A future where we are all 'free to be human'

Our new PI brand is the culmination of a year of critical reflection and extensive consultation with our stakeholders and supporters on two key questions: ’What does PI stand for?’ and 'What kind of future is PI campaigning for?’

Key points
  • PI's new brand is more than just a new visual identity
  • It's a new way of working with you, and presents a positive vision of the future
  • A future where we are all 'free to be human'
News & Analysis
PI logo banner

Unless this is the first time you’ve come to our website, you will notice that it looks very different today. We have a new logo and new brighter colours (read more about our new visual identity here). But our rebrand isn’t just a new visual identity, it’s a new way of talking about our work, and a new way of working with you. We asked ourselves two questions -  ’What does PI stand for?’ and 'What kind of future is PI campaigning for?’ Our rebrand is the culmination of a year of critical reflection on these questions, and extensive consultation with our stakeholders and supporters.

We won’t take you through all the soul searching and debate. But let’s sum it up like this. Governments and corporations are using technology to exploit us. Their abuses of power threaten our freedoms and the very things that make us human. So at the core of our new brand is a deceptively simple idea - ‘free to be human’. Privacy in itself has never been the endgame. What’s always motivated and inspired PI is what privacy enables, and what we lose if we lose our privacy. When we campaign AGAINST corporations and states who monitor, track, profile, micro-target and manipulate us, often without our awareness, what we are campaigning FOR is people’s essential autonomy and freedom to be human.

Video: Free To Be Human

Free to be human video by PI

Being free and being human will mean different things to all of us. Free to define my identity. Free from micro-targeting. Free to cross borders without humiliation. Free to protest. Free to hide my face. Free to cry in public. Free to be non-conforming. Free to control my own body. We’re not trying to tell you what should be important to you, but we are here to protect your right to decide what’s important to you, without it being subject to perpetual surveillance or invisible manipulation.

There’s also a deliberate irony in us talking about ‘free' to be human. These days, we take it for granted that many of the tech platforms and services we use are ‘free’, even though it’s the exploitation of our personal data that enables many of them to be free or low-cost. Indeed, don’t you sometimes baulk at the audacity of an app that actually wants to charge you a couple of dollars? Or a news website that is now behind a paywall? As Gillian Welch plaintively sings, ‘everything is free now...’. You can listen to it on our new Spotify playlist 'PI in the Sky', even with a free account ;-). But that ‘free’ comes at the cost of our privacy, something that’s hard to quantify, or even really understand. So, 'free to be human’ also acts as a reminder about the different conceptions of ‘free’ and the complex clashes and contradictions therein.

But perhaps the central irony is our thirst for technological innovation on the one hand, and on the other an almost atavistic instinct for privacy, for ourselves, our loved ones, and even people we’ll never know - journalists, activists, political dissidents, persecuted minority groups. Our brand embraces this complexity. For example, if you refresh this page, or visit any page on our website, you will see that our logo keeps changing, showing different representations of our relationship with technology - both the exhilarating and optimistic, but also the fearful.

While we will talk increasingly about humanity and freedom, it doesn’t mean we’re dropping the ball on ‘privacy'. We’ve campaigned for technological privacy for 30 years, so that's about 29 years before Mark Zuckerberg made his hollow proclamation that the ‘future is private’. The irony is that the more that social media platforms, websites and apps make us tick a box to say we understand their privacy policies, the less it seems that any of us really understand what happens to our data. The more that surveillance technologies, Artificial Intelligence and algorithms embed themselves into the infrastructure of our societies, both in online and public spaces, the higher the privacy stakes and the less we really understand what privacy now means. Understanding privacy beyond the abstract, and working out whether we have it in abundance or have none at all, hasn’t got easier to talk about in 30 years. The semantics just keep shifting as the technology keeps developing.

Without mounting a massive public challenge and pushback, the tech architecture of tomorrow will almost inevitably work to the advantage of governments and corporations, at the expense of our privacy and freedom. So, our new brand is also about working more closely with you. Over the coming months we will be launching a new campaign platform, and we will increasingly launch new campaigns that need your participation.  We want to harness your demands for better privacy and set the new standards and norms with you. The piecemeal protections, the piecemeal technological fixes, the piecemeal innovations -  they’re just not enough, are they? With you, we want to work towards a future where we are all free to be human.

Ultimately, we want to tell a story of privacy and freedom that is exciting, positive, visionary, and at the foundation of tomorrow’s societies. We hope that story inspires you too.