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How do I protect my information?

When engaging in public interest litigation (PIL), it is important to ensure that your information is kept safe. If the information in relation to your case such as correspondence with lawyers, strategy, evidence concerning vulnerable individuals or communities, is not kept confidential this may eventually weaken your position during litigation or negotiations and may also pose risks to those you aim to help.

1

Safety measures

Whether your case concerns violations by a state, a private company, a private person or others, you need to take measures to ensure your information’s confidentiality, integrity, availability, and safety.

a) Confidentiality

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.

b) Integrity

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

c) Availability

When you need the information to prepare legal filings, show evidence in court, or cooperate with journalists, make sure you have it readily available in a form that is fit for the purpose. For example, you may want to black out sensitive personal information on copies of documents you are sharing with others and this can take some time with longer documents.

d) Safety

Protect your information by ensuring that it is kept in a physically safe place. This can avoid the irreparable damage which would result from papers being lost, computers being stolen etc.

2

Useful security tools

Here are some tools which can greatly enhance your security.

  • Martus software A useful tool to help you keep information in a safe place is the Martus software. The Martus team describes it as “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) provides good security resources that are relevant not only for journalist, but also for your purposes. Check out:

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