Digital activists in fear over ‘knock at the door’, says Frontline Defenders

10 Nov 2014

Charlie Lamson, head of development at Frontline Defenders

In increasing numbers, human rights activists are finding their attempts to spread human rights violation news through the internet is putting them at as much risk as open-air protest, says Frontline Defenders.

Founded in Dublin in 2001 as an organisation to protect human rights campaigners across the world, Frontline Defenders has seen in recent years how now more than ever, getting information of atrocities to the world is much more achievable with the advent of the internet.

However, this in turn leads to a number of risks for these online advocates not from individuals or organisations, but nation states.

Speaking to at this year’s Web Summit, the organisation’s head of development, Charlie Lamson, spoke of their Security In a Box digital toolkit which helped one activist, Ali Abdulemam in Bahrain, spread news of the government’s human rights violations through the Tor browser that had previously gotten him arrested.

Speaking of the future of human rights activism, Lamson feels that while digital protest is becoming increasingly more common, there will always be a need for physical protest, “At the end of the day people still have to go down to the street. A really interesting example of that was in Egypt in Tahrir Square. So many of the people involved in that had been sitting at home watching the protests online and talking about it until the internet was shut down.”

The Web Summit 2014: Interview with Charlie Lamson of Frontline Defenders

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic