Surveillance Self Defense

Design ➝ Branding
Editorial and branding design for Surveillance Self-Defense.

This was my senior thesis for my Bachelors of Science degree in Visual Communication Design at San Francisco State University. I presented this at the San Francisco State University Undergraduate Research Scholarly and Creative Activities (URSCA) showcase in 2018.

What's The Problem?

The Internet is threatened. Surveillance is now the norm. How can people protect themselves from surveillance ? How can we act on this opportunity and create more accessible and understandable routes to preserve our privacy?

This project explores an issue that effects us all - Digital Surveillance. I redesigned the branding for a digital rights non-profit called the Electronic Frontier Foundation and developed a new product, a “Surveillance Self Defense Guide” (SSD Guide), containing informational booklets, posters, and packaged software which help facilitate discussion between individuals about digital communication.


Education is the clearest way to change. With a physical peer-to-peer network of information exchange I hope to get users already knowledgeable about the subject of surveillance involved, with this brands products SSD Guide will help facilitate the education on the use of a variety of subjects but focusing on one of the most important and widely used - Email. PGP Email Encryption will be discussed at length within this guide with interactive handouts, discussion material and graphical material.

The Vehicle

I wanted the messaging behind this rebrand to enthusiastically promote real physical connection and communication exchange as a means to an end of the problem of digital surveillance. A back to basics approach invloved creating two informational booklets explaining how to go about onces personal and professional life online in a safer manner. Interspersed were large illustrated spreads showing surveillance sites found throughout the world. These booklets provide information and “good practice behavior” to staying secure as well as general information about security software and strategies to exchange information without prying eyes. These booklets were printed by hand using a RZ390 Risograph, with each kit including several 1/2 scale booklets that the user can provide to their peers.

The full booklet can be seen below:


Accompanying the booklets was a large 30"x40" poster with a reflective backing. This poster provided a centerpiece of discussion, letting the user gloss over the booklets contents all at once while reviewing specific pieces of information or chatting with a friend about the importance of its contents. Scattered throughout were images found within the booklet and pieces of information about the history of surveillance.



Cyber security is a process, not a tool you buy. Through thoughtful planning you can assess what is necessary for your own personal security. With tools like the Surveillance Self Defense Guide, people can better educate their family and friends and help protech them.

© 2021 Dominic Decarlo


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