Icons to help you talk about privacy

/ April 24, 2015

Icons can help communicate complex ideas around privacy and surveillance in a visual way. There are several resources that you might find helpful:

Jessica Klein has created a set of Privacy Icons (or Privicons), free for re-use under a Creative Commons licence. The Noun Project is also a great source of Creative Commons-licensed icons – check out the Surveillance collection, or search for privacy.

OpenITP held an event at the Circumvention Tech Festival in March in which security trainers with experience in Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Russia worked together to develop icons:

Trainers’ metaphors for explaining trust and privacy are hugely important — particularly given that they confirm that concepts about keys, fingerprints, and certificates are among the most difficult things to get trainees to internalize.

Participants at the event came up with these results.

Finally, here is Nathan Freitas on the Guardian Project’s system of labelling apps to communicate the benefits and risks it brings to users:



Have you used any of these icons? Are any missing? Let us know in the comments.

About the contributor

Tom started out writing and editing for newspapers, consultancies and think tanks on topics including politics and corruption in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, then moved into designing and managing election-related projects in countries including Myanmar, Bangladesh, Rwanda and Bolivia. After getting interested in what data and technology could add in those areas and elsewhere, he made a beeline for The Engine Room. Tom is trying to read all of the Internet, but mostly spends his time picking out useful resources and trends for organisations using technology in their work.

See Tom's Articles

Leave a Reply

Related /

/ March 28, 2019

Responsible Data Resource List

/ February 15, 2018

Practitioners reflect on their experience of responsible data

/ April 13, 2016

The Release of “The Hand-Book of the Modern Development Specialist”