Tools for Citizens

The recent UX Sprint for Security & Privacy Tools in San Francisco featured a great list of projects that work to empower citizens. Most center on:

  • How can we enable citizens to communicate free of government surveillance? and
  • How can we help people report on & document atrocities and abuses?

Here is a list of the projects, with links to fuller documentation — as inspiration in what’s possible in empowering citizens and protecting them from government monitoring.

Guardian Project:
The Guardian Project creates easy-to-use open source apps, mobile OS security enhancements, and customized mobile devices for people around the world to help them communicate more freely, and protect themselves from intrusion and monitoring.


commotionCommotion Wireless:
Commotion is an open-source communication toolkit that uses mobile phones, computers, and other wireless devices such as routers to make it possible for communities to set up decentralized mesh networks and share local services. Deployed already in a handful of U.S. cities and internationally, it is a key tool for internet freedom, providing alternatives where surveillance and censorship compromise traditional infrastructure.



Martus is a secure and open-source human rights documentation system used by human rights initiatives to document and preserve evidence and testimonies of human rights violations.




is an open source app for making and publishing multimedia stories with any Android phone or device, as safely and securely as possible. It provides an interactive storytelling training guide, walkthroughs, and templates for users to follow as they plan their story and capture media. The app then helps assemble the content into a finished format that can be shared directly with social media or anywhere– no computer editing station required, even for video!




Lantern is a network of people working together to defeat internet censorship around the world. Install and share Lantern, our new peer-to-peer censorship circumvention software, to give or get access to people in places where access is censored




the serval projectThe Serval Project:
Serval is a telecommunications system comprised of at least two mobile phones that are able to work outside of regular mobile phone tower range due thanks to the Serval App and Serval Mesh.




ChatSecure is a free and open source encrypted chat client for iPhone and Android that supports OTR encryption over XMPP. ChatSecure was originally available for only iOS devices, but is now also available on Android via The Guardian Project’s similar app, formerly named Gibberbot.



Open Whisper Systems:
Whisper Systems produces simple and easy-to-use tools for secure mobile communication and secure mobile storage. Their products include RedPhone and TextSecure, which allow encrypted VoIP phone and text (SMS) communication between users




People’s Intelligence
guardianPeople’s Intelligence is an award winning idea that makes use of USSD, SMS and voice to establish a conversation with victims and witnesses of mass atrocities. The envisaged tool helps victims and witnesses to better document and verify their stories and provides them as well as relevant organisations with actionable information, thereby facilitating early warning and targeted assistance. It supports analysis and allows networking between affected communities, relevant organisations and experts through the use of ubiquitous technologies.





mailvelopeChMailvelope allows individuals to encrypt and decrypt email in their favorite webmail provider following the OpenPGP standard. This includes, among others, Gmail, Yahoo,, and GMX. It integrates directly into the webmail user interface; its elements are non-intrusive and easy to use in a user’s regular workflow.




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