Privacy By Design For Everyone

Launched in 2020, The Microgrants and Small Project Support program is designed to support digital security and privacy education and software development through low overhead financial support to organizations and individuals working on projects that support the Calyx Institute's mission. We accept applications for our themed funds subject to certain restrictions detailed in the call for proposal pages. General grants and project support are currently by invitation only.

In 2020, we provided financial support to the following projects through our general fund:

The Tech Learning Collective (TLC), which provides a security-first IT infrastructure curriculum to otherwise underserved communities and organizations advancing social justice causes. TLC is developing an online intermediate-level digital security lab to teach users the basics of how to operate self-hosted digital infrastructure.

We coordinated with national security reporters Alexa O'Brien and Marcy Wheeler to ensure timely coverage of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. JOSHUA ADAM SCHULTE trial through the daily procurement of the trial transcripts to assist journalists and reporters in covering the court case of the accused Vault 7 leaker. The Vault 7 leaks were one of the largest leaks of information from the CIA, and understanding what happened and how the U.S. government responded is crucial for the public’s knowledge of the privacy and security vulnerabilities the world’s digital networks face. The transcripts are hosted with other related exhibits and court documents by Alexa O'Brien. Transcripts for the 2022 retrial are hosted on our website here.

MuckRock Foundation’s Hacking History Freedom of Information Act project, which aims to educate the public on the cyber domain, government investigations, and hacktivism by identifying and filing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for the hundreds of thousands of pages of documents on hackers, hacking groups, and high profile hacks. With over 500 FOIA requests filed, this project is informing the public's understanding of the political and legal dimensions of online privacy, digital speech and political organizing, and criminal law relating to cybersecurity through the release and analysis of primary source documents.

SignalBoost is an open-source tool that lets activists, journalists, rapid response workers, and everyone else use the encrypted messaging app Signal to send text blasts and receive hotline tips with minimal metadata exposure. It is designed for situations in which organizers need to spin up secure communications loops quickly for massive groups of strangers. SignalBoost improved the scalability, maintainability, and usability of their tool as part of this grant during a period of rapid growth. Calyx Institute support acted as gateway funding, helping the SignalBoost team focus on the project full-time while pursuing long-term funding. SignalBoost is now fiscally-sponsored by Aspiration Tech, has received Emmerson Collective Fellowships, and received a $100,000 grant from Mozilla.

The Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (S.T.O.P.) is a non-profit advocacy organization and legal services provider that litigates and advocates for privacy, working to abolish local governments’ systems of mass surveillance. S.T.O.P. is producing two educational reports on the impact of Community Control of Police Surveillance (CCOPS) Legislation. The Community Control of Police Surveillance (CCOPS) is a combined effort by a wide range of nonprofits focused on increasing community oversight of and transparency about privacy-invasive technologies used by government agencies and departments throughout the country. Legislation modeled on the CCOPS initiative has passed in over a dozen towns, cities, and counties. The first report, “New CCOPS on the Beat”, was released in February 2021. It examined the range of statutes that have been enacted to date, creating a framework for evaluating the implementation of specific CCOPS laws in varying jurisdictions. A second report will apply this framework to the first round of NYPD privacy and use policies per the POST Act.

Library Freedom Project (LFP) is a privacy-focused community of practice for librarians. LFP’s community of librarians are working with their teen patrons to create high-quality privacy resources for young people focused on their unique needs. Teens regularly make decisions that obfuscate information from certain parties, like principals or parents, and use anti-surveillance strategies such as anonymous accounts or “finstas.” But there remains a need for a robust set of privacy resources made just for teens, on topics they care about, using language and formats they understand. We will build this shareable set of resources with our teen patrons by working with teens from our libraries to create a set of privacy resources for people ages 13-19, prioritizing the needs of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and LGBTQ teens.

Lucy Parsons Labs (LPL) is a charitable Chicago-based collaboration between data scientists, transparency activists, artists, & technologists that sheds light on the intersection of digital rights and on-the-streets issues. LPL is using public records laws to investigate and extensively document where fusion centers are using facial recognition technology. Due to the disparate and decentralized nature of fusion centers, they don’t always share the same tactics, techniques or procedures. LPL will create maps and other visualizations focused on fusion centers to help report the relationships between fusion centers and local police and how technology has proliferated from the federal government to the local level.