Pre-Trump Preparedness Advice

Edited to add that Harlo and Micah by way of a story in Slate literally beat me to this by 9 minutes, judging from timestamp medatata. So there you go.

Edited to add, again, that there’s a pretty good blog post by Nadim Kobeissi about how Software Does Not Answer a Trump Election which thorougly and somewhat deservedly criticizes the kind of advice I’m giving here. I hope you, dear reader, will of course understand I don’t think mass adoption of HTTPS and Signal will halt encroacing fascism. My goal is to offer a nascent resistance advice (or reminders) about some tools and practices which will help it operate if dissident is furter criminalized. Seasoned activists will already know most of what’s below, but people joining their first protests might need this information before things get even more serious.

There’s a lot of “get Tor, get Signal” type advice floating around the internets in these first days after the US presidential elections. While some, probably not without reason, think this is a bit early and alarmist, I happen to have spent some time working with human rights defenders of various kinds in countries where the proverbial shit was looking like it would drop onto the fan at any moment. So I don’t think it’s too far out to give security advice to people who contemplate opposing their newly elected president. I’ve so to speak been there before.

First and foremost you must understand this: a US president going full fascist (and getting the intelligence community and law enforcement on board with this, which is somewhat unlikely) is probably the worst situation imaginable for anyone using digital technology to organize resistance. Remember how many of the Snowden docs are like five years old. What did Twitter look like in 2011? Facebook? Smartphones? We’ve come a long way since then. A very long way. So has the NSA, I’d wager.

Resisting a US president going full fascist is not going to happen online in any meaningful way. No, not even if you get a ThinkPad and install Qubes and follow the grugq on Twitter. You’re better off studying How to Master Secret Work and investing in a good gas mask.

With that out of the way, this is my attempt at a few simple suggestions which I hope can be useful if opposing the president is your goal and you’re more worried about his fascist followers or the local/regional police. It’s not exacly comprehensive nor authoritative. It’s written from my experiences of context other than the US, and what (non-native and admittedly limited) knowledge I have of the country, its laws and other factors at pla.

With the below technological advice, we’re trying to achieve a few things:

Here is my checklist of tools and practices you should get acquainted with before you need them:

Finally, some words of advice on psychosocial care for self and others:

There are certain things I will not cover, due to lack of experience:

I hope you all understand this document is at best provisional, and written by someone with no experience in political organization in the US. But I hope it gives a couple of pointers to people who are worried right now.

Stay together, stay strong, and love one another.

With solidarity from Stockholm!

Written by Martin L. Fällman on 10 November 2016