Digital Security and Privacy for Human Rights Defenders

Human rights defenders are increasingly using computers and the Internet. In many ways, the Internet has improved their work and security: it increased the effectiveness of their mission, facilitated their access to information and boosted communications with partner organisations. On the other hand, it has ushered in some previously unknown problems and vulnerabilities.

This book is an introduction to the ever growing and complex world of electronic security. Not only will it raise your level of knowledge and awareness about computers and the Internet, it will also warn you of different risks you may face in the digital environment and will tell you how to deal with them. The book is written for human rights defenders, and therefore it also looks at the ways of preventing the erosion of universally guaranteed freedoms. Alongside elements of theory, it offers possible solutions to some security issues for computers and the Internet.

The book has been updated with new information and resources in late 2009.

Download the book:

English PDF versionEnglish PDF version

Spanish PDF versionSpanish PDF version

Vietnamese PDF versionVietnamese PDF version


Front Line acknowledges financial support from Irish Aid which has made this project possible. Responsibility for the contents of the manual rests solely with the author and Front Line.

Front Line and Dmitri Vitaliev would like to thank the following people and organisations for the invaluable help in researching and writing this publication:

  • People in Need
  • Reporters sans frontières
  • Privacy International
  • The OpenNet Initiative
  • Wikipedia
  • Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School
  • International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX)
  • The Association for Progressive Communications
  • Peace Brigades International
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation
  • Cambridge Security Programme
  • Privaterra

Steven Murdoch, Ross Anderson, Elijah Zarwan, Julian Wolfson, Bert-Jaap Koops, Wojtek Bogusz, Mary Lawlor, ...and numerous human rights defenders from countries around the world including Zimbabwe, Guatemala, China, Cuba, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Belarus, Mexico etc. for answering questions, providing testimonials and evidence that resulted in the idea behind this book and its contents.