Taller de Activismo Digital – Sevilla, 1 de Junio 2017

(Publicado en: http://madafrica.es/ataya/2017/06/06/derechos-digitales/ )

Diego Naranjo , miembro de Derechos Digitales Europeos (European Digital Rights, EDRi) dirigió el talller sobre Derechos Digitales organizado por MadAfrica en el Nuevo Ateneo Tierra y Libertad. El taller se dividió en dos partes: una general para centrar la atención en los asuntos generales resultados con los derechos digitales, y una segunda parte práctica con consejos de autodefensa en internet.

Durante la primera parte, Diego presentó cómo la defensa de los derechos digitales no es más que la defensa de los derechos humano en internet. En un mundo donde los colectivos sociales se organizan y se comunican cada vez más usando la mediación de la tecnología, es necesario saber cómo funciona la tecnología y cómo usarla adecuadamente. Diego comenzó la charla con un vídeo de una asociación danesa de protección de los consumidores en el que, bajo el método de cámara oculta, se muestra cómo reaccionarías si en tu panadería te pidieran tanta información íntima como una app cualquiera. Luego contó la influencia de redes sociales en la creación de perfiles (con 300 “me gusta” Facebook te conoce mejor que nadie) y cómo se utilizan los ataques terroristas para lanzar políticas de vigilancia sobre todos los ciudadanos.

Durante la segunda parte, Diego compartió con nosotros una serie de consejos generales y específicos para todos, que puedes ver en esta presentación online. Diego insistió en que la cuestión no era volverse paranoico y coger miedo a la tecnología, sino empoderarse y dar pequeños pasos para alcanzar una mejor protección de nuestra privacidad. Así, recomendó el uso de la app de mensajería Signal frente a Whatsapp o Telegram, recomendó el uso de redes virtuales privadas (VPNs), uso de Firefox como navegador seguro (añadiéndole extensiones como https everywhere, privady badger o ublock) y  uso de TOR para una navegación totalmente anónima. Diego comentó la importancia de usar un gestor de claves como KeePassX para poder tener claves fuertes y diferentes en todas las plataformas y servicos online pero a la vez sólo tener que recordar una clave nada más. Finalmente, Diego recomendó el cifrado de teléfonos y ordenadores y mantener los equipos actualizados.

Las preguntas del público se refirieron a cómo afrontar demandas de claves en puestos fronterizos y posibilidades legales para negarse, cómo reaccionar frente a abusos con nuestros datos y preguntas generales sobre aspectos prácticos comentados durante la charla. La presentación completa se puede descargar aquí.

Para acabar, Diego se mostró dispuesto a responder por email (diego [punto] naranjo [arroba] edri [punto] org) a cualquier pregunta relativa a la charla, propuso algunas películas sobre derechos digitales (Citizen Four (Laura Poitras), Snowden (Oliver Stone)….) y agradeció la invitación al evento por la importancia de los derechos digitales en nuestras vidas.

Puedes seguir a Diego en Twitter en @DNBSevilla y ver sus presentaciones aquí: www.diegonaranjo.eu.

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Public intervention at “Copyright Reform Unlocking copyright for users”

In Copyright Reform: Unlocking copyright for users COMMUNIA asks several civil society groups, EDRi among them, for their view on the current copyright reform: what are the biggest hopes, the biggest fears and the concrete plans to #FixCopyright.
Listen to what Diego Naranjo, EDRi’s advocacy manager has to say and join the discussion now.

communia-association.org/

All contents in this video have been released into the Public Domain via a CC0 dedication.

Music (in order of appearance):
– freepd.com/Rock%20Pop/Warfare%20Confederation
– freepd.com/Rock%20Pop/Pulse
– freepd.com/Cinematic/Connect%20the%20Dots
– freepd.com/Electronic/Overt%20Intimidation%20Loop

Font:
– font.ubuntu.com/ / font.ubuntu.com/licence/

Intervention at Mydata 2016 Helsinki on data protection, privacy and encryption

 

After the adoption of the EU General Data Protection Regulation – what next? Join DR.  MALTE BEYER-KATZENBERGER (Policy officer, European Commission, DG CONNECT), KASPAR KALA (Advisor at Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications), TARU RASTAS (Senior Adviser in the Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications), PHILIPPE DE BACKER (Belgian State Secretary for the Fight against Social Fraud, Privacy and North Sea), DIEGO NARANJO (Advocacy Manager of EDRi), JARNO LIMNÉLL (Professor of Cyber Security, Aalto University) in a Panel Discussion on policy making for personal data at the mydata2016 conference.

MyData 2016 was an international conference that focuses on human centric personal information management.
MyData is an initiative to help people gain more control over their personal data.

Interview at Críptica.org (English translation)

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(Note: This is the English translation of the interview I did for Críptica.org, orginally in Spanish. You can find the original interview below or at the original site: http://www.criptica.org/2016/02/10/entrevista-a-diego-naranjo/ )

1. For those who do not know you, could you please present yourself?

My name is Diego Naranjo and I work as Advocacy Manager at European Digital Rights (EDRi). EDRi is an umbrella organisation of civil rights groups working for the defense of human rights in the online environment.

2. When did you become aware of the importance of protecting your privacy? Was there any specific moment that affected your current views on this subject?

The “dystopian” books 1984 by Orwell, Fahrenheit 451 by Bradbury and A brave new world by Huxley made an impact on me during my teenage years. Since then the idea of resisting the Big Brother influenced my way of thinking and marked my political positions.

3. Do you want to talk about any of the projects related with security or privacy (regardless of their technical, social or political nature) in which you are currently involved?

This year we are focusing in EDRi in a campaign against the EU PNR Directive, that may be passed in the European Parliament in the following weeks; we will also work in the review of the e-Privacy Directive, since after the initial agreement of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) needs to be reviewed; finally, we will start working on the implementation of the GDPR and be alert on the attempts of establishing new data retention laws at national levels.

4. What kind of practices do you do in your every day life to protect your privacy, both in the digital and in real life?

I do similar activities in both the digital and non-digital environments:

In the online environment:

1. I only use Free Software in my computers.
2. I use end-to-end encryption (PGP) daily.
3. To communicate with friends and working colleagues I do not use Whatsapp, but Signal and Telegram instead.
4. I do not use social networks which are especially invasive as Facebook.

In the non-digital world:

1. I advocate for the use of free software tools by public institutions through my regular advocacy work, for example via proposing amendments in non-legislative reports or in the proposals of EU legislation.
2. When using snail mail, I use envelopes for private information and postcards for not so private information.
3. I try to do more meetings in person and public speaking than online, when possible.

5. What would you tell the ordinary Internet user, who says that he has “nothing to hide” or that believes that privacy is something that should worry those to “do evil things”?

This is a “zombie argument” that comes back to life after every pro-privacy initiative. The reply to that statement is that privacy is not related to “hiding things”, but with freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and other fundamental rights. Everyone should be able to talk with their friends, express their fears and opinions without being constantly under surveillance. Otherwise, this leads to self-censorship and people not being themselves. This could lead to all sort of problems, including health related ones. Would you look up the address of a clinic that performs abortions if you think your boss might be reading your private messages? Are you going to look up for information in Google about ISIS si that could lead you to be in some data base as a suspect of supporting terrorism?

This “chilling effect” can be seen in other scenes in our daily life. For example, when you drive and you notice that there is a police car driving next to you, no ones stays indifferent: You revise everything mentally: You wonder if you have the documentation of your car insurance and if your seat belt is correctly fastened, if the speed is under the limit and, generally, you put yourself in some sort of “alert mode”. If we all take our smartphone everywhere and we communicate more and more often using the Internet we can potentially have “a policeman” looking over our shoulders constantly. Who wants to live in a state of permanent alert? What kind of freedom would that be?

6. What kind of tools, habits or practices would you recommend to non-technical users to improve their privacy?

Edward Snowden has proposed several easy tips that can improve your privacy easily without being a very technical person.

For those who have what it could be called “below user level”, my recommendation would be not installing those apps that require access to your information without needing it to perform correctly (for example, the torch app which asks ro access your contacts). A step further from that would be using by default apps that are on the Free Software repository F-Droid, since they are are free and ‘gratis’, and only in case you do not find what you need going to Google Play or Apple Store.

You could also use search engine DuckDuckGo.com instead of Google, in order not to be tracked.

A step forward would be using Free Software daily. There are already many distributions out there (Ubuntu, Linux Mint…) that debunk the myth that Free Software is only for geeks.

7. To what extent do you think that the criticism of massive surveillance involves the involuntary legitimation of targeted surveillance that, nevertheless, violate rights of those affected by those measures? (Example: #Spycops case in the United Kingdom)

Indiscriminate mass surveillance is, by definition, contrary to human rights, as the courts in Strasbourg and Luxembourg have said repeatedly (cases Digital Rights Ireland and Schrems –in the CJEU, case Szabo and others in the ECtHR).

Targeted surveillance, on the other hand, is not a blank check. It must be prescribed by law and follow the criteria of necessity and proportionality. In order to be lawful targeted surveillance should include a system to prevent abuses: In cases of spying agencies (“intelligence agencies”) being the ones doing this surveillance, they must be subject to the control of the State, including judicial supervision. In the case of the surveillance performed by law enforcement agencies, this also needs to be done following the Rule of Law, including that no one si subject to surveillance without judicial authorisation and that, in some cases, this cannot be done even with that authorisation (for example, conversations between a client and their lawyer and a doctor and his patient).

8. Which institutions, acts or institutions are a threat for freedom and privacy online? Who should defend these rights?

The Internet of Things and Big Data are threats that need to be neutralised right now. The effects of these technologies lead to the creation of profiles and the ways they can be used to control population is alarming. Multinationals that make profit out of our personal data (Google, Facebook, Skype-Microsoft and others) are a constant threat, as we have seen after the Snowden revelations.

Defending these rights is the duty of citizens. Rights, as muscles, are strengthened by exercising them daily. If we do not do this, we become weaker as societies and as individuals. Since policies related to privacy are decided increasingly at the European level, we call citizens to get organised in associations and to get involved in the campaigns organised by organisations like EDRi, Xnet, Access Now, BEUC and others. If we want to shape our future freedoms in the digital world, the moment is now.

9. Do you believe that there are important differences between “traditional” political activism and the activism focused in the defense of human rights online or “hacktivism”? We at Críptica see a “gap” (generational, technical, gender based…) between both ways to intervene in politics.

Inevitably, human rights activism in the online world requires some technical skills (sometimes, very basic ones), which can leave outside some activists (for example, older generations). When this is not the case, we see that digital rights activism is identified with hackers and geeks, when it is obvious that almost everyone has a smartphone, uses e-mails and therefore the risks affect all of us.

When I introduce EDRi, I always highlight that we EDRi is a human rights organisation. Otherwise, when we talk about “digital rights” it seems like we are talking about “human rights for the developed world”, when in fact we are talking about the same human rights we already have offline, but applied to the online environment.

There is another issue, maybe more important. It is true that there are fights which are more urgent than privacy: climate change and social inequalities are two of the main ones. However, these battles are going to be fought, to an increasing extent, using digital tools. If we do not control those tools and we prevent indiscriminate surveillance we can see these fights seriously threatened and compromised.

10. Finally, what do you think should be, in your opinion, the aspects that as a political movement (from the “digital rights” organisations) we should have to improve?

1. We need to create a global discourse about surveillance and privacy which is not connected to the rhetorics of the Big Brother so we can get closer to citizens. We need to find and use positive examples (talking about freedoms rather than fears) in order to reach a wider audience.

2. Support economically (via donations, crowdfunding…) free software and privacy tools in particular, and use them. A first step could be, for example, convincing five people with whom you communicate the most to use Signal and communicating with them (sms and calls) privately. Signal is an app that is free of charge, it is free software, it is easy to use, and replaces your SMS app, so you do not need to use two different one for the same purposes.

3. We need to organise at local and national level to work on these issues, and also work in alliances at the European and international level in order to be more powerful. We need to put constant pressure on Members of the European Parliament and on the European Commission, since they are the ones that to a great extent decide on our online freedoms.

Entrevista en Criptica.org

El blog Criptica.org ha publicado una entrevista que me han hecho esta semana. (Post original en: http://www.criptica.org/2016/02/10/entrevista-a-diego-naranjo/)

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1. Para los lectores que no te conocen, ¿podrías presentarte brevemente?

Me llamo Diego Naranjo y trabajo como Advocacy Manager para European Digital Rights (EDRi). EDRi es una federación de organizaciones no gubernamentales que trabajan en la defensa de derechos humanos en el mundo digital.

2. ¿Cuándo empezaste a ser consciente de la importancia de proteger tu privacidad? ¿Hubo algún acontecimiento concreto que determinara tu forma de pensar actual?

Sin duda, los libros del género de la “distopía” como 1984 de Orwell, “Fahrennheit 451” de Bradbury y “Un mundo feliz” de Huxley marcaron mi adolescencia. Desde entonces la idea de resistir al Gran Hermano ha influido en mi forma de pensar y ha marcado mis posiciones políticas al respecto.

3. ¿Quieres hablarnos de alguno de los proyectos relacionados con la seguridad o la privacidad (ya sean de carácter técnico, social o político) en los cuales estés involucrado actualmente?

Para este año en EDRi nos vamos a enfocar en una campaña contra la directiva EU PNR (https://edri.org/faq-pnr/), que puede ser aprobada en las próximas semanas; también trabajaremos en la reforma de la Directiva ePrivacy, que tras la aprobación del nuevo Reglamento General de Protección de Datos (GDPR, por las siglas en inglés: General Data Protection Regulation) tiene que ser revisada; finalmente, empezaremos a trabajar en los detalles sobre la implementación de la GDPR y estaremos atentos a los intentos de establecer nuevas normas de retención de datos a nivel nacional.

4. ¿Qué prácticas realizas en tu día a día para proteger tu privacidad, tanto en el entorno digital como en la vida real?

Realizo prácticas parecidas en ambos mundos (digital y no digital):

En el mundo digital:

1. Utilizo exclusivamente software libre en mis ordenadores.
2. Utilizo encriptación end-to-end (PGP) a diario.
3. En mi smartphone no utilizo Whatsapp, sino Signal y Telegram.
4. No uso redes sociales especialmente invasivas como Facebook.

En el mundo no digital:

1. Impulso la adopción de software libre por parte de instituciones públicas a través de enmiendas o propuestas en iniciativas legislativas y no legislativas de la Unión Europea.
2. Cuando uso correo ordinario, utilizo sobres para información privada, y postales para información no tan privada.
3. Intento realizar más reuniones en persona y charlas públicas que comunicaciones online.

5. ¿Qué le dirías al usuario común de Internet, que cree “no tener nada que ocultar”, o que piensa que la privacidad es una cuestión que solamente debería preocupar a “los que hacen cosas malas”?

Este es un “argumento zombie” que reaparece tras cada iniciativa pro-privacidad. La respuesta es que la privacidad no está relacionada con “ocultar cosas”, sino con la libertad de expresión, la libertad de reunión y otros derechos fundamentales. Todo el mundo debería ser capaz de hablar con sus amigos, expresar sus miedos y sus opiniones sobre cualquier tema sin ser vigilado constantemente. De lo contrario, esto lleva a que las personas se auto-censuren y dejen de ser ellos mismos. Esto puedo conllevar todo tipo de problemas, incluso de salud. ¿Seguro que buscarías la dirección de una clínica para la interrupción del embarazo si piensas que tu jefe puede estar analizando tus mensajes privados? ¿Vas a mirar información en Google sobre ISIS si eso puede llevar a que acabes en alguna base de datos como sospechoso de apoyar el terrorismo?

Este “chilling effect” lo podemos ver en otras escenas de la vida diaria. Por ejemplo, cuando conduces y ves que hay un coche de policía nadie se queda indiferente: Revisas todo, piensas si tienes la reglamentación del coche a mano, miras si vas a la velocidad permitida y, en general, te pones alerta. Si llevamos nuestro smartphone a todos lados y nos comunicamos cada vez más por Internet, podemos tener a “un policía” sobre nuestro hombro a cada segundo. ¿Quién quiere vivir en un estado de alerta permanente? ¿Qué tipo de libertad sería esa?

6. Pensando en usuarios sin formación específicamente técnica, ¿qué herramientas, hábitos o prácticas les recomendarías para mejorar su privacidad?

Edward Snowden ha propuesto varios consejos sencillos que pueden mejorar la privacidad fácilmente sin necesidad de muchos conocimientos técnicos: http://www.eldiario.es/cultura/tecnologia/privacidad/Edward-Snowden-explica-proteger-privacidad_0_457754864.html

Para los que tengan un conocimiento técnico menor que lo que se podría llamar “nivel usuario”, la recomendación es no instalar aplicaciones que requieran acceso a información cuyo uso no es necesario (ejemplo: aplicación de linterna que quiere acceder a tus contactos). Un paso más sería usar las aplicaciones que figuran en F-Droid (https://f-droid.org/), que son gratis y libres, y sólo en caso de no encontrar lo que necesitas ir a Google Play o Apple Store.

También se puede usar el buscador DuckDuckGo.com en vez de Google, para no ser rastreado.

Un paso un poco más avanzado es usar software libre. Ya hay muchas distribuciones (Ubuntu, Linux Mint…) que eliminan el mito de que el software libre es para informáticos.

7. ¿Hasta qué punto piensas que la crítica de la vigilancia masiva supone la legitimación involuntaria de formas de vigilancia individualizadas que, no obstante, siguen vulnerando los derechos de las personas afectadas? (Ejemplo: caso #Spycops en Reino Unido)

La vigilancia indiscriminada es, por definición, contraria a los derechos humanos, como han declarado reiteradamente los tribunales de Luxemburgo y Estrasburgo (casos Digital Rights Ireland y Schrems – CJEU, caso Szabo y otros en TEDH).

La vigilancia individualizada, por otro lado, no es un cheque en blanco. Debe estar previsto en una ley y seguir los criterios de necesidad y proporcionalidad. Esto debe incluir un sistema de prevención de abusos: En casos en que sean las agencias de espionaje (“agencias de inteligencia”) sean las que llevan a cabo la vigilancia, deben estar sometidas al escrutinio del Estado, incluyendo la supervisión judicial. En el caso de vigilancia por parte de fuerzas policiales, esto debe ser hecho siguiendo las normas de un Estado de Derecho, lo cual incluye que no se inicie ningún seguimiento de comunicaciones privadas sin autorización judicial y que, en ciertos casos, incluso éstas no puedan ser investigadas (por ejemplo, entre un abogado y su cliente, o entre médico y paciente).

8. A día de hoy, ¿qué instituciones, actores u organismos piensas que suponen una amenaza para la libertad y la privacidad en Internet? ¿A quién corresponde defender estos derechos?

El Internet de las Cosas (Internet of Things) es una amenaza que tiene que ser neutralizada ya mismo. Los efectos que esas tecnologías pueden tener en relación a la creación de perfiles (profiling) y como una nueva manera de control de la población es alarmante. Las multinacionales que viven de nuestros datos personales (Google, Facebook, Skype y otras) suponen una amenaza constante, como hemos visto tras las revelaciones de Snowden.

Defender estos derechos nos corresponde siempre a los ciudadanos. Los derechos, como los músculos, se fortalecen mediante su ejercicio constante. De lo contrario, nos volvemos débiles. Debido a que las políticas sobre privacidad se realizan cada vez más a nivel europeo, hacemos un llamamiento a que los ciudadanos se organicen en asociaciones y que actúen en los llamamientos a la movilización que hacemos organizaciones como EDRi, Xnet, Access Now, BEUC y otras. Si queremos perfilar nuestras futuras libertades en el mundo digital, el momento es ahora.

9. ¿Crees que existen diferencias notables entre el activismo político “tradicional” y el activismo centrado en la defensa de los derechos en Internet o el “hacktivismo”? Lo cierto es que desde Críptica observamos una “brecha” (generacional, técnica, de género…) entre ambas formas de intervención política.

Inevitablemente, el activismo de los derechos humanos en Internet requiere ciertos conocimientos técnicos (a veces, sólo muy mínimos), lo cual puede echar hacia atrás a cierta gente. Cuando no es ese el caso, nos encontramos con que este campo se identifica con hackers y geeks solamente, cuando lo cierto es que casi todos tenemos un correo electrónico y un smnartphone a mano, y por tanto los riesgos nos afectan a todos.

Cuando presento EDRi, siempre hincapié en que somos una organización de derechos humanos. De lo contrario, cuando hablamos de “derechos digitales” parece que hablamos de derechos humanos para el mundo desarrollado, cuando en realidad son solamente los derechos humanos que ya tenemos offline pero aplicados al mundo digital.

Hay otro asunto, quizá más importante. Es cierto que hay luchas más prioritarias y urgentes que la privacidad: el cambio climático y la desigualdades sociales son dos de las principales. Ahora bien, estas luchas se van a desarrollar en mayor o menor medida cada vez más usando medios digitales. Si no controlamos estas herramientas y prevenimos que exista la vigilancia masiva indiscriminada, podemos ver que esas luchas se vean amenazadas seriamente.

10. Finalmente, ¿cuáles deberían ser, según tu opinión, los aspectos que como movimiento político (desde el conjunto de las organizaciones defensoras de los “derechos digitales”) tendríamos que mejorar?

1. Tenemos que crear un discurso global sobre la vigilancia y la privacidad que se aleje de la retórica del Gran Hermano y que se acerque a los ciudadanos. Hay que usar ejemplos positivos y divertidos para poder llegar a la gente.

2. Impulsar económicamente (donaciones, crowfunding…) software libre y el uso de herramientas de privacidad. Un primer paso puede ser, por ejemplo, convencer a tus 5 contactos más utilizados de que instalen Signal y comunicarte por ellos (por mensajes y llamadas) de forma privada. Es una herramienta gratuita, fácil de usar, y que reemplaza a tu app de SMS, así que no necesitas duplicar tus apps.

3. Organizarnos en nuestras organizaciones locales y nacionales para abordar estos temas, y aliarnos a nivel europeo e internacional con otras organizaciones para aunar fuerzas. Hay que poner presión constante en los parlamentarios europeos y en la Comisión Europea, que son los que en gran medida deciden sobre nuestras libertades digitales.

Free Software Social Networks for Social Change: A look into recent events in Wall Street and Egypt

(Originally written for FSFE in September 2011).

The Arab Spring, the 15M movement and Occupy Wall Street are all part of a new wave of change around the world. In this wave of changes the use of social networks has become essential to reinforce strategies, communicate with a huge number of activists as well as spreading news over the Internet. In this era, the need of social networks not subject to censorship is urgent and essential for social change in the XXI century. The recent events in Wall Street and Egypt demonstrate this importance and that these helpful tools, being privative and corporate owned, might be easily subject to censorship as it happened both in NY and Egypt .  But,

  1. How has censorship occurred in NY and Egypt in social networks? In those cases censorship was enforced in different ways. Apparently the trending topic #OccupyWallStreet was blocked for a period of time by Twitter , thus blocking communication between those activists present in the place and those willing to assist the rally or to be http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/ccpr.htminformed about the event. This problem was overcome using other trending topics but it  remains possible that next time all new topics are blocked and therefore making it impossible to communicate using this social network. In Egypt Facebook was also blocked in an attempt to stop the revolution. As we can see, the need for a reliable, stable and secure social network seems nowadays as no less than an extension of other human rights as the right to peacefully assembly or the right to association, as well as the right to privacy.
  2. How do privative software networks attack the right to privacy?The right to privacy is a human right recognized by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in its art.17 that can be seriously affected when using social networks. Besides censorship issues already commented, the main problem is that both Facebook and Twitter (as many other social networks) are companies whose main interest is earning more profits, and therefore they tend to trade with delicate personal information from their users in order to sell it to third parties (i.e.: that is why you get certain advertisements in your main Facebook page). As FSFE President Karsten Gerloff put it, in Facebook “you are not the customer: You are the product” . E-mail providers are not an exception to this. The case of Gmail and other e-mail clients with a column of advertisement that change according the topic of the e-mail you are reading at that moment is quite frightening despite the fact that we are already used to it.
  3. Are there any FS alternatives that can overcome this threat? There is still no stable version of an alternative Facebook based on Free Software although there are some efforts being done at the Diaspora Social Network community and  N-1 (for social activists). Regarding tweeter alternatives, identi.ca has been working fully since 2009 and gives the same features than tweeter but respecting privacy and not being under control by anyone.
  4. Then… are Free Software-based technologies 100% safe from abuse? Unfortunately, Governments still can block IPs and the whole traffic of the Internet in a country so even for open source communities is no 100% safe, but it is still definitely safer than privative ones like Facebook or Twitter.
  5. How can human rights defenders protect their activity and themselves? There are many tools that HRDs may use in order to  work effectively with less risks for themselves. First of all, the use of Free Software Operative Systems (GNU/Linux) is a must. The times when alternatives to Windows or Macintosh were just for nerds dressed in black is far over today. There are GNU/Linux distributions as Ubuntu or Fedora that anyone is able to use quickly due to its intuitive design, despite the fact that you would need the obvious adaptation time you need to get used to a new operative system. However, this will not require more than adapting to use a smart phone instead of your old not-so-clever mobile phone. Most of Free Software distributions come already with all you need to work on your computer such as internet browsers, e-mail clients, instant messaging programs, audio and video players, as well as Libre Office to work on all kinds of documents. Even if you still (??!!) use a non-free operative system (1) you might see yourself using every day Free Software programs such as Firefox or Thunderbird, which might help you not to freak out when thinking to “convert” to a Free Software alternative.
  6. Why is Free Software so important? There are many reasons to use Free Software. FSFE makes a interesting point in their website when it states that , “(f)or those who are connected (…) human rights of participation in culture, freedom of speech and opinion are influenced to a large extent by their control over the software they use, as are freedom of association and movement. Software forms the medium. Unlike the proprietary approach, Free Software gives each person full control about their personal information space. Although this alone is not sufficient to grant privacy and security, it is a necessary prerequisite.” Frontline, an Irish-based NGO that defends human rights defenders, also promotes the use of Free Software as a tool to defend Human Rights in a safer way. In its useful guide “Digital Security & Privacy for Human Rights Defenders” Frontline provides with a extended list of measures that might increase to a high level your security on the Internet. These measures go from using GnuPGP keys in order to encrypt your e-mails to more complex systems to hide your IP, explained always in a non-geek manner. “Security and Privacy for Dummies” might have been another good title for the guide.
  7. Ok… Where should I start? First of all think about how much privacy and freedom matters to you. Another reason would be how much you prefer to support local businesses rather than greedy multinational corporations. Once you decide to go one step beyond for your freedom, you may start using some Free Software programs to run on your current non-free operative system. There are many programs for Mac and Windows. If you are already convinced to switch to a Free Software option, try any of the Live CDs that allow you to test GNU/Linux systems in your computer without installing it and, if you like it and everything works, make a backup of all your files and install it to work alone (desirably) or along with your non-free operative system. If you choose this last option you will be able to choose among your different operative systems when you start your computer. A step forward after this would be learning how to encrypt your hard-drive (this can be done when installing most GNU/Linux distributions) as well as your e-mails. With these steps you will be a little bit more free and secure. So let’s begin… how much does privacy and freedom matters to you?

Notes: 1- The words of Free Software Foundation Richard Stallman make a interesting point at why this is not an obvious question : “People started using computers with proprietary software, they took for granted that that’s how it is, everyone around them was saying this is how it’s has to be, and only the Free Software Movement was saying anything else”. (Read the rest of the speech for more info ).