Call for Candidates: 2013 Internet Security Training for West African/Gulf of Guinea Journalists and Human Rights Activists

On May 27, and July 15, 2013, the University of Clemson and Internet Sans Frontières will organise five-day "Data Security Camps" for journalists and activists from the Gulf of Guinea. The deadline has been extended: Interested candidates can now send their applications until March 29, 2013.

In Paris and Abidjan, on May 27, and July 15, 2013Clemson University of South Carolina and Internet sans Frontières will organize five-day “Internet security” training seminars. These seminars will be held to allow Gulf of Guinea journalists, social media, human rights and democracy activists to learn how to proactively counteract online repression. The training seminars will be led by Doctor Richard Brooks of Clemson University in the United States, who has been working for the past year on a project called « Internet Democracy Support for West Africa ».

The education seminars provided will teach human rights and democracy activists, journalists and activist social media users how to use the counter-surveillance technologies developed by Doctor Brooks and his team at Clemson University. The seminars will also cover network security and privacy issues. Participants will be taught how to ensure secure communications and avoid online tracking. Technologies such as Tor and I2P provide anonymous communications, but repressive governments use network filtering to block access to these services. The technical approach developed by Doctor Brooks counters existing network surveillance regimes.

Suitably qualified people are requested to apply for places in these training seminars (see below for more details). The seminars will be offered free of charge to suitably qualified candidates, but participants will have to cover all travel and subsistence costs themselves. The seminars will be held in French and English.

Who can Apply?

In principle any human rights or democracy activist currently active in the Gulf of Guinea who has a record of using the Internet to further the causes of democracy or human rights, and any journalist or social media activist who reports on respect of human rights or democracy is suitably qualified. West Africans who develop counter-surveillance technologies for such activists are also suitably qualified. Universities in of the Gulf of Guinea region, which would like to participate in the project, and receive the support of Doctor Brooks and his team, are also invited to contact us.

To allow us to assess your qualifications, please send an email, in French or English, to idswaone@gmail.com . The email should be titled “Paris – Data Security Camp” if you wish to attend thetraining beginning in Paris on May 27, 2013 or “Abidjan – Data Security Camp” if you wish to attend thetraining seminar in Abidjan that begins on July 15, 2013.  It should detail your record in human rights, democracy activism, and journalism or as an activist user of social media. If you would like more details before applying by email, please call the following telephone number (in the United States) 00-1-864-986-0813 and leave a message, including your telephone number, so that we can call you back.

Candidates can apply until March 29th 2013 23h59 GMT. Applicants will receive a response in April 2013. Once your candidature has been accepted you will be provided with more detailed information about the training seminars. Demand for places in the training seminars will be high and the number of places is limited. To ensure a good chance of participating, please apply as soon as possible.

Why are these training seminars needed?

A number of recent cases tend to prove that the increased use of online media is being used by repressive regimes to identify and attack democracy advocates in the Gulf of Guinea, especially those who are novices in the use of social media. Unfortunately, it is easy for repressive Governments to find telecommunications companies ready to provide them with Internet surveillance and filtering technologies which can be used against journalists and human rights and democracy advocates.

Network monitoring also permits repressive regimes to track the consumers of online content. This can place not only journalists and activists but also social media users at risk. There is an active debate as to whether on-line media is more beneficial to democratic activists or to repressive governments. Recent unrest in the Middle East and Iran include instances of governments using social media to identify dissidents. Participants in the training seminars will learn about systems of internet surveillance and how to counteract them.

The Goal of the “Internet Democracy Support for West Africa” Project

The main goal of the project named “Internet Democracy Support for West Africa” is to enable unfettered Internet access by inhabitants of countries whose regimes restrict freedom of expression, freedom of the press, democracy and human rights. The aim of the training seminars is to teach groups of people deemed to be “at risk” (journalists, social media activists, human rights and democracy advocates) how best to use Counter-Censorship technologies. Following the seminars, participants will be integrated into the program’s secure online network. They will continue to be provided with regular updates and new versions of the technologies with which they were familiarized at the training seminars. At the end of this project, many more human rights and democracy advocates in West Africa will have the tools and knowledge they need to securely circumvent current Internet censorship and surveillance technologies.

Duration of the project

The project is designed to last for three years, by which time partnerships between Doctor Brooks’ team at Clemson, universities in the Gulf of Guinea and activist user-groups will make the project self-sustaining. Participants at the training seminars given during the first, second and third years will receive ongoing online support.

Tags: Activists, Africa, Democracy, Human, Internet, Journalists, Rights, Security, West

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