Applaud Hacktivist Organization For Improving the Safety of Media Reporters and Activists


Target: Hacktivist organization, #FreedomHack

Goal: Thank #FreedomHack for improving the safety of media reporters and activists.

Hackers are usually seen negatively by the public as cyberspace thieves, but an organization known as #FreedomHack, are using their expertise to protect media reporters and activists from potential retribution. They have been sponsored by prominent non-profit organizations like Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders. They have recently hosted a convention event in Washington DC that attracted a round table of coders, security experts, reporters, journalists, and hackers who were interested in this cause. During this event, the organization challenged these “hacktivists” to brainstorm ways to improve security issues on current technologies or create new platforms that journalists and whistle-blowers can use on a daily basis to report, upload information, and contact sources safely without fear of being intercepted and exposed.

One of the winning submissions was an improved version of an application called Panic Button, which allows a person to send out a distress signal with a short message to a chosen person. This signal will give out your coordinates, and the application runs discretely in the background of a phone. This distress signal is also automatically triggered if a person does not answer a message within a given time frame. An original application called the Port Key enables journalists to securely and stealthily  transfer important, confidential data  by simply scanning their phone on a NFC sticker, which is a medium that allows the storage of digital information.

Security vulnerabilities may jeopardize their anonymity or in a worse case scenario, imperil their lives. For example, Mexico was considered by Amnesty International as the most dangerous country for reporters. Unfortunately many have lost their lives for daring to expose drug cartel atrocities on social media. In 2012, the bodies of two journalists were hung from a pedestrian bridge across the border of Texas in the Mexican city of Nuevo Laredo. A sign was also hoisted, which said in Spanish, “This is going to happen to all of those posting funny things on the Internet. You better f—–g pay attention. I’m about to get you!” This is but one of the many grisly incidents of slain journalists in Mexico in the past decade. Some journalists have “disappeared” and are presumed dead. Since the year 2000, 84 media reporters have been murdered and 20 have gone missing in Mexico. Unfortunately, the Mexican government have turned a blind eye on these incidents and are often accused for being contributors to the problem because of the unabated corruption in the police force.

Please sign this petition thanking #FreedomHack for promoting freedom of the press and saving the lives of journalists, reporters, activists, etc world-wide.


Dear members of #FreedomHack,

Your initiative to give media workers the technological means of working behind a cloak is greatly appreciated. Many journalists risk their lives to provide the public with “on the ground-coverage” of critical events taking place in the most volatile areas around the world. They are often subjected to credible threats of violence and unfortunately some have lost their lives in the line of duty. In the more extreme cases, the journalists’ families become victims of this terrorism. We hope you continue to improve the well being of media reporters and activists through your expertise.


[Your Name Here]

Image Credit: scott*eric via Flickr


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