Hi, I’m Becky. I’m a researcher and facilitator working on human rights issues, with a focus on privacy and digital security.

Since September 2015 I am a doctoral candidate and researcher at the University of Amsterdam. I work within the European Research Council-funded DATACTIVE project on the politics of big data according to civil society. I am doubly affiliated with the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research and the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis. I sometimes lecture at the Informatics Institute on data ethics and privacy for data scientists.

For two years prior I was Lead Programme Researcher at Tactical Tech, conducting field-based research on privacy and digital security. I also contributed to programatic development of projects such as Myshadow.org, and facilitated numerous workshops and trainings on privacy and digital security in a number of different contexts and countries. The goal of my research at Tactical Tech was to support the work of human rights defenders and the usability of FLOSS tools. The full research report on the digital security challenges of human rights defenders can be found here. Related materials are here. You can also read an academic analysis of the research outcomes in this peer-reviewed article. If you’re interested in methodological issues around research on human rights, privacy and digital security please see this co-authored paper presented at the Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium here.

From 2011-2013 I was a research consultant on Internet policy with a focus on privacy and internet access, for the Ford Foundation’s Advancing Media Rights and Access Initiative.

From 2010-2012 I received a masters degree in Interactive Telecommunications Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at NYU. I focused on human computer interaction and digital ethnography.


2011-2012 I wrote about networked politics and privacy issues for TechPresident. Techpresident was recently discontinued. Its spirit lives on at Civic Hall .

2008-2009 I researched community informatics and contributed to the design of local currencies and community-centered systems of play for the Knight Foundation and UNICEF.

Selected Writing on Tech, Privacy & Digital Security

DIGITAL SECURITY IN CONTEXT: LEARNING HOW HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS ADOPT DIGITAL SECURITY PRACTICES An action-oriented research project on the digital security challenges of human rights defenders. Completed in November, 2015.
Privacy, Responsibility, and Human Rights Activism Peer-reviewed article published in Fibreculture Journal, January, 2016.
Tensions and frictions in researching activists’ digital security and privacy practices presented at the Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium in Philadelphia, July 2015.
Addressing the Right to Privacy in 2015 Op-ed for Internet Policy Review
Internet Governance for Activists? Reflections on IGF 2014
What is a Digital Shadow? Animation Co-script writer, Co-producer, Myshadow.org
What Does Prism Mean for Me? Written for Myshadow.org
Myshadow contributing writer, producer, editor
Does Encryption Still Work? Feature co-written in 2013 for Security In a Box
Data Protection in Europe: blog post reflections on CPDP
Anonymous:Analysis of group structure Written for Clay Shirky at the Interactive Telecommunications Program
Politics & Internet Timeline Co-researched with Micah Sifry
Mesh Network Connects Sandy Survivors Written for TechPresident

Teaching & Facilitation

10/16 Creation of 4-lecture module on Big Data Ethics in new Data Science Masters program, at the Informatics Institute at the University of Amsterdam.
5/16 Guest lecture on ‘privacy vs. security?’ at the Informatics Institute at the University of Amsterdam.
11/15 Ethics and Digital Security: Workshop at the Connected Development Festival, the Hague, Netherlands.
6/13-9/15: Regular workshop Facilitator and digital security trainer with Tactical Technology Collective, working with human rights defenders in different countries.
12/13 Mobilize! Whatever Happened to Privacy? Workshop: How to make Privacy Tangible, Berlin, Germany.
10/13 Mozilla Festival 2013: Workshop: A Civics Education for Privacy London, UK.
8/13 Observe Hack Make 2013: Workshop: Designing Security Tools, UX/UI, and Trainings for Inexperienced Users Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Selected Talks & Conference Papers on Privacy & Digital Security:

4/17 Paper:Calculating & Countering Surveillance Risks in an Environment of Ubiquitous Sensing, at the Sensor Publics workshop, TU Munich, Germany.
4/17 Paper: Reasoning Through Risks to Privacy and Security, at the Human Rights in the Digital Age workshop at Queens College, Cambridge, UK.
9/16 Big Data Meet Grassroots Activism: Fishbowl discussion at the Association of Internet Researchers Conference, Berlin, Germany.
9/16 Paper: Staying in the Game: digital security, risk & responsibilisation in human rights work: Presentation at the University of Amsterdam workshop Authoritarianism in a Global Age.
4/16 Instrumentalising Risk to Conduct & Resist Surveillance: Presentation at the annual Surveillance and Society Conference in Barcelona.
10/15 We Can Do it: panel on gender, activism, and technology at Goldsmiths, London, UK.
7/15 Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium: Presentation on research ethics with regards to privacy, digital security and human rights, Philadelphia, USA.
6/15 Surveillance and Citizenship Conference at Cardiff University: Presentation on relevance of Snowden leaks for human rights defenders, Wales, UK.
5/15 Re:publica: Panel: Next up on the Political Agenda: Cybersecurity, Berlin, Germany.
3/15 Righstcon: Southeast Asia, presentation on Security in Context research, Manila, Philippines.
3/15 European Network for Conflict Research presentation on civil society and surveillance, Bonn, Germany.
2/15 Roundtable on Human Rights in the Digital Age, Goldsmiths, London, UK.
1/15 MECCSA 2015:The Techno-Utopian Dream of Mesh Networks: A Critical & Historical Perspective, Newcastle, UK.
9/14 Reporters Without Borders, EU Guidelines for Human Rights Defenders: panel on Threats of Communications Surveillance, Berlin, Germany.
6/14 University of York Center for Applied Human rights protection roundtable, Presentation: Digital Security as Protection Practice? University of York, UK.
5/14 Re:Publica 2014: Talk: Paths Towards Autonomy, Berlin, Germany.
5/14 Re:Publica 2014: Talk: Data in international development: how even the best of intentions can pave the road to surveillance with Zara Rahman, Berlin, Germany.
6/13 Personal Democracy Forum 2013: Panel on Disaster resilience after Hurricane Sandy New York, New York.

Contact me at becky k (at) riseup (dot) net