuse, and assault
  • @WithoutConsent, working to empower victims of egregious online privacy violations to lead the fight against online harassment
  • @leotanczt Leoni Tanczer, a lecturer and researcher who focuses on cybersecurity, hacking, and Internet of Things misuse and abuse.
  • @NYPDDV The NYPD Domestic Violence Unit’s twitter account
  • @TamasoJ Tomaso Johnson, does policy work on domestic and sexual violence.
  • Jane Ruffino, @janeruffino UX content writer, thoughts on tech-facilitated abuse and inclusive designs, especially around fertility, miscarriage, and parenthood.
  • @ResilienceChi Resilience, Chicago-based non-profit providing medical and legal support to survivors of sexual assault.
  • @torproject The Tor Project, non-profit defending online privacy and freedom
  • @SarahJamieLewis Executive Director at Open Privacy, enforcing consent and resisting surveillance with cryptography.
  • @calexity Lex Roman, a designer in LA doing amazing work to use design and tech as a piece of the puzzle of ending homelessness.
  • @JessicaValenti Jessica Valenti super smart feminist author who is very good at twitter
  • @justkelly_ok Kelly Ellis, engineer and feminist, one of the women suing Google for gender disparity, very smart and very good at twitter
  • @EroticEntreProj Erotic Entrepreneurs, doing research on internet-based sex workers
  • @ChronicSexChat Chronic sex, bringing together sex positivity, disability rights, LGBTQ issues, and chronic illness

Articles, Studies, and More on the Topic of Tech-Facilitated Violence, Abuse, and Stalking

Note that “domestic violence” is often shortened to “DV.”

  • Another really positive thing happening in Australia is that many of their major banks have created helplines and support specifically for people experiencing financial abuse within a domestic violence context. This is a model we in the US should be following. Read more about it here.
  • The Canadian government has a more aspirational and vague vision around online safety, but at last it’s something. Check it out here.
  • This is a good article from the Washington Post about how terribly tragic and predictable domestic violence homicides are. Not tech-related, but helps frame the importance of what people working on tech-facilitated DV are doing, and what we’re trying to ultimately prevent.
  • Sara Wachter-Boettcher and Eric Meyer created stress testing, which is important for inclusive design and emotional/psychological safety. Learn more about it in this interview with Sara Wachter-Boettcher and this writeup of one of Eric Meyer’s talks on the subject.
  • This article from The Guardian is about how when fitness app Strava released their data, they unknowingly revealed the locations of US military bases abroad, along with other sensitive information. It’s a good example of why tech companies need to take the time to think through all the implications of their actions, and why impact matters more than intent.
  • Kat Zhou created this Design Ethically framework to help designers learn the basics of ethical decision making.
  • Designer Dan Brown wrote this piece, UX in the Age of Abusability, and it covers the practicalities of what it looks like to be a designer trying to do the right thing, and it’s jut really good.
  • This article is a horrifying look at how a man easily convinced other men to let him into the hotel room of a woman who he then brutally raped. This doesn’t have anything to do with tech, but I really think that there’s some kind of tech solution that could have prevented this. It’s an extreme case of why we need to plan for abuse cases.
  • The last two years have seen a lot more coverage of how Internet of Things “Smart” home technology is being used for abuse. This New York Times article Thermostats, Locks and Lights: Digital Tools of Domestic Abuse is a great place to start. This Refinery 29 article covers the problem as it’s happening in Canada, and DV advocates who are fighting back. This article describes how a woman was stalked and tormented when her ex used the Land Rover app connected to her car to track her location and mess with the windows and temperature. This article is a case study about a woman whose husband, while thousands of miles away, would torment her by blasting music, TV, and lights in the middle of the night, among other things.
  • On a related note, the home surveillance tools like the Ring doorbell are rife with security issues. This article explains all the creepy things people who have hacked into strangers’ Rings have done (like talking to their kids!) and is chock-full of links to more stories. (Please. Don’t use Ring.)
  • This article from the Washington Post is about how companies are starting to ask their employees to give up health information in order to “help” them, but it can get creepy fast — like when employers track their employee’s pregnancies, and the potential for discrimination becomes obvious. If you’re not a member, you can read this post summarizing the article and giving some opinions about why this use of tech is so creepy.
  • This doesn’t have anything to do with the tech side of things, but it’s really important that people who want to work in this space understand how common it is for men to be survivors, and to include them in your work. This factsheet from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence is a good intro. You should also read this factsheet about Native women, who experience DV at a much higher rate than other groups.
  • Eva Galperin is working to get malware identification companies to recognize spyware as malware, and alert users when its installed on their devices. This article from Wired explains more. Eva Galperin is someone everyone interested in these topics should be watching.
  • This article discusses both spyware/stalkerware and how “benign” location tracking apps are misused for stalking. If you’re up for a whole study on the topic, this study is about how abusers misuse technology, and how they have so many options to do so that it’s “a stalker’s paradise.”
  • This article gets at a very important topic people often bring up when it comes to creepy stalkerware: “but I’m using it to keep my kids safe!” It makes a good argument for not using stalkerware to spy on your children, and how the products that market themselves as tools to “keep your kids safe” are often actually used for stalking and monitoring unconsenting adults.
  • This article, Superhuman is Spying on You, launched the backlash against an email client called Superhuman, which would let you see when someone had opened your email and location information as specific as the state they were in each time they opened it. Their CEO penned this response. See if you spot the ways that he’s not actually going to start prioritizing the safety of survivors and people being stalked. Also see if you can think of a scenario where knowing the state someone is in would be enough information to figure out exactly where they are. I can think of one just from the last few years within my friend group.
  • Here’s another good study, for the people out there who want to dig into complex academic language. It’s titled Digital Technologies and Intimate Partner Violence: A Qualitative Analysis with Multiple Stakeholders.
  • RightsCon is a very cool conference that I’d love to attend or speak at someday. Simply perusing the list of their former speakers and topics is a great way to learn about ways that people are working for justice, often with a technology focus.
  • I feel self-conscious about this, but here’s a link to a recent video of my talk, Designing Against Domestic Violence. This is a link to a version with US statistics, this is one with Canadian statistics, and this is a transcript of one with Australian statistics.

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