From journalism and human rights to crisis response and refugee protection, a growing number of organizations that engage with vulnerable populations are collecting, storing, and transferring individually identifiable information—all too often in insecure ways. As we begin to understand that corporate collection and government interception of sensitive information is the norm, not the exception, the duty to protect confidential information about vulnerable individuals is now felt more acutely than ever.
At Benetech’s Human Rights Program, we are focused on helping activists and journalists uphold their commitments to protect and do no harm to the communities with which they work. We are therefore excited to announce the release of version 4.5 of Martus—our free, open source, secure information collection and management software—which includes major updates and usability improvements. Martus 4.5 takes a big step forward towards extending the reach and benefit of open source, strong crypto to the growing communities interested in secure data collection.
Upholding our commitment to lowering the barrier to using strong crypto, Martus 4.5 can now be configured in less than 10 minutes by anyone with basic digital literacy skills, allowing even less tech-savvy users to easily and quickly implement Martus’ secure documentation and distributed backup. We also believe users should not have to compromise on usability to have reliable, strong security. Martus 4.5 therefore features a new Configuration Wizard for account setup, offering fresh look-and-feel and much improved user experience.
Additionally, we have made major enhancements to the architecture of Martus in order to simplify the secure sharing and distribution of information, and have made it easier to securely backup data in Martus servers. We are also currently in the process of expanding the coverage and distribution of our servers.
In working on Martus 4.5, we have benefited from the invaluable input of our terrific partners in the human rights and techno-activism space, who have helped us expand our perspective on the ways in which we can improve our tools. Their feedback, as well as that of the global Martus user community, has been critical to our decision-making process and closely informed Martus development.
Martus 4.5 was made possible thanks to support from the Internet Freedom Programming of the Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL). We are grateful to DRL for their support and for their recognition of the importance of making strong security widely accessible in furthering global human rights.
We are very excited to release Martus 4.5. We see it as a milestone in our continuous effort to better serve our current users as well as the larger community involved in human rights documentation, including journalists and citizen reporters. There is much left to be done, however, and we have plenty in store for 2014. We are currently working on the next iteration of Mobile Martus, as well as on Martus 5.0, which will be a great evolution for the Martus ecosystem. Stay tuned for news on these upcoming releases.