LGBTQ+ people deserve privacy

14 Dec 2023
3 min read

For LGBTQ+ people across the globe, privacy can be a matter of life and death.

Security advice that does not consider both the vital necessity for LGBTQ+ people to hide their identity in many situations and the psychological toll this necessity takes, puts about 10% of the population in danger, said Fennel Aurora (he/him), F‑Secure’s Product Management Community Lead.

Data collection — a necessary evil?

One example that shows how even efforts to increase equitable treatment for people of all genders and sexual orientations comes from the United States, where the Biden administration is attempting to collect more data on LGBTQ+ citizens to increase access to essential services.

Given the regressive political atmosphere across much of the country, activists are rightly raising concerns that this data could be used to endanger the people this collection is designed to help, Aurora said. Many LGBTQ+ people face the risk of being fired or not hired, with little recourse. Why should they offer their private information to a revolving government that may persecute them?

So much to consider

While Pride is a time to proudly celebrate progress, equity and opportunity, the excessive burdens LGBTQ+ internet users face can’t be ignored.

Aurora offered a variety of questions these users face about their online activity that others are rarely forced to consider. Do you tag your location on your social media posts? What about that post last night from a queer nightclub? Are you sure you trust every­one who can see your posts?

And that’s just the beginning, especially for younger people who face not only the scrutiny of society but their own families, who may or may not be supportive of their exploring their sexuality or gender.

The LGBTQ+ community faces higher risks of homelessness and a higher percentage turning to more dangerous forms of sex work, Aurora said. While the internet offers freedom that didn’t exist a generation ago, it hasn’t erased these sad realities.

Expert tip

Beware using your phone in a country that is fully intercepting data traffic. The fact that you are sending traffic to an LGBTQ+ dating app, such as Grindr, is visible, unless you are using a VPN — and in some of the same countries VPNs may well be blocked in that country or using one may result in unwanted police attention.

Fennel Aurora
Product Management Community Lead
Paris, France