Promoting Human Rights Online: Benetech Hosts the 2015 Internet Freedom Fellows

By Benetech, posted on

The Benetech Human Rights team is always seeking new opportunities to connect with grassroots human rights activists and share experiences and lessons learned to help strengthen and defend freedom of expression around the world. We were therefore delighted to host the 2015 cohort of The Internet Freedom Fellows program at our Palo Alto offices earlier this month.

The program brings five human rights activists from across the globe to Geneva and Washington to meet with fellow activists, U.S. and international government leaders, and members of civil society and the private sector who work at the intersection of technology and human rights. Fellows engage in topics concerning the importance of the internet to the promotion of the fundamental rights of expression and assembly, with the goal of developing ideas and plans for building networks that advance a secure and open internet for all. This year’s program focuses on the theme of women’s empowerment and technology, part of a larger campaign titled “The Future She Deserves.”

We had a great time meeting with the 2015 Internet Freedom Fellows. They include journalists, bloggers, and activists from Belarus, Brunei, Kenya, Palestine, and Zambia. You can read more about them on the Internet Freedom Fellows program website. They learned about the work of Benetech and of our Human Rights team; watched demos of Martus, our secure, free, open source tool for human rights information management; and got a sneak peek at a prototype of our secureApp, a new tool we are about to launch in beta and that enables human rights and civil society organizations to create custom mobile and desktop applications for secure data collection, using the strongly encrypted technology stack of Martus.

The Fellows then also had the opportunities to check out Benetech’s book chopper and scanner, with which our Bookshare collection development team scans print books to convert them into accessible versions for our users with print disabilities, and to hear from our CEO, Jim Fruchterman, an impromptu update about the latest exciting developments with the Marrakesh Treaty!

The Internet Freedom Fellows program is an initiative of the U.S. Mission to the UN-Geneva and is co-organized in partnership with the Geneva-based NGO GMEDIA Center, which works to empower media to further civil society goals, and with Meridian International Center, a Washington D.C.-based NGO promoting international understanding through exchange programs.