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Project Secret Identity helps cosplayers fight online surveillance

Project Secret Identity is using cosplay to raise awareness about government surveillance. 


Gavia Baker-Whitelaw


Posted on Aug 30, 2014   Updated on May 30, 2021, 4:32 pm CDT

Selfies may seem like an odd choice of medium for an Internet privacy campaign, but that’s how cosplayers are making their voices heard at Dragon Con this weekend.

Project Secret Identity is supported by io9, the Organization for Transformative Works, the Harry Potter Alliance, and various other fandom communities, and is using cosplay to raise awareness about government surveillance on private online activity.

“In J.K. Rowling’s novels, Voldemort came to power not only through coercion, but by monitoring, controlling, and censoring the Wizarding World’s lines of communication,” said Paul DeGeorge from the Harry Potter Alliance. “What we have is the Internet and we need to fight to keep it free and secure.”

The project sees cosplayers at Dragon Con and around the world take photos holding up signs with slogans like “Privacy is not a fantasy” and “I have a right to a secret identity.”

Hello, I’m the Doctor! Doctor who? Doctor none of your business!

— EFF (@EFF) August 29, 2014

The campaign ties into Dragon Con’s Electronic Frontiers Forum track, which includes panels and lectures on the topic of Internet privacy and freedom of speech.

Burn the land and boil the sea, you can’t take my privacy: Join us online or at #DragonCon!

— EFF (@EFF) August 29, 2014

Thanks to the current vogue for dystopian fiction, there’s a wealth of different references to choose from. 1984 is obviously an old favorite, but The Hunger Games and Person of Interest both lend themselves very well to a protest against government surveillance.

Photo via Project Secret Identity

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*First Published: Aug 30, 2014, 6:08 pm CDT