The Internet is now an unavoidable necessity for state and non-state actors. At the same time there is a crisis brewing, as governments, corporations, civil society, and militant actors filter, monitor, censor and censure the activities and discussions of citizens worldwide. Although these censorship and surveillance practices take place in the realm of cyberspace, they can have real physical consequences as well. Filtering, monitoring and interception make it possible for hostile actors to find confidential and geographic information that may be used to cause harm. This new insecure environment impacts organizations working in countries that utilize Internet surveillance and filtering, creating an environment where organizations feel obliged to limit use of technologies or, due to lack of knowledge, continue to operate in an insecure manner.
The goal of the CiviSec Project is to address issues of Internet censorship, surveillance and infowar on three levels. First, it will address them by raising awareness through advocacy as to the prevalence and consequences of filtering practices and insecure communications around the world. Second, the CiviSec project will develop specific software and networking tools to allow non-expert users to detect filtering and/or insecure communications and to circumvent or mitigate these practices in the safest possible manner. Third, the project will develop online resources accessible to non-technical experts covering both methods and means for securing communications, as well as providing relevant background material. By bringing together software developers, researchers and civil society actors along each of these three levels, the CiviSec Project will create both software and instructional guides that empower organizations to determine their own specific needs and take informed action when implementing privacy and security solutions.