Project Idea

Inspired by Paulo Freire’s popular education philosophy, I would like to curate a series of cybersecurity workshops for immigrant and refugee communities. Many of our immigrant and refugee community members are not aware of the power that Big Tech has.

Specifically, Big Tech has proven to favor the side of the oppressors, or institutions that have the economic power to invest thousands to millions of dollars in creating more sophisticated infrastructures and tools to oppress. For example, Palantir and Amazon have actively contributed to Homeland Security’s deportation machine by creating better communication and surveillance systems for Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and even the police. So, how can undocumented immigrants, refugees, and even immigration justice activists and organizers do to protect themselves from cyber-surveillance? What information, skills, and tools do we need to become cybersecurity literate? And how can we resist cyber-surveillance?

Ultimately, the purpose of this workshop series is to inform impacted communities about the risks and pitfalls of living in digital societies while taking into account their (imposed) identities as racialized, gendered, and classed people.

In terms of the technicality of this work, I’d like to create a few videos explaining key concepts. I’d also have to find a digital platform that can house these videos since I don’t (yet) know how to create websites… but learning WordPress could also be a skill I pick up along the way. We’ll see.

11 thoughts on “Project Idea”

  1. Your choice of topic will only grow in relevance as time moves on. There is a whole new push in history to talk about Surveillance Capitalism. Some argue that it is the next evolving form of Capitalism. I will recommend Tug of War by Prof. Jocelyn Wills. In it, she examines the rise of State Surveillance intertwined with military contracting. Big Tech, particularly satellite networks place a role in the operation. The promise of technology has been co-opted, and a project like yours is desperately needed.

  2. Thanks Joanna– I’m super excited about your project, which will combine pedagogy, scholarship, outreach, activism, and technical elements.

    A few notes/questions: you say you’ll “curate a series of cybersecurity workshops.” By curate, do you mean assemble from existing materials, or build from scratch (build, buy, borrow, beg)? You also note your intention to create videos. How do the videos (which suggest asynchronous engagement) connect with the concept of a workshop (which suggests a synchronous experience)? Are these resources intended to be ongoing, or ephemeral?

    How will you bring this to the community? Or, the community to this?

    This list of questions–

    So, how can undocumented immigrants, refugees, and even immigration justice activists and organizers do to protect themselves from cyber-surveillance? What information, skills, and tools do we need to become cybersecurity literate? And how can we resist cyber-surveillance?

    are excellent questions to guide you through the literature towards the construction of a curriculum. In addition to the work Francisco references, check out the work of Simone Brown, Ruha Benjamin, Safiya Noble, David Lyon, Gary Marx, and others in surveillance studies and critical internet studies.

    Looking forward to seeing this develop!

    1. Luke,

      Thank you for your comments and suggestions. I’m excited to check out their works!

      I’d like to do both: make short educational videos (say 5 mins) where I describe key terms (e.g. cybersecurity, surveillance capitalism, algorithms of oppression, Big Tech, among others). I’m leading the cybersecurity team for the CUNY Initiative on Immigration and Education ( I’d like to do something similar to the ITP student who made the videos on bilingual education. I’d like to offer my educational videos to CUNY-IIE, which means that the videos can be housed on their website.

      Secondly, I’d like to write a curriculum for a popular educational workshop (Spanish-English bilingual). This workshop will aim to (a) in collaboration with immigrants and refugees collectively think about technology and our tech use, and (b) inform immigrants and refugees about cyber-surveillance as well as cybersecurity strategies. The workshop will be available in word doc and pdf and hopefully also housed on the CUNY-IIE website.

      The videos can be used as additional resources for the pop ed workshops.

      This is a preliminary idea. I’d really like to make the videos happen, but I don’t have much experience with video editing tools or graphic design. Any ideas?

      1. Sounds simply terrific.

        Re: video, I am happy to make an introduction to Sara Vogel, who produced the videos on bilingual education… I’m sure she’d be happy to talk to you about strategies. And, stay tuned for some workshops on video production that will be part of the Carnegie Ed Tech Fellows program– should have those announced relatively soon. Mike Mena is the fellow who will be running those, and he should also be available to meet with you. I also think there’s benefit to you thinking about your planning in dialogue with @awashington, given her project.

        We might start to think about which elements of this project will constitute your ITP work, and which are beyond it– we don’t want the scope of the curriculum and the potential complexity of the videos to hold you up. At the same time, they are obviously connected and need to be considered in dialogue. That relationship between the videos and the broader curriculum is something you might think through (i.e., it may be that the videos become your ITP project, and the curriculum in which they are embedded is developed over a longer period of time). We can discuss.

        1. Hi Luke,

          Thanks for your reply.

          For the purpose of my final ITP project, would it be ‘enough’ to coordinate with CUNY-IIE, make the videos, and house them on the CUNY-IIE website (so idea #1)? I think I need a bit more clarity as to the ‘enoughness’ of my project since it feels as though I have to come up with a groundbreaking project–This comes from pressuring/encouraging myself to do something spectacular that has a lot of components, but I’m not sure if that is what is expected of me for the purpose of the final project. I believe you already answered my question in your previous post, but I wanted to be sure to ask in case I misinterpreted anything.

          Yes, I’d love to be in conversation with Sara Vogel. Could you please put us in touch?

          I’ll reach out to Mike Mena. I believe I have his email.

          1. I think I need a bit more clarity as to the ‘enoughness’ of my project since it feels as though I have to come up with a groundbreaking project

            I think that what you are proposing fits within the scope of an ITP project. As (or even more) important is developing the language to talk about the project, your contributions, how they are in dialogue with the work you’ve done in ITP, and how they fit within your scholarly trajectory. We’ll be talking much more about this, but, in short, the process is the thing more than the product.

            I will follow up re: Sara. Have a good week!

  3. I am very excited by this project and since part of my job is working in an ESOL program for adults, are challenges that I’ve frequently witnessed. What’s also challenging is that often immigrants and refugees may be submitting to Big Tech surveillance in order to receive education and other support services! I am very excited to see the outcomes of this project!

    1. Absolutely!
      I want to center the principle of self-determination. Immigrants and refugees can make a choice (to give up their data rights or not) but only after they know the implications – kind of like informed consent but more critical, educational, and consent-centered.

  4. I love your project, Joanna! As time moves forward, the surveillance of Black and Brown bodies will only continue. From a community organizing POV, I think this is a great project for one to interact with immigrant communities. I wonder how these videos will accessible to them? Maybe doing workshops with parents and children. You’re always welcomed to the bookshop I work in to do so 🙂 I also suggest reading (if you have not already) Simone Brownes “Dark Matter”. Looking forward to how this project develops, it sounds amazing already

    1. Thank you for the suggestions and for offering me space at the bookshop, what an honor!
      I will reflect on your questions about community involvement/work. If anything, I think this is one, if not, the most important question/component of my project.
      I’ll read Simone’s work. Looking forward to it!

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