Washington, D.C. #FreedomHack Announced, Will Aid Press Freedom in Mexico

Press Release
July 31, 2013

Washington, D.C. #FreedomHack Announced, Will Aid Press Freedom in Mexico

Contact: Sharon Singh, ssingh@aiusa.org, 202-675-8579, @AIUSAmedia
Hamza Khan, hamza@cont3nt.com
Shauna Dillavou, shauna@communityred.com

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – On the weekend of August 10 and 11, Amnesty International, CommunityRED and Cont3nt will host #FreedomHack, a hackathon focused on design and development of safe and secure digital tools to address pressing security challenges for journalists, citizen reporters and activists in Mexico.

The two-day hackathon will combine the expertise of computer programmers, journalists and human rights experts to identify and develop prototypes of safe and secure digital tools for journalists and activists in the field, so that they can safely and securely distribute their stories. The event will unite more than 150 coders, journalists and cyber-security specialists to form teams with human rights defenders both in person and via video-conference in Mexico City.

Human rights organizations and other watchdog groups have documented a wide array of concerns in Mexico, transpiring to a deadly environment for journalists and netizens. Individuals are regularly kidnapped, forcibly disappeared, threatened, attacked and killed in Mexico every year. In contravention of Mexican and international human rights law, individuals reporting on or otherwise exposing information on a wide range of social, political and economic concerns in Mexico are often targeted. This climate has unfortunately resulted in a level of self-censorship that must be confronted to guarantee freedom of the press and secure free speech.

Journalists and citizen reporters are in need of secure methods which would allow them to deliver their stories without fear of retaliation - a vital component of the realization of the right to free speech and freedom of the press. #FreedomHack aims to start to create those secure channels and methods.

After the conclusion of the hack, teams will then present their products to a panel of journalists and security experts and winning teams will receive prizes. Select #FreedomHack organizers will then test the winning projects in Mexico following the hackathon, solicit user feedback and use the information gathered to improve and customize the products. Subsequent hackathons or similar technology and innovation challenges will then be convened to further develop the projects.

The weekend will also be an opportunity for participants to work on a mobile alert app concept – Panic Button – that enables individuals at risk to trigger rapid response from their network in an emergency. Panic Button, which is currently under development via an open process facilitated by Amnesty International, is welcomed by activists as a vital tool and will benefit individuals at risk around the world. Amnesty International will be available to discuss the details further.

Events like these where technologists and content specialists join together to intensely collaborate on the identification and development of software projects for social good are increasingly used to address entrenched human rights challenges.

The hosts of #FreedomHack, namely Amnesty International, Cont3nt.com and CommunityRED, all stand united in their shared vision of a safe world for journalists, citizen reporters and netizens everywhere.

How to register to participate:
Coders and cyber-security experts, journalists, citizen reporters and representatives of human rights and free press organizations are encouraged to sign up to participate by registering here.

About the organizers:
The organizers of the event are CommunityRED, a digital safety net for citizen journalists in conflict zones, Cont3nt.com, a real-time market for breaking news and Amnesty International, a Nobel Peace Prize-winning international human rights organization with more than 3 million members and supporters worldwide.

Connect with us:

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists, and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth, and dignity are denied.