Tech Defenders links tech community to protect human rights defenders

14 May 2013

Tech Defenders, a new frontline group comprised of the tech community, is kicking off in Dublin this evening to support and protect people fighting for human rights in oppressive countries.

The launch of Tech Defenders is just one event on behalf of Irish-founded and Dublin-based international human rights organisation Front Line Defenders.

IBM is hosting the launch of Tech Defenders in front of a group of invited guests. Activist, blogger and technology specialist Ahmad Gharbeia, executive director of the Arab Digital Expression Foundation, will speak to attendees about the digital security challenges that bloggers, journalists and human rights defenders face throughout the Mideast and elsewhere.  

Front Line Defenders’ head of technology, Wojtek Bogusz, will also address the group. He will talk about the digital tactics that help human rights defenders avoid detection and stay safe, and will provide an inside look at Security in a Box, a digital toolkit for defenders of human rights.

In a statement, Chris Horn and Karlin Lillington, on behalf of Front Line Defenders, said the work of human rights defenders carries huge and often life-threatening risk.

“Advancements in digital communications are used by repressive governments more than ever before to limit access to digital information about human rights and human rights defenders,” they said.

“They also monitor and disrupt communications between activists, to track and capture not only individual activists, but their entire networks, through the confiscation of a single phone or laptop.”

Through Tech Defenders, Front Line Defenders aims to unite, as it says, Ireland’s respect for international human rights and advancement of digital technology to promote tangible and practical support for the digital security of human rights defenders. 

Digital support image via Shutterstock

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic