For the last five years, I’ve traveled around the world training human rights defenders to use technology to more securely collect, store, and share sensitive data. The individuals and groups I work with face serious and complex digital threats that are difficult to detect. Some are aware of such threats and have taken precautions, while others are just gaining awareness and starting their search for solutions. To get a sense of where a specific audience fits on this spectrum, I often introduce the digital threat conversation by asking the room: “Show of hands: who here has a sticker covering their webcam?”
Martus, a Benetech initiative, today unveiled product updates to further empower human rights defenders to document and analyze data in the pursuit of justice and policy reform. Based on feedback from Martus users in over 50 countries, updates include the ability to easily create customized forms for data collection, to export Martus data into various file formats for data analysis, and to import multiple Martus records at a time for richer datasets.
Benetech, the leading nonprofit empowering communities in need by creating scalable technology solutions, today announced the appointment of human rights technology and policy pioneer Keith Hiatt to the position of Vice President of Benetech’s Human Rights Program. Hiatt will lead Benetech’s efforts to empower human rights defenders aroundKeith Hiatt Headshot the world by providing technology solutions and capacity building.
The Benetech Human Rights team is happy to announce the release of version 5.1 of Martus , our secure, free, open source information management and data collection tool for human rights defenders, activists, journalists, researchers, and civil society practitioners. In this version of the Martus desktop app, we have implemented significant user interface and user experience improvements, along with highly requested features. With these updates, Martus users can now more easily organize, find, and report on the information they collect to advance their goals.
Nominet Trust, a United Kingdom leading social tech funder, selected the Martus Project, an initiative of Benetech’s Human Rights program, among this year’s top 100 innovations using technology to drive social change around the world. The curated listed of these leading innovations, known as the Nominet Trust 100 (NT100), appears in the Nominet Trust’s 2014 Social Tech Guide.
Today, International Human Rights Day, the Benetech Human Rights Program is delighted to announce the release of version 5 of the Martus app and the debut of the updated Martus Project website. With these updates, Benetech is taking a leap towards improving the usability of end-to-end, open source encryption and extending its benefits to rights defenders, activists, journalists, citizen reporters, and other organizations and individuals who rely on secure data collection.
One of the strengths of the open source community is its ability to bring concentrated effort to bear on pressing problems, notes online magazine Opensource.com, highlighting Martus—Benetech’s free, secure human rights information management tool—among select open source projects impacting the lives of at-risk communities around the world.
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.
On April 7, 2014, The Heartbleed Bug—a serious vulnerability in encryption technology used by most Web servers to secure communications over the Internet was announced. The good news is that the Martus servers (where all data is stored and backed up) are not affected by Heartbleed. The Martus Desktop client, too, was not affected by the Heartbleed bug. However, Android 4.1.1 is vulnerable. If you use Mobile Martus, we recommend you update Android, then delete and recreate your Martus Mobile account, so that a new private key is generated. If you are unable to update Android 4.1.1 we strongly suggest that you do not use Mobile Martus.
As we start to grasp the scope and scale of unchecked surveillance, it is clear that having the know-how to protect personal information and privacy is no longer something that only human rights activists need. That’s why our Human Rights Program is working to increase use of end-to-end, open source encryption among journalists, citizen reporters, and activists, as well as broad awareness of the self-empowerment that open technology can generate. Team members of the Benetech Human Rights Program have just hosted a two-day workshop in New York City, where they introduced Martus, Benetech’s open technology for secure information management.