The personal biography of Matt Mitchell aka @geminiimatt

matt mitchell
23 min readApr 28, 2017

updated: January 1st, 2024


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Mateo ( geminiimatt ) a.k.a matt mitchell , photo by Nick Lee

“In computing command line, there is a command: $whoami. It invokes info on the user who typed it, echoed out on to the screen. The earliest version of it is credited to Richard Mlynarik. Here is what a real-world ‘whoami’ would echo out about yours truly.” — m

Matt Mitchell is a cybersecurity expert & one of the best hacktivist in the world. Matt is focused on using his skills in service of Black people and all marginalized groups. He is the founder of CryptoHarlem.

December 2021 Newsweek “Special Issue” (photo by Nick Lee)

Quoted in Decmber 2022,New York Times “Your Memories. Their Cloud.”

Matt Mitchell was quoted in this NY Times story on cloud privacy and security


This is an image of the September 9, 2020 Wired Magazine article by GRAHAM HACIA titled “Meet This Year’s WIRED25: People Who Are Making Things Better The scientists, technologists, artists, and chefs who are standing between us and species collapse.”, https://www.wired.com/story/wired25-2020-people-making-things-better/
Matt was featured in the October 2020 issue of WIRED Magazine as part of the WIRED25
In the Spring of 2022, Matt was awarded the Blacks In Cybersecurity Image Award.
In the Fall of 2022, Matt was recognized as a Cybersecurity Visionary by CyberScoop news.


  • founder/lead CryptoHarlem
  • civil rights advocate
  • hacker / security & privacy researcher / bug bounty enthusiast
  • Tech fellow at Ford Foundation w/ BUILD: building institutions and networks
  • (former) director of digital safety & privacy at Tactical Tech
  • counter surveillance, Information & operational security
    trainer to NGOs, nonprofits, & journalists (via various private security firms)
  • 2022 Newsweek America’s Greatest Disruptors
  • 2022 Blacks in Cybersecurity Image Award winner.
  • 2022 CyberScoop News Cybersecurity Visionary
  • 2021 Electronic Frontier Foundation PIONEER / Barlow awardee
  • 2020 WIRED 25
  • 2017 Vice Motherboard HUMAN OF THE YEAR
  • 2017 San Francisco Yerba Buena Center for the Arts YBCA100 awardee
  • 2017 Internet Freedom Festival fellow
  • 2017 Institute For The Future, Future-4-Good fellow
  • 2016/2017 Mozilla/Ford Open Web fellow at Color of Change.
  • 2016/2017 New America Cybersecurity Initiative fellow
  • developer and data journalist (formerly of CNN & The New York Times)
  • supporter of The Movement For Black Lives
  • writer for Cryptofriends
  • board member at The Action Network
  • board member at The Highline Network
  • network investment council member at Reset Tech
  • advisory board member to the Open Technology Fund
  • former advisor to the Internet Freedom Festival
  • former advisor to the Human Rights Foundation
  • former advisor to the Digital Security Exchange (DSX)
  • former advisor to the Berkeley University Center for Long Term Cybersecurity
  • former advisor to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
Wired Magazine named Matt one of the 2020 “WIRED 25”


Matt Mitchell is a hacker, founder of CryptoHarlem, an anti surveillance, pro humanity, not-for-profit cybersecurity organization that focuses on protecting all people from technological harms. Matt is the Senior Cybersecurity Program Manager at the Ford Foundation. In his work there, Matt develops scalable safety and cybersecurity organizational strengthening solutions for Ford Foundation’s grantee partners.

In 2021 Matt graced the cover of Newsweek magazine and was honored as one of 50 America’s Greatest Disruptors. That same year Matt was awarded the PIONEER/Barlow Award by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. He was also named by WIRED magazine as one of the 25 “… innovators who are using technology to lead society through this period of global uncertainty and pointing the way to a safer future.” called the WIRED25. In the past he was listed by VICE’s MOTHERBOARD as a HUMAN OF THE YEAR, for his work protecting marginalized communities from surveillance.

Matt is a well known privacy & security researcher, operational security trainer, and data journalist who founded & leads CryptoHarlem ( https://cryptoharlem.com ), impromptu workshops teaching basic cryptography tools to the predominately African American community in upper Manhattan. In the past, Matt worked as an independent trainer for media and humanitarian focused private security firms. He specialized in discreet investigations, digital safety, electronics, & counter-surveillance. Matt spends his free time training activists in operational and information security. His personal work focuses on marginalized, aggressively monitored, over-policed populations in the United States.

Committed to using his digital skills — as hacker, developer, operational security trainer, and data journalist — for good, Matt has worked in various capacities at the intersection of technology and social justice. Formerly the Director of Digital Safety & Privacy for Tactical Tech (also known as the Tactical Technology Collective). Matt worked leading security training efforts, curricula, and organizational security for Tactical Tech in their mission to raise awareness about privacy, provide tools for digital security, and mobilize people to turn information into action.

Matt currently sits on the board of The Action Network, the NGOISAC ( non governmental organization information sharing and analysis center https://ngoisac.org/) , and on the advisory board of the Open Technology Fund (https://www.opentech.fund/about/people/advisory-council ).

Matt was a tech advisor to many organizations including, the Human Rights Foundation ( https://www.hrf.org ), The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (https://www.nacdl.org ), a member of the Network Investments Council at Reset Tech, and the Internet Freedom Festival ( https://internetfreedomfestival.org/team/ now known as Team Community).

He was a 2016–2017 Mozilla Foundation / Ford Foundation Open Web Fellow, embedded at Color of Change a civil rights / social justice organization;

Color of Change where Matt is a Mozilla/Ford Open Web Fellow

( more on the program at Mozilla https://advocacy.mozilla.org/en-US/open-web-fellows/fellows2016 & Ford http://www.fordfoundation.org/ideas/equals-change-blog/posts/announcing-the-2016-ford-mozilla-open-web-fellows/ ). Matt was an Internet Freedom Festival 2016 Fellow (https://internetfreedomfestival.org/internet-freedom-festival-fellowship-program/ ) , a New America 2016–2017 CyberSecurity Initiative Fellow, an Institute For The Future “Future For Good” Fellow 2016–2017 ( http://www.iftf.org/what-we-do/who-we-are/fellows/ ).

In the past he worked as a data journalist at The New York Times and a developer at CNN, Time Inc, NewsOne /InteractiveOne /TVOne /RadioOne, AOL/Huffington Post, & Essence Magazine.


more coming soon…


Stories about matt mitchell

Is your boss watching you work?
Oct 11, 2022
Matt was on Canadian national television speaking on the privacy law enacted in Ontario saying employers there must now disclose if they have been using productivity tracking software.
CBC / Radio Canada

Wired Magazine’s Wired 25
“People Who Are Making Things Better”


Village Voice . “Best Person To Help You Encrypt Shit.” by Ethan Chiel
The Village Voice Best Of 2016 Issue talks about the best things New York City has to offer.

Vice Motherboard . “Human of The Year”
Motherboard’s collection of people who are making big things happen during 2016 online and by proxy out in the real world.

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee . “Ms. Robot”
December 7, 2016

The recent elections in the United States put in the White House someone who has promised to crack down on activists like those involved in the Movement For Black Lives. In this episode,Ashley Nicole Black talks about how the Black community has been dealing with surveillance issues for a long time. With a unique and skilled gift of comedy & satire Ashley, covers what we as citizens can do. Matt has a cameo at 3:06, Also in the video hip hop legend, Talib Kweli.

“Ms Robot — Samantha B”

Fox 5 New York local news “Why Privacy Matters”
May 12, 2017

A local New York City reporter, Arthur Chi’en reached out to discuss the importance of privacy in todays digital age. It was a good opportunity to promote the work I do and most importantly promote good digital safety hygiene.

“Why Privacy Matters” — Fox 5 NY


“How To Give A Digital Security Training”
by Matt Mitchell, Cooper Quntin, Marin Shelton, Rachel Weidinger

“The Motherboard Guide to Not Getting Hacked” [english]
by Motherboard

“La Guía Motherboard Para Evitar Ser Hackeado”
by Motherboard

“5 Privacy Tips in the Age of Cyber Activism”
Mozilla Firefox

“How to Protect Your Data Using Just Apps”

“How to Protect Your Browser History”

“How to Protect Your Online Identity”

“Digital Hygiene for Defense LawyersL: A Digital Security Checklist”
NACDL: National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

“Cybersecurity for the People: How to Protect Your Privacy at a Protest”
The Intercept
by Micah Lee w/
matt mitchell

“Hacker Redefined: Organizational Security”
Mozilla : Open Web Fellowship


Ford Foundation Technology Fellowship

Mozilla Open Web Fellowship
The Mozilla Open Web Fellowship literally changed by life, so I have high praise for it and the great people at Mozilla and Ford who support it. This fellowship looks to get technologists and civil society host organizations together. The technologists get a taste of what being a “public interest technologist” in service to all, is about. The host organizations get a nerd with special powers for a short period of time to help permanently change the trajectory of the organization. Its a win win, with lost of travel and geeky adventure thrown in for good measure. There is currently an open call for the next year’s cohort.

New America CyberSecurity Initiative Fellow
The Cybersecurity Initiative Fellowship brings together thinkers from across the United States, from in and outside the cyber policy community, to write and contribute new thinking to the policy debate. New America is a think tank and civic enterprise committed to renewing American politics, prosperity, and purpose in the Digital Age.”

IREX Internet Freedom Festival Fellow
International Research & Exchanges’ annual glitter covered event in Valencia Spain supports an open internet & fighting surveillance. As a fellow I assisted with the “Community Track”.

Institute For The Future’s Future For Good Fellow
Institute For The Future is an independent, non-profit research organization, the fellowship program hosted a convening in Reykjavik, exploring the forces shaping our world, and the actions we can take amidst them. I was honored to contribute my vision and analysis in this effort.


Open Technology Fund Advisory Council
“To support the internet as a safe and secure platform for free speech the Open Technology Fund (OTF) was created in 2012 as a program of Radio Free Asia and is sustained by annual grants from the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which originate from yearly U.S. Congressional appropriations for State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs…The OTF program works to promote forward-thinking ideas and innovation, open philanthropy, alternative methodologies, emerging technologies, new approaches, and social responsibility.”

Internet Freedom Festival & IFF Advisory Board
“The IFF Platform brings together the internet freedom community to raise awareness & profile of the people, projects, teams, & organizations working in coalition to bring about a open, free, global internet fueled by acceptance, freedom, and love. I also work to support, promote, and grow the annual IFF conference in Valencia, Spain.


SOUPS 2020
“Maybe We Have Been Doing This Wrong? Protestor as persona”
In August of 2020, I delivered a keynote at the Sixteenth Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security. Speaking about the importance of intersectionality, and the centering of marginalized groups when producing UX, security research, tools, etc.

Cyber Jim Crow & Digital Poor Doors In Tech
In June of 2017, I am honored to have presented at EyeO. I shared some of my thoughts and research on diversity in tech and issues impeding integration.

The Revolution Will Not Be Encrypted
Returning in EyeO in 2018 with a talk about marginalized groups and data

“Smart City vs. Menacing City: A Wakanda Deferred”
Personal Democracy Forum in 2018 talk on so-called smart cities

Surveillance and Black Bodies in the USA
At the Re::publica 2017 Media conference I spoke on the long history in the United States as categorizing people of African descent as suspicious others along with some of my research on modern surveillance in the inner city. Drawing unsettling parallels between past and current event.

Why The Black Community Needs Encryption
You might not know that you need a big “crypto hug,” but Matt Mitchell of Crypto Harlem has one for you. But why for the black community in particular?

“Surveillance is a tool of oppression, and black folks have been surveilled since before the slave ships. You look at a manifest of a slave ship and people were numbers and cataloged. You look at an overseers diary and it’s basically a CCTV camera but written out in handwriting. All the way up to COINTELPRO where a who’s who of civil rights and racial justice leaders from the 60s and 70s [were surveilled]. It’s part of a program, especially in this country, to dismantle those organizations because they’re disruptive.”- TechCrunch

Color of Surveillance Conference
“why black & latino folks need to follow the encryption battle & how does iOS vs FBI effect us.”


Reddit AMA (ask me anything) with ACLU National & CryptoHarlem
This was a virtual panel/online town hall where Chad Marlow of the ACLU and I answered questions about the work we collaborated on with CCOPS (community control over police surveillance) and the #TakeCTRL campaign. This has lead to actual policy being supported by NYCLU (New York Civil Liberties Union) via NY Electronic Comms Privacy Act (A.9235). A bill that “relates to the search and seizure of electronic devices and electronic communications”

Netgain Internet of Things Conference in New York, NY
Excited to be on a panel moderated by Mark Surman, Executive Director, Mozilla Foundation. The panelist are Stephanie Hankey, Executive Director, Tactical Tech, Scout Brody, Executive Director, Simply Secure & Bruce Schneier, Board Member, Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Internet Governance Forum USA (IGFUSA) 2016
“Content and conduct: countering violent extremism & promoting human rights online”


UNDER CTRL: “Matt Mitchell: Making digital hygiene skills available for everyone”
June 2021
by Tresorit

Inside a Harlem CryptoParty: CryptoHarlem
For Black History Month 2018
by Vice Motherboard

Republica 2017
by Deutsche Welle
German Election Security & Emmanuel Macron “hack”.

Election Hacking 2017
The second time I was on Deutsche Welle , this was a chat about election hacking.
by Deutsche Welle

“GnuPG Stories: Matt Mitchell of CryptoHarlem”
A promotional video I did to raise funds for GnuPG encryption software.
by GPG w/
matt mitchell

Radio Motherboard on CryptoHarlem.
“Content and conduct: countering violent extremism & promoting human rights online”

Listen to the interview by clicking play!

CodeNewbie on data journalism & coding
“Content and conduct: countering violent extremism & promoting human rights online”

Facets 16 on “what was the internet before”
The internet wasn’t always the way we use and see it now. Dial up was slow, websites didn’t exist yet, & old men screamed at clouds. I talk about my first computer and what the internet was like when I was first getting online.

Colombia Informa (en español) on “La tecnología viene de la mano con la vigilancia estatal”
I met the team at Tactical Tech’s Glass Room, where I presented the talk “Teching while Black & NYC Surveillance” / Conocí a estos reporteros en “The Glass Room” (la Sala de Vidrio) de Tactical Tech, donde presenté la charla “Enseñanza mientras Black & NYC Surveillance”


Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
In 2017 I was selected as one of the YBCA 100, a list of the one hundred“people, organizations, and movements that are shaping the future of culture”.

Onalytica : Top 100 Influencers and Brands
A listing by Onalytica of Cyber Security and InfoSec professionals from April 2016.


The following are a listing of articles, not endorsements.

“The Age of Activism: Protect your Digital Security and Know Your Rights”
September 11, 2020
Mozilla Blog

“Schneier on Hacking Society”
April 9, 2020
Kelly Jackson Higgins for Dark Reading

“At RSAC 2019, It’s Clear the World Needs More Public Interest Technologists”
March 8, 2019
Jasmine Henry for Security Intelligence

“Digital Misogyny is Personal and Fixable”
July 9, 2018
United Nations Human Rights

“Putting Stickers On Your Laptop Is Probably A Bad Security Idea”
August 14, 2018
Jospeh Cox for Motherboard

“Google’s Confusing Gmail Security Alert Looks Exactly Like a Phishing Attempt”
January 16, 2018
Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai for Motherboard

“Still Confused About Bitcoin?”
December 21, 2017
Octavio Blanco for Consumer Reports

“Security Pros, Librarians Holding Digital Privacy Clinics Across U.S.”
June 28, 2017
Andrew Chaikivsky for Consumer Reports

“In Trump’s America, Black Lives Matter activists grow wary of their smartphones”
June 1, 2017
Craig Timberg
for Washington Post

“Matt Mitchell On Racist Algorithms”
May 10, 2017
Republica 2017

“Festival mundial por una Internet sin censuras”
March 8, 2017
Kristin Suleng for El Pais

“66 Ways to Protect Your Privacy Right Now”
February 21, 2017
Andrew Chaikivsky w/ Tercius Bufete and Catherine Roberts for
Consumer Reports

“Cryptoparties Teach Attendees How To Stay Anonymous Online
February 8, 2017
Jon Kalish for NPR: All Things Considered

“How to Protest Without Sacrificing Your Digital Privacy”
January 20, 2017
Joseph Cox for Motherboard

“Cities planning transparency laws for police surveillance tech”
January 4, 2017
Carey Dunne for Quartz

“Cómo la policía nos vigila en las redes sociales”
December 15, 2016
George Joseph for CITYLab Latino

“La policía monitorea más los teléfonos de la gente pobre que de la rica”
October 26, 2016
George Joesph for CityLab Latino

“Cities planning transparency laws for police surveillance tech”
September 23, 2016
Jeremy Seth David for SC Magazine

“US cities launch campaign to crack down on unsanctioned surveillance”
September 21, 2016
Sam Thielman for The Guardian

“Meet the hacker keeping ‘Mr. Robot’ so real it’s scary”
July 1st, 2016
Keith Nelson Jr. for Digital Trends

“The Black Community Needs Encryption”
December 11, 2015
Adrianne Jeffries for Motherboard


Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Awards 2021
Barlow Awardee


SANS Digital Forensics and Incident Response (DFIR) Summit 2020
Keynote Speaker Day 1
July 16th, 2020

USENIX SOUPS 2020: Sixteenth Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security
Keynote Speaker
August 7–11, 2020

CryptoHarlem May 2020: “Digital Safety during a pandemic.”
May 10,2020


DjangoCon US 2019
San Diego, California, USA
September 22–27, 2019

NorthSec 2019, Conference
Montreal, Canada
May 16–19,2019

“Bridging the Gap: Cybersecurity + Public Interest Tech”
Matt Mitchell, Bruce Schneier, Fellow and Lecturer, Harvard Kennedy School Moderator: J. Bob Alotta, Astraea Foundation
Thu, March 7, 2019 , 9:20am

RSA Conference 2019
San Francisco, California, USA

Expert & Speaker
“Public Interest Technology Track”
March 4th- 8th

“State Of The Internet 2019”
New York, New York, USA
Matt Mitchell, Anil Dash, and Maurice Cherry
Thursday, February 28, 2019 , 5:30pm


HackLU Conference
Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
Monday October 15–19th, 2018

hacks / hackers berlin
Berlin, Germany
* Wednesday September 19th, 2018
This talk will discuss practical and easy steps to increase your digital and operational security. It is a refresh and an update on the latest security considerations and how this impacts your research, your sources, and your future.

National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) Annual
International Training & Job Summit
Miami, Florida, USA

* Wednesday July 18–24, 2018
NAHJ will offer a variety of volunteer, fellowship and sponsorship opportunities for the annual conference. I will be conducting a digital safety and security for journalists training Early Bird Registration Deadline: March 31, 2018. Registration Closes: June 30, 2018

Security B-SIDES Rochester’s Hacker Conference
Rochester, New York, USA

Friday, April 13–14, 2018

Brownsville Brooklyn Intergenerational Technology Skillshare /DiscoTech
Brooklyn, NY USA

* Saturday January 20, 2018
DiscoTech is short for “Discovering Technology,” and it’s an event where anyone, large or small, old or young, techie or non-techie, can come to share questions, curiosity, tips, knowledge, and resources about the technology we use everyday.

“Privacy For Everyone” — a conference by Least Authority, Zcash Company and Dekrypt Capital
Berlin, Germany
* Saturday January 3, 2018
We will bring together leaders in the field of digital privacy to discuss how to broaden the understanding of privacy as a social and collective value in our technology. We want to explore how we can address the current and developing challenges in the age of surveillance and big data analysis. Communicating and Building Communities panel w/ Paige Peterson Zcash, Anamika Ved Least Authority, Freddy Martinez Freedom Of The Press Foundation.


Chaos Computer Club Congress 2017
Lepzig, Germany
I will be attending and assisting folks, see you there.

Simmons College Technology Social Justice
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
* Thursday April 27, 2017
The intersection of privacy, policy, data, and design offers both opportunities and constraints for those working with technology to promote a more just and equitable society. Panelists will discuss how privacy, policy, data, and design issues influence their work in technology, and they will provide insights into opportunities that exist to pursue technology careers that promote justice-centered goals.

Republica 2017
Berlin, Germany
* Tuesday, May 9, 2017 -17:30 to 18:00 ( Stage 5 @ )
Surveillance isn’t evenly deployed against all people. Matt will speak on how surveillance has historically targeted and directly affected marginalized populations in the United States.This talk includes Lessons learned from the CryptoHarlem project as well as what he feels are the best ways to provide digital safety and security to all people.

New York, NY, USA
* Wednesday, May 31st, 2017 4–6pm
A discussion w/ Chaumtoli Huq & @geminiimatt to talk at Browning School about law, tech, and the marginalized

More Info


TechCrunch Sessions: Justice
San Francisco, California, USA
* Tuesday, June 6, 2017
The Black Community Needs Encryption: Through history the Black community of the United States has faces many forms of surveillance. Encryption, circumvention technologies, and advancements in math/science provides the Black community to free ourselves from this “racial gaze”.

Personal Democracy Forum
New York, NY, USA
Friday, June 9th 3:15pm — 4:15pm
Kimmel Center Rom 907
”Digital Security for All: Bridging the Gap…”
A discussion on what it will take to bring digital security AND digital safety to marginalized groups and the directly effected. Josh Levy — Non- resident fellow at Stanford’s Digital Civil Society Lab Deanna Zandt — Co-Founder at Lux Digital Anqi Li — Design and Digital Engagement Lead at Access Now

Human Rights Watch Film Festival
New York, NY, USA
Wednesday, June 14th 7:00pm IFC Center
Black code is an amazing documentary about the work of Citizen Lab in Toronto. There are not many places for dissidents & activists to turn when they are the victims of suspected state digital surveillance & hacking. Citizen Lab is one of those places. Screening followed by panel discussion with filmmaker Nicholas de Pencier, Bill Marczak, Senior Research Fellow, Citizen Lab and myself (Matt Mitchell, Hacker/Digital security trainer and Founder of CryptoHarlem) Moderated by Dinah PoKempner, General Counsel, HRW

Allied Media Conference
Detroit, Michigan, USA
* sometime during June 15–18th
Advanced Opsec: Beyond Tor & Signal: In this workshop @geminiimatt will break a fictitious activist organization (the participants) into teams who must successfully practice good operational & information security to plan, promote, execute, and assess a demonstration while mitigating harm. Learning advanced skills, capabilities & methods along the way.

EyeO Festival 2017
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
* sometime during June 26–29th
“Cyber JimCrow: Virtual public housing and poor doors in digital security & surveillance.” Technology allows us new tools to build a better more inclusive future but without an acknowledgement of past and ingrained biases are we doomed to fail? Due to the recent US election & the rise of white supremacist populist movements in Europe, digital security and safety information is in high demand. But, are we leaving behind those directly affected in our rush to a ‘safer’ future? I talk about my research and some possible solutions

Citizen Lab Summer Institute: on Monitoring Internet Openness and Rights
Toronto, Canada

July 12 to 14, 2017

“The Citizen Lab Summer Institute on Monitoring Internet Openness and Rights is an annual research workshop hosted at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto.The Citizen Lab Summer Institute (CLSI) is a meeting place for researchers and practitioners from academia, civil society, and the private sector who are working on Internet openness, security, and rights. It brings together perspectives from a wide range of backgrounds across technical and social science disciplines. Participants range from established experts to those just entering the area.”

Human Rights Foundation Oslo Freedom Forum NY
New York, NY, USA

Sept 19–20th, 2017
I presented at “Hacking Human Rights”

Strange Loop
Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

Sept 28–30th, 2017
key note