Last week, the 2015 Oslo Freedom Forum united hundreds of international voices to address some of the world’s most critical human rights issues with the goals of challenging ideas and implementing change. The Rift Recon Team was on site running the conference’s first Tech Lab, which was designed to advise the attending activists, journalists, attorneys, artists, government officials, and other warm bodies on sensitive issues of security, privacy, and anonymity.
“This year’s company presence was markedly different from last year’s,” said Rift Recon CEO Eric Michaud, “Last year we combined a presentation with subsequent focus groups, but we discovered an incredible demand for extensive individualized attention and for competent security practitioners to be present in an ‘on-call’ manner. We then pitched the concept of a “tech lab” to OFF and began planning for the next phase.”
CEO Eric Michaud, Intelligence Instructor Brian O’Shea and Web Application Security Specialist Mike Fauzy worked together over a ten-hour period to address the concerns of a diverse array of inquiring minds, all with the common goal of attacking human rights violations. The team walked attendees through modified risk assessments to determine unique threat levels; probing for adversarial information, personal security capabilities, perceived danger to life, information on past security breaches, and more.
“We knew that presenting a trifecta of experts in their respective fields was critically important,” noted Brian O’Shea, “Unfortunately there tends to be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to working with at-risk populations, when in fact their needs vary extensively and require tailored advice. For example, if we’re speaking to secure communication, some people aren’t using the internet at all and are exclusively sharing information face-to-face, while some are operating in a country where the prevalent phone company is targeting them, ensuring none of their phone communications are secure. You can’t provide those two parties with the same canned advice – the stakes are high, and you’re apt to get people killed.”
Rift Recon is in the process of following up with a handful of at-risk individuals they attended to at OFF and are busy laying the groundwork for an increased focus on human rights issues for the remainder of the year.
“We feel privileged to be welcomed into the trusted community that the Human Rights Foundation facilitates,” Michaud remarked, “We’re honored to be in a position to meet the needs of so many global pioneers.”
For more information on this year’s Oslo Freedom Forum, visit their website for press, upcoming events, and videos of this year’s speakers.
– Arianna Travaglini
Executive Assistant at Rift Recon