"Human Rights Program" Archive
Earlier this month, on November 6th, jointly with Human Rights Watch and WITNESS, we celebrated Martus’ 10th Anniversary—ten years of secure human rights documentation by the Martus user community. The Martus story that has unfolded during that time is a tale of hard-won success and focused efforts to bridge human rights and technological innovation. As our panelists pointed out, technology offers great opportunities for the human rights movement but also creates enormous challenges. With more and more people participating in human rights documentation, it’s critical to get the tools and skills in their hands to do it safely, ethically and effectively.
Palo Alto, California, November 6, 2013 — Benetech, Human Rights Watch and WITNESS celebrate today ten years of Benetech’s tool for secure human rights information management. Martus (Greek for “witness”) is an open source, free software application that allows users anywhere in the world to securely gather and organize information about human rights violations.
The ubiquity and penetration rate of mobile phones increasingly makes them the documentation tool of choice for those who research, witness and record human rights abuses. At Benetech, we see this as an opportunity to bring some of the strong encryption we offer in the desktop closer to the field. Last week, we released Mobile Martus 1.0—Benetech’s free, open source secure Android-based mobile documentation application, built on our Martus technology.
How can journalists better protect their information, themselves and the sources, victims and witnesses who trust them with their stories? How can mobile technologies help journalists working in conflict areas to quickly alert national and international support organizations when they or colleagues are injured, arrested, kidnapped or killed? These are some of the questions our Human Rights team is considering these days, as we’re moving forward with building the next generation of Martus technology. These were also some of the questions addressed by a team of technologists and journalists at the July 2013 TechCamp workshop in New York City, which I attended as a representative of Benetech.
In the context of the growing availability of information on state surveillance, our commitment to provide the human rights movement with secure tools and capacity building for the documentation of human rights abuses has only increased. We are also convinced that partnerships for the advancement of social justice are key to produce long-lasting change. Today we are proud to join a global coalition in calling upon the international community to assess surveillance laws and activities in light of international human rights obligations.
Years of working closely with our Martus users have taught us that the projects our users pursue and the outcomes they are working towards can vary widely. In addition to large nonprofits and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), our users include independent activists, local coalitions, members of small NGOs and many others. There is an incredible diversity within the Martus user community and wide spectrum of ways in which it uses Martus.
Benetech has announced the appointment of Enrique Piracés as the Vice President of its Human Rights Program. For more than 10 years, Piracés has worked at the intersection of technology and international human rights. He has applied his technical expertise and leadership to projects requiring a broad understanding of surveillance, circumvention, security and privacy, while also pursuing innovative applications of open-source technology for the human rights movement.
In recent years, the possibilities of what can be achieved with human rights fieldwork and advocacy has expanded as the worldwide use of mobile phones has increased and significant advances have been made in Internet and mobile technology. We’re excited to share that our Human Rights Program has been awarded a two-year, $2.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) to realize some of those possibilities.
Benetech’s Human Rights Program, as the lead partner in a consortium that includes The Guardian Project and Internews, has been awarded a two-year, $2.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) to enhance and expand our suite of digital security tools. Named “On the Frontier of Secure Technology for Human Rights Monitoring,” it is the largest individual grant in the history of Benetech’s Human Rights Program.
Benetech is announcing the limited release of a new prototype: Mobile Martus. Mobile Martus is a secure, Android-based mobile documentation application built on Benetech’s Martus technology, which allows users anywhere in the world to securely gather and organize information about human rights violations.