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Digital security for writers and human rights defenders

The Internet is a vital tool for writers and human rights defenders in getting their voices heard. Although access to technology is still a huge challenge, activists who are able to use the Internet are increasingly using it to organise resistance and to raise awareness about human rights violations in their country. However, alongside the rise of online activism, governments have developed the capacity to monitor, censor and manipulate digital information. Online privacy is a serious matter - for some writers, revealing their identity could lead to them being imprisoned, mistreated or even killed.

Many standard web programmes lack the necessary security for writers to be protected from surveillance and hacking. However, several organisations which defend freedom of speech online and promote digital security have developed simple guides to improve online security.

Security in a Box

Tactical Tech and Frontline Defenders have developed a How-To booklet which explains how to safeguard your digital security when using different technologies (such as computers, mobile phones, or email servers). It also includes simple guides to maintaining online anonymity, bypassing censorship, and destroying sensitive information.

This guide is available in Amharic, Arabic, Bahasa (Indonesian), Burmese, Chinese, English, Farsi, French, Russian, Spanish, Tibetan and Vietnamese.

Anonymous Blogging

Global Voices Advocacy have developed a simple guide to blogging anonymously using WordPress and Tor. This guide was developed to assist authors who wanted to write about political or personal matters online, but needed to do so without revealing their identity. These included human rights activists around the world, aid workers working under repressive regimes, and whistleblowers within companies and governments.

The guide is available in Arabic, Chinese, English, Farsi, French, Italian and Portuguese.

Journalist Security Guide

The Committee to Protect Journalists has prepared a guide for journalists – both local and international, at any level of experience – which gives advice on assessing the threats to journalists around the world. It includes a section on information security which advises on how to protect confidential information.

The guide is available in Arabic, English, French and Spanish.

Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents

Reporters Without Borders have created a handbook that seeks to help bloggers report news which mainstream or government-controlled media will not cover, and explains techniques to get around censorship and filtering technology.


Deflect is an open source, non-profit initiative from that protects human rights and independent media websites from DDoS attacks and is already serving some of the most vulnerable organisations in more than 25 countries. It's a painless 2-step process to join and neither the website nor its hosting server are affected in any way. The sign-up form and procedure are available in English, Spanish, French and Farsi.

Links to each of the reports in the various languages can be found in the PEN International statement.

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