Short training course on digital security for international journalists

To strengthen the knowledge of seven international journalists, Justice and Peace and RNTC collaborated by holding a short training regarding data safety and information.

This blog was originally written for and published at Justice and Peace official website.

Journalists from all over the world face tremendous threats every day, in their efforts to deliver accurate information to the audience. Kidnaps, abuses and even murders have been committed against reporters. The need to support and provide them with the highest security is vital. To equip journalists with all the necessary knowledge, Dutch training institution Radio Netherlands Training Centre (RNTC) organises many trainings and courses every year. In February 2017, Justice and Peace collaborated with RNTC to give a short training on digital security.

Seven journalists from a variety of international backgrounds from the global South were attending ‘RNTC’s Investigative Journalism Course which focuses on governance, accountability, democracy and human rights which lasts for three weeks. Course leader, Janet Anderson, says digital security is a high priority: “Investigative journalists are communicating via email, internet, social media and their sources are often really interesting to governments or commercial organisations. It’s really important nowadays for them to learn the basics of protecting themselves. Checking urls before putting in passwords. Encrypting their emails. There are lots of tools out there. But at the end of the day it’s all about being aware.”

Communications technology has empowered journalists, no doubt. But it has also opened a door to their private communications and their lives, exposing them and their sources to attacks from all kinds of adversaries. As electronic surveillance becomes more ubiquitous and intrusive, how should journalists approach the problem?

Justice and Peace offered a special mini training providing a variety of useful techniques and methods regarding digital security. The trainers were able to make use of the experience gained via Justice and Peace’s The Hague Training Course for Human Rights Defenders to begin by raising the awareness of the investigative journalists to the wider threats they face. The training helped them understand the bigger issues of  technology and privacy in relation to their work and focused on the specifics of securing data on any device, on the cloud or in the “air”, with a special attention paid to behavioral solutions. During the session the journalists were encouraged to relate to their own individual situations and consider risks and benefits of different communication solutions, as well as the need to protect their sources. The trainers focused on mapping digital threats, explaining privacy, password management, safe browsing, smartphone security, social media, and digital hygiene.

‘The digital map as a whole helped me understand that the risk doesn’t end with the devices alone’, shared one participant.

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