People’s Tech for People’s Power: A Guide To Digital Self-Defense & Empowerment

88 Pages Posted: 14 Jan 2021

See all articles by Michael Kwet

Michael Kwet

Yale University - Information Society Project

Date Written: September 1, 2020


As we progress into the 21st century, digital technology is changing every part of society. With the spread of computers and the internet, enormous amounts of information is being collected by governments and corporations. This guide, which is tailored to the South African context – but applicable to other societies – will equip you with the info needed to protect yourself against government and corporate spying. It provides you with knowledge about People’s Tech for People’s Power: technologies which empower individuals and societies to control their own digital experiences.

This guide contextualises the issue of surveillance to its root causes. Problems of privacy, security, and surveillance connect to the broader themes of capitalism and authoritarianism. People’s Tech is essential to creating a more prosperous society that replaces digital capitalism with digital socialism – a society in which the people directly own and control the means of computation, and develop it for the well-being of humanity instead of profit and control.

Content is for both beginners and more experienced readers, as well as academic audiences. The material explains some of the fundamentals of 21st century surveillance in South Africa, touch upon themes of digital colonialism, and suggest what people can do to protect themselves from surveillance and empower their society.

Drafts were peer reviewed by academics and cybersecurity experts. The author is responsible for all final content. Written for the Right2Know Campaign, this publication is licensed under CC BY-ND 4.0 International.

Keywords: digital colonialis, surveillance capitalism, privacy, surveillance, Big Tech, big data, cybersecurity

Suggested Citation

Kwet, Michael, People’s Tech for People’s Power: A Guide To Digital Self-Defense & Empowerment (September 1, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Michael Kwet (Contact Author)

Yale University - Information Society Project ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States

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