When taking legal action, it is important to keep your information safe for the following reasons:
For these reasons, it is important to have a strategy to protection your information if you are taking legal action.
Important information when you’re taking legal action could be:
Information can be stored in many ways. It may be in the form of:
Information can also be shared in many ways, such as:
Problems can arise when information (that should have been kept private) is shared with people who should not have known or were not intended to know about the information. To avoid this, it is in your best interests to take measures to ensure your information is private, safe and secure.
The following areas are key to keeping to protecting and using your information:
The only people who should have general access to your information are those who have to work with it and who are aware of the obligations to protect the rights and security of the individuals or groups you are representing.
At different points of the going to court process, you will have to share information with the court and (usually) with the other side. For example:
However, there are exceptions to these principles where revealing information would put you or a witness at risk, or where information is covered by client privilege. Also, it’s important for strategic reasons not to disclose too much information too early. As a general rule, wait until there is a legal rule or a court order that requires you to share information with the other side before doing so.
In some circumstances, it may be wise to release information but to redact (or black out) sensitive parts of a document. For example, when sharing information with journalists, you may want to black out sensitive personal information on copies of documents you are sharing (this can take some time with longer documents).
For your information, documents and evidence to be reliable and accepted in court, they must be complete and not corrupted by others.
When you need the information to prepare legal arguments, show evidence in court, or cooperate with journalists, make sure it is available in a form that is fit for the purpose.
There are a number of tools you can use to protect your information. Consider using the following resources:
Key Resources for Protecting Your Information
Surveillance Self-Defense: This is a quick guide about how to set up two-factor authentication on your devices.
Security in a Box : This is an easy guide to securing your information. It is designed to help advocates and human rights defenders secure computers, protect information and maintain the privacy of Internet communication.
Martus software: This a useful tool to help you keep information safe. This is a secure information management tool that allows you to create a searchable and encrypted database and back this data up remotely to your choice of publicly available servers.
- The Martus software is used by organizations around the world to protect sensitive information and shield the identity of victims or witnesses who provide testimony on human rights abuses. The software is very user-friendly and can be handled by anyone with a basic experience of electronic mail.
The Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN): GIJN provides good security resources that are relevant not only for journalist, but also for your purposes. This includes resources on Safety and Security and Digital Security.
Guide to Secure Group Chat and Conferencing Tools: Front Line Defenders provide an overview about what chat and communication services are right for different types of communication.
Manual on Digital Security & Privacy for Human Rights Defenders: Front Line Defenders have a manual that provides information about internet/computer-based security risks and how to deal with them.
Digital First Aid Kit: The DFAK is a free resource to help activists better protect themselves and their communities against the most common types of digital emergencies. It gives tips on what to do if you lost your device, lose access to your accounts, receive suspicious emails or lose your data.