Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Protecting journalists during potentially violent elections

South African elections take place on 8 May 2019. The Committee to Protect Journalists has published a safety kit for journalists to prepare for the elections. It guides journalists through such things as physical safety, basic device preparedness, identifying bots, dealing with online harassment and trolls, securing and storing materials (our specialty!), and psychological safety and dealing with trauma. These tips do not apply only to South Africa, but across the world.

Some highlights, and where we come in:

"Journalists should check the content in messaging applications, such as WhatsApp. They should save and then delete any information that puts them at risk. Media workers should be aware that WhatsApp backs up all content to the cloud service linked to the account, for example iCloud or Google Drive." Our advice: Don't use WhatsApp at all. Use SumRando Messenger. You can even destroy your messages on the receiver's phone, ensuring there is no trace of your message.

"Think about where you want to back up information. You will need to decide whether it is safer to keep your materials in the cloud, on an external hard drive or on a USB." Our advice: Store your info in SumRando Stash, a secure document storage app that requires a secure key and password to access and automatically deletes your documents after a certain number of days of your choosing.

"It is a good idea to encrypt any information that you back up. You can do that by encrypting your external hard drive or USB. You can also turn on encryption for your devices." Our advice: One thing they did not mention is using VPN encryption to secure your info and protect your privacy. You can download SumRando VPN for Windows or Android free or get the openVPN config to use with other systems with a subscription.

If you are not a journalist but want to help, purchasing a subscription to SumRando VPN helps us provide these free apps to journalists and activists across the globe.

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