The summer and early fall of 2014 was sparked with different digital emergencies worldwide. In the Middle East, human rights defenders in Bahrain keep being the target of government repression. Past months were a very hard period for human rights defenders with one arrest following the other. Surveillance of online platforms of mobile messaging apps has become a hallmark of the Bahraini government’s repressive measures against pro-democracy activists.
Furthermore, Russia keeps tightening its grip on online traffic through an extensive series of stringent regulations. According to government decree users will soon be asked to show their IDs or passports when logging on to public WiFi networks. Besides blacklisted websites, censorship of social media accounts have been reported in several instances. VKontakte accounts pledging for more autonomy of Siberia have been suspended, and Twitter removed access for Russian users to @b0ltai, the account of a hacker collective that leaked a number of internal Kremlin documents online.
Then, The House News, a popular pro-democracy news site in Hong Kong modeled after the Huffington Post, had to shut its doors on July 26, under significant political pressure and the withdrawal of advertisers. Seeing the developments of the last months the picture for Hong Kong media looks grim.
On news about circumvention and security technology, there was a remarkable security advisory by Tor in July, in which it notified users of an attack on their service. The attack started in January, and appeared to have been targeting people who operate or access Tor hidden services. Tor explains that it cannot entirely know what that means for users who were infected and clarified the technical details of the attack in their security advisory.
Mitigating digital threats
This summer, the DDP supported projects worldwide to mitigate digital emergencies. The DDP financially supported a total of 30 organisations to mitigate digital threats, of which 6 organisations in this quarter. Furthermore, DDP frequently steps in with support through brokering. The DDP has engaged in various brokering activities for over 86 different human rights defenders- and media organisations that suffered a digital emergency. The DDP is a trusted port of call for at risk communities on the frontlines, which are reaching out to the DDP for advice on a digital emergency response – either directly or through intermediary organisations.
The grants and DDP brokering provided 835 users with direct emergency response, such as DDoS mitigation for websites under attack, legal support, the replacement of equipment and retrieval of hijacked accounts or extensive digital security audits and policy creation.
Are you based in a repressive country, and do you face a digital emergency? Contact the DDP at ddp[at]hivos.org or fill in our grant application form for support.