Welcome to the United Nations | Department of Economic and Social Affairs

The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the Tenth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in João Pessoa, Brazil, from 10 to 13 November 2015. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record. 

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>> AMALIA:  Good afternoon.  Can we just start the session, please?  Hi, hi, everyone.  Good afternoon.  Can you listen to me?  Yes?  Please, can you join us in the table?  This is not the best setting for this session, I apologize for that.  We didn't know that.  But this is our session room.  So if you can join us, come closer to us because, really, this is more like a conversation between friends than a big panel.  And it is actually very short, also.  It is just half an hour.  So I appreciate if you come closer to us.

Well, let's start, then.  Thank you very much for all of you to be here.  It is a great pleasure for us having this session, having the launch of this mobile app that we have been working for a lot of time.  And we have put a lot of our heart in this app.  So I'm very glad you are joining us today to know what Hancel is about.  This is a joint effort between several Latin American organizations, the foundation for the press freedom in Columbia, Karisma Foundation also from Colombia and at the begin of this project, xactual, Mexico, another Latin America NGO.  So Hancel is a security app designed for Android mobile online.  Having in mind the security, the Safety of Journalists and activists.  But useful for more general public as you will see while we discuss a little bit more about the app and you know what are the features of this app.  Is for journalists for activists but it's also for general public.

Hancel has three components, three important components or three objectives.  One is to alert when there is a life‑threatening situation or a physical imminent attack.  It also offers secure private communication tools.  And it also aims to promote digital self‑protection.  Hancel also facilitates a set of communication tools to improve the security and protect the privacy of personal information that we have in our ‑‑ usually in our devices without relying on external, on third parties.

Some of the ‑‑ well, these are the features that this mobile application has.  Alert button, end‑to‑end encrypted chat and voice and re‑self‑assessment.  These are the features of this app.  We’re going to go a little bit more in detail a little bit later on, but these are the features of this app.

And the idea of this app -- I don't know what happened, okay.  Once again, the idea behind is security and privacy.  Securing our communications and make anonymous our communication, as well.  And to finalise on this short presentation just a quote from Edward Snowden that highlight importance of this application.  “I don't want to live in a world where everything that I say, everything I do, everything I talk to, every expression of gratuity or love or friendship is recorded.  This is somehow what is behind of this app.  It is a free software project as I say being developed by several organizations.  And we have a web page available so you can go there and know more about, although we're going to explain here what is the application more in detail and how it emerged, how the idea, how we came up with this idea.

And also if you, after we finish this session, you have more questions about the app, you can comment to us and ask us those questions, but you also can write to us on this email.  So now I'm going to pass the word to Diego, who will talk a little bit more on how this application was conceived.

>> DIEGO:  Thanks, Amalia --

>> AMALIA:  One second, sorry.  To the people that are that far, can you come closer?  Because this is a conversation between friends, and we don't want to see you that far.  If you come here and join us in the round table, that will be better.  This is a very short session.  This is the worst setting we can have for this presentation of this app.  So make us feel a little bit better by coming closer to us, please.  Thank you.

>> DIEGO:  Thanks, Amalia.  Let me tell you more about the inception of this project.  I'm Diego, I’m one of the founders of Mexican NGO named factual.  We create networks of journalists so they can learn from each other and they can learn about new technologies that can help them do their work better, in a better way.  So basically as you may already know, Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries to do journalism in.  Basically more than 55 journalists have been killed in the last ‑‑ since 2010 in Mexico according to the Inter‑American Human Rights Commission. So that was the context we started this project around three years ago.  And we realized that even the most experienced journalists, those that were winning awards for their incredible journalistic pieces, they didn't even know that there were NGOs out there that could help them create security protocols in order to avoid dangerous situations or just to plan their trips to dangerous areas of the country in a better way.

So we thought that there was a need for sort of a tool that would connect those journalists with NGOs in Mexico at least, such as Article 19, the committee to protect journalists, freedom house, et cetera.  And we also realized that one of the recommendations that these NGOs gave to journalists was that once they were traveling in the country to dangerous areas that they would have to send constantly instant messages to their family, friends, editors, sending their location and basically a message saying I'm okay.  I have already reached this part of the trip.

So we thought, hey, there must be a better to do this automatically using technology.

And then a friend of mine who started this project with me, Ella, got kidnapped in one of the most dangerous areas of Mexico, Michoacan.  She was kidnapped for four hours because she was covering a story on a territory that was being basically controlled by organized crime.

And after that, after she was released, there was an eight‑hour trip towards the closest city.  So during those eight hours in the middle of the night, she was sending me each hour a message telling me that she was okay.

So that's the moment that we knew we had to do this.  There was a more efficient way to do this using technology.  But we realized it is not technology itself that is going to solve the issue of dangerous situations for journalists.  We need to connect them with NGOs that can help them create the security protocols that would lessen or minimize the danger they could face in such difficult and dangerous scenarios as the one they are living in Mexico and also in other     countries, such as Colombia.

So basically in Mexico, although we tried to approach and present this project, and we did present this project to several NGOs, it was only the flip -- the freedom of press foundation in Colombia, the only one that took this project and really tried to push this and implement in Colombia with the help of Karisma.  So I'm very proud to introduce Jonathan that will tell us about the work that the FLIP is doing.  To make this more than a technological project but help journalists to create better protocols to protect themselves, to have journalists organise themselves and not depend on others for their security but use tools like this to connect with each other before and during a dangerous trip or a dangerous assignment and just use technology as a pretext to train journalists in several technologies such as protect themselves digital but also so physically in different scenarios.  So please tell us about the work.

>> JONATHAN:  Thanks, Jonathan. Hi, I'm Jonathan and I work for the Freedom Press Foundation, FLIP.  It's based in Bogota in Colombia.  FLIP is an organisation that has bee working with journalists to enhance their safety in Colombia for journalists for more than 19 years.  It was created by the Gabrielle Garcia Marquez and a journal of journalists who were terrified by the high number of journalists who were killed every year.

Colombia is a country that in the last three decades has been in the top 10 of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists.  In that year, 1996, the number of murders was one of the highest in Colombian history.  Why I'm telling you this?  Because the safety of journalists is one of the most important issues that directly affect daily the work of journalists.

However, in today's scenario, we see that the type of attacks against the press have changed, and the challenges in terms of security are different and involve new strategies.  That is why the FLIP has decided to invest in Hancel because it's a value app that combines technology tools and strategy focusing on three aspects: by immediately assessing the risk of journalists, by reducing the chances of communication or violence, and finally by generation pedagogy to take protection actions.

The last two issues I just mentioned, surveillance, and culture of self‑protection are essentials in the Colombian context.

Last month, we conducted a poll with more than 600 journalists from around the country, and 20 percent claim to have been monitored by state agents.  Another scandal that shows the size of the problem took place in early 2015 when it was discovered that communications were intercepted more than 200 journalists who were covering the peace process between the government and FARC guerillas.

The second concern is the lack of culture to take preventative actions.  Also in the past 40 years, 144 journalists have been killed.  Reporters continue doing their work as if they were lone wolves without taking preventive measures.  Neither journalists nor media think not of protection as the first step to reduce the risk.

During this three-year process that Diego described, we have spoken to journalists from different countries that share a similar context to the Colombia and believe that a tool like Hancel will be essential for the daily work.  And it was this need that has motivated us to continue this process where we have gained valuable lessons that make us think that this is a successful path that can help reduce the risk of journalists both in Colombia and in other parts of the world.

Now Gloria is going to talk about the app and the functions that it can help the journalists.

>> AMALIA:  Before going to Gloria, I want to ask Diego, because you probably are asking yourself where this name come from, Hancel.  And I want him to tell a little bit the story where this name come from.

>> DIEGO:  Basically it comes from the famous children's story Hansel and Gretel.  As you know they leave the path of bread crumbs as they approach the house of the witch so they can know the path toward home safely.  We modify obviously with the S and change it a C as a cell phone.  And I believe Brazilians will know the story more as Joa and Maria's story.  So that's Hancel's story.

>> AMALIA:  Thank you.  Now Gloria is the developer of this app as it is today.  She is from Colombia.  She's part of the Mozilla community in Colombia.  She also collaborated with Charisma Foundation, and she’s a free-software activist. So I present to you Gloria who will talk more about the functions of this.

>> GLORIA:  Thanks, Amalia and Jonathan and Diego.  I will explain you the Hancel functionalities a bit more deeply.

We kind of started with very important functionality that is trust rings.  Trust rings are a group of contacts you trust, of course, like family, relatives, friends or key contacts like your boss, your editor, some organizations, who will receive an alert message by SMS in case you are in danger.  This feature is already done in our application, but actually we can see all the contacts in a ring.  And this is not too much prerate.  So we are looking for a way to be anonymous and allow the creation of contacts in a ring in an anonymous way, by an invitation link or something similar.  We are in this moment researching a different way, a second alternative.

Other functionality is the location tracking.  The location tracking allows to share the location in a period of time defined by yourself or by the user.  This tracking information is an anonymous link that can be shared with your selected contacts, and you can open it using Hancel application.  This functionality is already done.  But we will improve this functionality allowing to share the tracking location by a web browser in order to share the link using social networks, email or something, or other functionalities in your cell phone.

The most important one is the alert button.  The alert button can be activated in two ways.  One way is by -- let me show you.  One way, the first way is by software using our -- pressing the button.  And the second way is by hardware.  Just pressing five times very, very fast the power button.

This functionality will send an SMS message to your contacts and informing about your location, the power level and a small and sort message saying you are in danger, please call somebody or advise authorities.

There is another functionality that we are thinking to develop, and it is the alert by absence.  The functionality will inform to all the active rings or people in your rings when you have been absent for a long time because maybe something happened and you couldn't have the opportunity to use the alert button.  And this is not developed yet.  We are investing.

And the next one is a point-to-point chat, an encrypted chat.

In the past, Hancel used to have a nonencrypted chat, but it was not anonymous.  And we used Limfon that is a server as intermediate.  But this is not much prerate because all your communications is in service of other company that is open source but, anyway, is other company.  And in this moment, we are looking for alternatives to avoid intermediate service allowing more anonymously and increasing the security.  And we are always having in mind to keep the chat encrypted and the securest channels, sending the communication by HTTPS.

And the functionality is the point to point voice.  That's similar to chat.  We used to have Limfon as intermediate because we need a voice server, but it is the same problem.  Or all the users that are using the Limfon servers.  Actually we are looking and researching for alternatives in order to keep this communication without intermediate, more prerate, more secure and anonymous.  This functionality called similar to talk-to-talk like in other applications like Telegram or WhatsApp.  But the possibility we love and we want is to have a real IP voice by a secure channel.

The target or Hancel as Amalia say is to improve the security and privacy of communication not just for journalists but also for everyone who use Hancel.  At the first it was oriented toward journalists, but we are trying to open more the application.

If you are interested on a test or to check the application, we will have hosted in the technical tech stand.  And we will have a launching very soon.  But just for a closed list of people because we are in this moment very beta, if you want to be part of this list of people who will test the application, please email us or contact us in the event and we will add you to the list.  Thank you for your help.

>> AMALIA:  Thank you, Gloria.  I really want to thank Gloria because she has been working on this application for a very long time.  And she's been doing a great work here with two other developers that we have had during this whole development process.  And it's a lot of effort.  And she's doing it mostly because she believes in this app and they are doing it mostly because they believe in this app.  So I really want to thank Gloria for her work.

And now we have invited also Guillermo Ganela from UNESCO to make the connection with the work that UNESCO is doing on the protection for journalists.  So please.

>> GUILLERMO:  Thank you, Amalia.  And it's a pleasure to be in this session.  Actually my comments will be very brief to say first, threatens to journalists are very, very serious.  I mean, we are funortunately watching a raise in the number of killings, which is the severe case of violence against journalists.  But the number of kidnappings, threatens, psychological threatens, digital threatens are increasing everywhere.  And they are particularly high in Latin America.  And because of this phenomena, for the first time in history, all the United Nations' agencies, funds and programmes decided to create a UN plan of action on the issue of violence against journalists and fight impunity.  In 2012, all the agencies, funds, and programs have signed this plan.  And the plan is basically focusing three big areas:  prevention, protection and the fight against impunity.

However, public policies in many parts of the world are concentrating very much in the issue of protection, which of course is very important.  But this is just to solve the emergency.  Taking a journalist out of his or her area to protect his or her life is very important.  But this generates an additional problem.  Who is going to report on the very important issues in that particular area if the journalist, the blogger, the social communicator was taken out of the area?

That said, the prevention strategies are fundamental and vital for this.  And this kind of app is exactly that.  So we are looking forward -- when I say we, United Nations and particularly UNESCO that is the leading agency for this issue -- on more prevention strategies, on more prevention tools like this one.

Just two words to finalise.  As they said, privacy issue is very important in this kind of tool, so we strongly recommend to keep developing all the security measures to warranty the privacy of those that are using this tool because this is fundamental for the very issue we are discussing here, that is the security of journalists and others.

The second issue is this tool, as they said, can be also useful for other Human Rights defenders, not only journalists.  So I strongly recommend you to share this initiative with other groups dealing with Human Rights defenders' security.

And, finally, I thought you should have maintained the gender balance of the initial Hänsel and Gretel story and not taking the woman out of the title.  But, anyway, it is just a comment.  Thanks a lot.

>> AMALIA:  As I say at the beginning, this is a very short session.  Thank you very much for being here.  I don't think we have time.  They are actually kicking me out of here, all of us.  So we don't have more time for asking questions or anything like that, but we are available.  You can approach us and ask questions.

Once again, the app is going to be available at the [Google] Play store.  But it will be close, for closed list.  So if you are interested on testing this beta app, please approach us.  Write to our contact email.  And also, once again, we are going to be at the tactical tech stand to do some demo with the app so you can join us also there to see how the app works.  Thank you very much for joining us today.

[End of session.]