Internews’ BASICS project (Building Analytical and Support Infrastructure for Critical Security tools) aims to increase capacity and improve long-term sustainability for critical open source privacy and security tools used by human rights defenders around the world. 

BASICS accomplishes this through two main activities:

1. BASICS builds ties between tool teams and the communities they serve by placing skilled individuals from targeted and vulnerable populations with the tool team as contributing specialists who help address tool needs (as identified through a collaborative assessment and planning process)

Many powerful and widely used open source security and privacy tools are maintained by individuals or small groups of volunteers who are often under-resourced, lack the ability to receive grant funding, and do not have the means to hire additional support to advance their project’s goals. These developers are also often based in Western countries, with limited exposure to targeted and vulnerable populations who use their tools. Tool teams who work with contributing specialists have the opportunity not only to scale and become more sustainable, but to do so with an understanding of the challenges faced in Internet repressive environments.

2. BASICS creates privacy-conscious methods to track tool usage and prioritize development needs through the Clean Insights privacy-respecting analytics methodology and toolkit (SDKs for Android, iOS, Javascript, Python, and Rust)

Internews is partnering with Guardian Project to advance the Clean Insights methodology, which focuses on building trust with users to make tools better in a collaborative, threat-aware, and non-extractive way while providing insights to tool developers about usage of their tools without revealing personally identifying information. Developers can easily integrate and leverage a secure, private measurement system with flexibility to cater to different use cases/privacy needs. For detailed information, visit the Clean Insights website.

Participating Tool Teams

BASICS is proud to support the following tool teams:

  1. Briar
  2. Calyx
  3. Invisible Internet Project (I2P)
  4. KeePassXC
  5. Lookyloo
  6. Mailvelope
  7. MISP
  8. Qubes
  9. Save
  10. SecureDrop
  11. Tahoe-LAFS
  12. Tella
  13. Thunderbird (PGP encrypted email feature)
  14. Umbrella

Strategic Planning and Self-Assessment for Open Source Software Teams

In order to understand the needs, pain points, opportunities, and strengths of participating open source tool teams, Internews has developed the Open Source Software Needs Assessment Toolkit. The OSS Needs Assessment toolkit is now available to the larger open source community on a self-serve basis.

The toolkit is web-based and contains instructions that walk teams through the self-assessment process. Overall, the process takes approximately 1-2 hours, depending on how in-depth the team wants to take the self-assessment conversation. The output of the OSS Needs Assessment is a clear baseline picture of the health of the tool, the top 5 areas of concern for the tool team, and concrete, specific steps the team can take to achieve their vision and goals. This document can then be leveraged to develop grant proposals and a clear rationale supporting the project’s need for various resources. A podcast episode discussing the OSS Needs Assessment toolkit, featuring Internews Program Officer Dr. Gina Helfrich, is available here.

For additional information about the OSS Needs Assessment, see

For detailed instructions on how to take the self-assessment, see

For questions about BASICS and/or the OSS Needs Assessment toolkit, contact Gina Helfrich.

Blog Entries & More

Learn more about BASICS and the open source security and privacy ecosystem by exploring our blog posts:

A Market Analysis of Open Source Security Software by Ella Shoup

Clean Insights Symposium:

Podcast episode on the OSS Needs Assessment toolkit, featuring Internews Program Officer Dr. Gina Helfrich

Read Highlights from the Clean Insights Symposium Extraordinaire, hosted by the Guardian Project and Internews