This page features a summary of the resources collected for the workshop "Securing Journalism: The Importance of Encryption in Protecting Media Freedom" on June 7th, 2023.

The GIJN webinar delved into the critical intersection of investigative journalism and digital threats as they pertain to the 2024 elections, offering a global perspective on the evolving landscape. Esteemed journalists and experts provided insights into the multifaceted challenges posed by digital manipulation across various continents, highlighting the nuanced strategies employed to influence electoral outcomes. Moreover, they equipped attendees with invaluable tips and cutting-edge tools essential for effectively uncovering and countering disinformation campaigns, thereby empowering investigative journalists to uphold the integrity of democratic processes amidst the ever-expanding digital sphere.

Securing Journalism: The importance of encryption in protecting media freedom

In collaboration with the Internet Society, we have produced a comprehensive infographic describing the relevance of encryption, how it works, available toolkits for journalists and why it is crucial for media protection. Given our 2023 RightsCon workshop, you can find here a Google document including valuable resources shared by the speakers and the attendees' contributions.

Digital Security (November, 2023)

The Global Investigative Journalism Network published a comprehensive report summarising the Digital Security Guide issued by The Rory Peck Foundation. It includes simple but effective steps to increase journalists' protection and safety online - such as strengthening passwords, installing effective anti-virus software, contacting non-profit groups in the case of suspected hacking, and identifying suspicious email attachments or wordy written emails. The report also emphasises the importance of data encryption for emails to prevent leaked information from sources and secure your private messages. To avoid government tracking, they recommend various platforms such as Google Hangouts instead of Skype and avoid text messaging as it is not encrypted. Though journalists cannot be fully protected, these simple steps increase their security and privacy.

What is Encryption? (April, 2023)

Internet Society has dedicated this section to explain what encryption is, how it works, when to use it, why it matters and the existing threats. They describe encryption as the process of scrambling or enciphering data so it can be read only by someone with the means to return it to its original state. It is a crucial feature of a safe and trustworthy Internet and it helps provide data security for sensitive information.

Encryption Ressources (March, 2023)

Internet Society published multiple fact sheets, guides and reports on encryption, as encryption is a crucial feature of a safe and trustworthy Internet. Encryption keeps personal information safe and is also critical to national security, protecting society from terrorists, criminals, and hostile governments.

Internet Society warns how encryption is under threat and how some people want to introduce flaws into encryption systems and this makes encryption less safe for everyone. You can access this ressource section to find more information on how they're promoting and defending encryption around the world and how you can stand up for encryption.

With encryption under threat worldwide, Internet Society recommends a few steps to ensure our safety, protect encryption, protect our data, and protect one another. Some measures include using end-to-end encrypted messaging apps, encrypting your devices, using strong passwords, or even turning on erase-data options to protect thieves from stealing your data.

With the growing prospects the internet has to offer to communities and businesses, Sembra Media aims at filling the language gap with English-dominated sources- by providing resources in Spanish.

Internet Society and the Committee to Protect Journalists drafted a report elaborating on ways encryption is valuable to keep communities and journalists safe. Some of them include the possibility of communicating with sources safely, protecting the integrity of information, and protecting from attackers - as for utilising encryption to hold governments and institutions accountable.

The Global Encryption Coalition posted this video explaining the role of encryption in guaranteeing the safety of individuals, activists and journalists worldwide. The investigative journalist, James Ball, shares his experience in Syria, where the lack of access to encryption endangered journalists' lives- rendering them vulnerable to oppressive regimes in conflict zones. He explains how encryption is essential for individuals to keep their privacy and protection from governments, spies or ill-intentioned individuals.

Bushra Elamin published a paper presenting Arab contributions in cryptography, discussing Ibn Dunaynir cryptologist who was the first to describe an arithmetical cypher, in which cleartext characters are converted into numbers and then some simple arithmetic operations are performed on them. Cryptography paved the way for the development of arguably humanity's greatest achievements yet, Computers, the Internet and the digital world. Throughout history, the need for secrecy has been important. Governments and ordinary people have increasingly sought to secure the delivery of certain messages and important information in a way that allows only the intended recipient access and comprehension. This need for secrecy brought about the invention and the art of concealment, coding and code-making. In return, the need for intelligence and information lead to the development of code-breaking techniques. These techniques primarily attack a particular weakness that a code or concealment method may have, rendering the sought-after information apparent and comprehensible to the assailant.

The International Press Institute joined the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s annual Trust Conference to discuss the importance of encryption for journalism. The discussion points included the current threats to encryption, how encryption protects journalists’ lives and some alternatives to anti-encryption policies. Additionally, encryption remains vital in safeguarding freedom of the press and expression, human rights, and democracy. Weakened encryption renders minority groups, such as the LGBTQ+ community, vulnerable to persecution while also limiting journalists’ safety and freedom of the press.

The Youtube channel Mashable, presents a brief video explaining what is encryption works, how it works and how it prevents individuals from accessing encrypted messages.

A survey published by Forbidden Stories and written by Phineas Rueckert, indicates how at least 180 journalists worldwide have been selected as targets by customers of the cyber surveillance company - NSO Group. Indeed, clients of this surveillance company, including members of government across 11 countries, are suspected of using Pegasus to spy on journalists, obtain confidential information and consequently, threaten them. Developed by the Israeli company NSO Group, Pegasus allows its operators to access all the content of a telephone and even remotely activate the camera and the microphone. This article illustrates how the partnership between Amnesty International’s Security Lab and Forbidden Stories has uncovered various attacks on journalists’ privacy and their genuine fear of protecting sources’ privacy - endangering the lives of journalists and human rights defenders worldwide.

In their study's second chapter, Inflection Point International analysed the rate of global threats, attacks, denunciations, lawsuits, and physical violence journalists face. Their chapter indicates that more than 12% of journalists reported that they or someone in their news organisation had been victims of physical violence.

The study includes statistics from the ICFJ Online Violence Project, presenting the themes most identified in faced persecution with increased attacks due to gender (47%), followed by politics and elections (44%), and human rights and social policy (31%). In addition to physical and online threats, 28% indicated their organisation were subject to judicial threats, varying from country to country. This study presents relevant data from various countries to illustrate the growing threats and dangers to journalism.

The NGO Stop Scamming Me conveyed the importance of digital privacy and safety for various groups, such as young, queer and racialised individuals, but also for professionals such as doctors, lawyers or journalists. Young people must be able to explore their identities and communicate safely online without private companies or the government accessing and using their data. The NGO emphasises how insidious online communication surveillance can lead to severe mental health issues for young people, self-censorship and disengagement from public and political life.

For professionals entitled to professional secrecy, such as journalists and doctors, privacy is essential to practice their profession safely. A lack of privacy may result in harassment, intimidation, threats or worse. Human rights defenders face similar threats and are increasingly surveilled by States and malicious actors - leading to violence or repercussions.

Consumer Reports have curated a customised security planner based on your answers to offer the best-suited methods to reduce data collection and protect your sensitive personal information, health data, and geolocation. You can find more information on their security planner below.

ObCrypto have published a series of Regional Report on Policies and Freedoms in the Use of Cryptography in Latin America and the Caribbean. The report exposes the state of public policies and the level of freedom regarding the use of encryption technologies in the region. The Cryptography Observatory monitors public and private policies on cryptography in Latin America.

Please send us any materials, collections of tools, and other resources that can contribute to build this resource center on encryption and digital security.

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