Applied research

Tactical Tech began formally conducting applied research in 2014.

Areas of research

1. Research which looks directly at our own work and the sectors we work in: digital security and privacy, internet freedom, digital activism, investigation, journalism, information activism, and visual politics, among others.

2. We are building an evidence base to develop critical perspectives on the politics of information in areas that we're connected to but don't necessarily work in directly. These include ICT4D (Information and Communication Technologies for Development), and a newer area called Technology for Transparency and Accountability (T4TA).

Tactical Tech's Applied Research area of work allows us to:

  • raise questions about how political, legal, technical and other developments in the technology sector affect human rights and freedom of expression
  • engage in critical debate on how social media operates in framing the politics of visuals, debates, and ideologies
  • critically reframe debates and practices within both the advocacy and the digital security training sectors
  • document and assess our own work, and loop the results back into our own practices.

Current projects


This two-year project broadly evaluates the history, practice and methods of digital security and privacy training and education. It sets out to answer the following questions:

  • How do we know that what human rights activists learn in our digital security trainings helps them change their behaviour and adopt new and safer digital practices?
  • What is the ‘after-life’ of digital security trainings?
  • How do people adapt to changing digital threats?

It is comprised of two research studies; the first is a qualitative documentation and evaluation of the practices of digital security trainers in their own words; the second is based on three in-depth case studies looking at how context influences digital security practices of human rights defenders, and how networks of solidarity and training can help to support and spread effective practices.

ANONYMITY, VISIBILITY AND THE FLIP SIDE OF TECHNOLOGY FOR TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY This year-long project looks at the risks and barriers perceived by two marginal communities of activists in Africa. It is inspired by the recognition that in a quantified society there is a ceiling to technology-enabled activism for transparency and accountability. How can citizens and governments engage in meaningful dialogue through technology interfaces when governments are actively persecuting or marginalising citizens through violence and criminalisation? What happens when these citizens are marginal in society and have fewer social safety nets and social capital to protect themselves?

WRITING FOR LEARNING AND SHARING, BOTH INTERNALLY AND WITH OTHERS Writing and research to investigate ideas for ourselves, and to compile and share our learnings with others. Some recent offerings:


Two articles in Fibreculture journal.