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K. ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS, THE INTERNET, AND PRIVACY

(See also Guideline M.3. Social Media and Communication Applications)

The Internet can be a useful tool for communicating and organizing efficiently when used thoughtfully and inclusively. For example, online meetings have made organizing international events much easier. They, in general, are more environmentally friendly.

We understand that not everyone has access to Internet services and email. (See Guideline G.11. Online, Hybrid, and Satellite Workshops.)

K.1. Internet Safety[140]

As the world situation evolves, electronic surveillance and misuse of data can put RC Community members at risk.

No electronic data or communication system can completely avoid being compromised. Many online tools, including most email and social media systems, are known to be compromised. They should be avoided when dealing with sensitive data and communications.

All commercially operated services—such as Google, Microsoft, Meta/Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Apple, and Mailchimp—actively exploit their users’ data. (Zoom is also compromised, but we haven’t yet found a good alternative for large meetings.) Data related to connections and associations among people (also known as “metadata”)—from email lists, lists of social media “friends,” contacts lists, shared documents, and so on—can be combined and used to surveil, target, and manipulate individuals and groups.

In many countries, Co-Counselors (along with all individuals, organizations, and companies) are legally required to protect their own privacy and that of other RC Community members. The following are some ways to do that:

  1. When sending personal or sensitive data[141] using less secure methods like email, Co-Counselors should encrypt the information and use passwords—and send the passwords in a separate email or by other alternative means. (Encryption makes unauthorized reading unlikely, as too many resources are needed to decrypt it, even if the encryption is of low quality.)
  2. Using “blind carbon copy” (Bcc) (a way to hide the email addresses of recipients) when emailing groups of more than fifteen (15) recipients is another way to stop the spreading of information beyond our email service. If discussion among the recipients is necessary, contact information should be included in a password-protected document.
  3. When communications about RC classes, workshops, support groups, sessions, work groups, or other activities involve collecting and sharing personal or sensitive data, Co-Counselors should move away from using any online tools, applications (apps), or other services that fail to protect privacy. Instead, they should use the secure facilities on the RC website. This is because the website encrypts documents and uses passwords to prevent data from being taken and misused. (To access these facilities, people need to create their own account on the website.) Co-Counselors can use social media services when bringing the work of RC into the broader society—as with Sustaining All Life, United to End Racism, No Limits for Women, and Jews and Allies United to End Antisemitism—but doing so means they have agreed to make their personal contact information public.
  4. The RC Community will highlight new systems that protect people’s privacy as they are discovered.[142]
  5. Co-Counselors are encouraged to discharge any feelings, including feelings of fear and powerlessness, attached to technology, surveillance, and capitalism.

(See Guideline K.5. Handling of Personal and Sensitive Data by Organizers and Co-Counselors, for more details on handling data safely.)

REASON

The Internet can make it easier to communicate and organize efficiently. However, because its users are increasingly vulnerable to targeting, we need to minimize the risks it can pose to RC Community members.

Internet security depends not only on technology but also on where data is kept, how it is handled, and who has access to it.

The RC Community's website, owned by the RC Community, is much more secure than free or commercial Internet services. (See Guideline K.2. The RC Community Websites.)

Changing circumstances require that we keep up-to-date with effective ways to maintain privacy.

Discharging feelings about technology, surveillance, and capitalism will help us think clearly about our use of the Internet.


[140] This Guideline has the force of a requirement for being part of the RC Community. 

[141] Personal data include name, email address, phone number, and social media IDs. Sensitive data include physical location, birthdate, constituency, special needs, diet, language, financial data, and similar information.

[142] See: rc.org/privacytools for a regularly updated list of systems that protect privacy.


Last modified: 2024-02-21 21:51:20+00