4. Ensure your and others safety

Whilst sharing information in an emergency can contribute to response and recovery efforts, it is important to avoid placing yourself or others in danger. Therefore, it is important to ensure your own and other citizens’ safety while communicating in an emergency. Trying to protect the privacy of yourself and others by masking personal identifying information can be an important part. Also do not hinder those providing aid.

Key steps: 
  • Be conscious that the data you share via new media may be being monitored.
  • Consider the political environment you are participating in. It may be best to avoid sharing person identifiable information (e.g., the use of location identifiers if this could cause trouble for you).
  • In order to protect yourself from undue attention of surveillance activities while using information and communication technologies to share or get access to information during emergencies and crises, there are a number of approaches you can use.
    • Virtual Private Networks (VPN) and encryption technologies can help you stay anonymous while accessing, creating and sharing information. For example, applications like Hushmail offer encryption technologies to enable individuals to communicate with each other while safeguarding anonymity.
    • When sharing sensitive information, if the situation requires it, consider using applications that remove information after a specified time period such as Efemr or Wickr that can be used to create messages and tweets that self-destruct shortly after being viewed by the recipients.
    • While using these technologies, please note that being anonymous is not a free pass for engaging in activities, such as inciting violence, which may put others at risk. Indeed, such uses of technologies may in the long run be used to rationalize even more intrusive surveillance and censorship mechanisms.
  • When recording information or requesting others to record information for you, ensure you are respectful of your and their physical wellbeing (e.g., avoid any potential risk of injury).
  • Also respect the professionals working on the disaster site and do not get in their way.
  • Avoid staying any longer than necessary in a threatened area.
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