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How do I Protect my Information?

When bringing a PIL case, it is important to keep your information safe for the following reasons;

  • If important information about your case, such as correspondence with lawyers, strategy and evidence, is not kept private this can weaken your position during litigation or negotiations. If the other side knows what evidence, strategies and arguments you will use, they can be better prepared in the case.
  • If information about you, your family, community or legal team, is not kept private, it can increase the security risks around your case (see How do I Deal with Security?)



Protecting my Information

Information can be stored in many ways. It may be in the form of;

  • Physical documents and copies
  • Emails
  • E-documents (digital documents such as pdfs)
  • Photographs
  • Sound recordings
  • Videos

Information can also be shared in many ways, such as;

  • Speaking
  • Sending copies of documents by post or email
  • Sharing information online (e.g. though social media profiles)
  • Involuntarily. When a defendant or opponent hacks into your accounts and steals information on your case

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.

In Mexico, the government was alleged to have hacked into and monitored the smartphones of human rights defenders and activists.

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;

Keep your information confidential

The only people who should have 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.

Protect the integrity of your information

Ensure that the information or documents in your possession are complete and not corrupted by others.

Make sure your information is available for when you need it

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.

  • 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).

Make sure your information is safe

Protect your information by ensuring that it is kept in a physically or virtually safe place.

This can avoid the irreparable damage which would result from papers being lost, computers being stolen, or email accounts being hacked etc.


Useful Security Tools

There are a number of tools you can use to protect your information. Consider using the following resources;

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;

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