About Off Guard

Questions and Answers

What is off.guard?

Off.guard is a tool created by Civil Rights Defenders that aims to increase access to information in critical situations during internet shutdowns, slowdowns or blackouts.

How does Off.guard work?

Off.guard is built using a module called service worker. By accepting push notifications in “settings”, Off.guard will be able to remain active in the background of your browser and continue to update. Even when a poor connection is detected your feed with information updates using web-push notifications, without the need of your attention. In case the internet would be shut down, off.guard always saves the created feed using cookies.

Who can use off.guard?

Off.guard can be used by anyone. It was however specifically designed for human rights defenders and others who live in regions where problems like internet shutdowns, censorship, and internet throttling occur more frequently.

What makes off.guard unique?

Off.guard was built with the intention to make important information accessible for as many people as possible. Other services often require users to have basic tech knowledge, vpn, registrations, or downloads. Off.guard on the other hand is accessible for anyone with a web browser. Since the website remains active in the background, it automatically detects a connection and updates without the need of your attention. Every update is saved on your device which means that even if your connection is lost, your access to information isn’t. Your feed with the latest information is still available offline.

Are internet shutdowns, slowdowns and blackouts real problems?

In 2022, there were over 187 reports of internet shutdowns, slowdowns and blackouts in 35 countries. It has become a frequently used tool of government repression in the 21st century. Freedom of expression and access to information are included in our fundamental rights and freedoms as seen in the united nation’s article 19. Any limitation or disruptions should be seen as a violation of those rights.

Will off.guard stop human rights violations?

Off.guard is not a tool that prevents internet shutdowns, slowdowns or blackouts. It is a service that aims to prevent the negative consequences of these violations, for activists, human rights defenders and for the wider public.

What are internet slowdowns and bandwidth throttling?

Throttling in the context of internet shutdowns is an intentional slowing of an internet service by an internet service provider. Since slowdowns are much harder to detect, many will fail to report or even suspect intentional bandwidth tampering. In addition to being hard to detect, throttling does not take countries “off the grid” entirely, and many believe that more and more governments will therefore resort to this kind of shutdown as a way to escape accountability.

What about my privacy and cookies settings?

We would never share data or information with any third party or external source. We use cache/cookies to save a copy of off.guard so that it will be available when your network connection is lost. We don’t save or store any information.

What if Off.guard gets blocked?

Off.guard will not end internet tampering or shutdowns. Our intention with this project is first and foremost to raise awareness about these violations and at the same time be able to ease the negative consequences for people in need.

Why isn’t Off.guard available/accessible from all browsers?

The current technical solution in off.guard is only currently supported in Google Chrome on Android devices. According to data the vast majority of people in affected countries are on Android devices. However, our intention is of course to make it available to as many people and operating systems as we can.

Who are Civil Rights Defenders?

Civil Rights Defenders is a politically and religiously independent human rights organisation, founded in Sweden. Our vision is a world of democratic societies in which we all enjoy our civil and political rights. We defend civil and political rights together with local human rights defenders to increase their security, capacity, and access to justice. Read more about our work here: https://crd.org