SpeakSafe: New Toolkit for Safer Online and Mobile Practices in Media

Screenshot of SpeakSafe web site

Internews’ new online guide, SpeakSafe: Media Workers’ Toolkit for Safer Online and Mobile Practices, provides journalists, citizen reporters, bloggers and media workers with a series of simple yet effective practices to maintain control over their information and communications. 

Journalists often research stories online, interview sources using audio and video chat, carry their contacts on SIM cards, and leave comments on websites, social networks and blogs. In doing so, they are likely sharing more about themselves and their sources than they realize or intend. Mobile phone calls and chats can be monitored, emails can be read by people who work at local Internet Service Providers (ISPs), and conversations on social networking sites may be visible when users connect through unencrypted public WiFi access points or internet cafes.

Internews believes that as journalists and citizen reporters adopt online and digital tools to communicate, they need to understand not only how to use these devices, but also how to protect themselves and the sources they rely on for information when using them.

The toolkit covers topics including:

  • How to communicate securely with contacts and sources online and via mobile devices
  • How to safely store, transfer, and destroy sensitive data
  • How to conduct research safely and anonymously online
  • How to protect information on sensitive contacts and sources from accidental exposure to hostile third parties
  • Digital security basics, including creating strong passwords, keeping software updated, using anti-virus programs, and more.

Whether researching stories using shared computers in a press club along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, talking to contacts at the refugee camps in Kenya using mobile phones, or tweeting about politics and revolution in Egypt, Libya, or Syria, online and digital tools are transforming the way professional and citizen media access, consume, produce, and share information. The toolkit is intended to assist users regardless of platform.

Each chapter is divided into three categories:

  • The Basics – essential/urgent fixes
  • Some Advanced Techniques – a bit more technical, but useful to learn
  • More Resources – related material, available for free on the Web, where in-depth explanations and information about specific topics can be found

The toolkit does not include every possible solution to specific challenges, but contains a variety of methods for tackling problems as they stand today. While SpeakSafe was developed by Internews, it builds on and links to educational and training materials produced by a variety of organizations working in mobile, internet and digital security and media and human rights issues.

Written in easy-to-understand language, the toolkit is intended for use by media workers worldwide. To make it globally accessible across various platforms and connectivity speeds, the site is built on Expression Engine using the Treesaver framework. This allows the toolkit to adapt to various digital devices and screens dynamically, making access to the toolkit platform-neutral. It is also available as a PDF download.

The toolkit was developed and produced by Internews’ Global Human Rights Program and is intended as a companion to Internews’ reporting guide Speak Up, Speak Out: A Toolkit for Reporting on Human Rights Issues.

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