In July 2018, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) conducted a training around digital security for LGBTI human rights defenders, supported by ProtectDefenders.eu. For three days, 19 participants from twelve countries across Latin America and the Caribbean gathered together in Mexico City to learn how to integrate holistic and digital security into their organisational practices. Now more than ever, it is crucial for human rights defenders to learn how to make informed decisions when communicating online, and safely exercise their rights without falling prey to preventable digital threats. This is all the more true for those defending the rights of communities of sexual, gender and sex minorities: as much as the opening of digital spaces has helped LGBTI individuals break their isolation, it has also made people’s privacy and work to help change public awareness more exposed to attacks.
Many human rights defenders are indeed aware of the techno-political context around them, but sometimes lack the resources to protect themselves. This is where this training came in handy, immediately familiarising participants with concrete methods for improving their digital security. A few interactive role-play activities introduced defenders to the structure of the Internet and of mobile phone network technologies, highlighting where potential threats to their work were hiding. During the training, participants also received an intensive introduction to encryption for emails, messages and sensitive data, and learnt a few good practices on how to protect their accounts and create strong passwords.
Those days proved to be an intense capacity building experience for all the defenders involved: not only they had the opportunity to immediately test what they were learning, but also built skills that they can now use in their activism, and transfer within their own communities.