EngageMedia Blog

Apakah Profesi Wartawan Aman di Indonesia?

by EM News November 16, 2017
Apakah penggunaan Whatsapp adalah langkah aman bagi wartawan untuk memberikan pertanyaan tambahan pada seorang narasumber? Adakah aplikasi alternatif lain yang lebih aman? Apakah bekerja dengan resiko membahayakan bisa dikatakan normal bagi para wartawan? Amankah jika para wartawan dibiarkan berbagi komputer di kantor redaksi mereka? Pertanyaan-pertanyaan ini muncul dalam dua periode wawancara dengan sejumlah wartawan di Indonesia sebagai bagian dari riset oleh EngageMedia mengenai keamanan digital wartawan.

Apakah Profesi Wartawan Aman di Indonesia?

Oleh Yerry Borang and Egbert Wits

Sebelumnya di tahun 2017, kami bekerja sama dengan Citizen Lab, untuk berdiskusi dengan wartawan-wartawan dari Papua, Aceh, dan Jawa Tengah untuk mendalami masalah terkini mengenai keamanan bekerja sebagai wartawan. Enam belas wartawan kami wawancarai, kami fokus pada persoalan keamanan digital dan bagaimana wartawan menggunakan teknologi (dengan aman). Selain di Indonesia, riset ini juga kami jalankan di Filipina.

Meskipun jumlah situs yang membantu kualitas keamanan pekerjaan kita sudah bertambah, namun ada diskusi yang terlewatkan, yakni mengenai pro dan kontra dari keamanan digital bagi wartawan, serta tentang berbagai kendala keamanan digital yang mereka hadapi di era cepatnya arus informasi dan instant deadline. Kami berharap bahwa hasil riset yang kami sebarkan ini dapat berkontribusi bagi diskusi ini. Mari kita mulai dengan menelaan latar belakang Pendidikan para wartawan.

Pendidikan Jurnalisme

10 dari 16 wartawan yang kami wawancarai memiliki latar belakang Pendidikan di program studi jurnalisme. Mereka mendapatkan materi perkuliahan seputar keselamatan fisik dalam proses peliputan, namun materi mengenai keamanan digital sepenuhnya absen. “Tidak ada perhatian sama sekali terhadap keamanan digital selama saya mengecap Pendidikan jurnalisme” (Jakarta no. 2). Ketika menelaah program-program studi jurnalisme di beberapa universitas di Jawa [1] hari ini, kami tidak menemukan satupun institusi yang memiliki materi ajar mengenai keamanan digital atau keselamatan wartawan. Ketika job training, mungkin? Sayangnya juga tidak. Tak satupun perwakilan pihak media yang kami wawancarai mengatakan bahwa mereka memberikan pelatihan esktra mengenai isu keselamaan dan keamanan. Pengetahuan yang beredar mengenai keamanan digital sunggguh minimal dan pengetahuan itu diperoleh biasanya dari diskusi sesama wartawan. Umumnya, para wartawan mulai mempelajari atau mencari informasi tentang keamanan digital dan keamanan kerja setelah mereka merasa terancam, dilecehkan, atau pengalaman negatif lain akibat dari pekerjaan jurnalistik mereka.

Minimnya pelatihan mengenai keamanan online dan offline adalah fakta yang mengkhawatirkan mengingat kondisi keselamatan wartawan di Indonesia ada dalam kondisi genting. Human Rights Watch melaporkan [2] bahwa angka kekerasan terhadap wartawan meningkat. Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI), sebuah lembaga swadaya masyarakat bagi para wartawan, melaporkan bahwa ada 78 insiden kekerasan terhadap wartawan pada tahun 2006 [3], termasuk dilakukan oleh aparat keamanan.  Sebuah peningkatan tajam dibandingkan dengan 42 insiden di tahun 2015, dan 40 di tahun 2014. AJI menemukan bahwa hanya sedikit dari 78 pelaku kekerasan yang berhasil diadili. Jadi, meskipun sudah ada beberapa produk hukum [4] yang melindungi profesi wartawan, akses pada keadilan masihlah sulit diraih.

Smartphones

Semua wartawan yang terlibat dalam riset kami sangat bergantung pada smartphone untuk berkomunikasi dan merekam wawancara. Nomor kontak narasumber juga disimpan di sana. Grup percakapan Whatsapp adalah sumber informasi penting karena menjadi tempat berbagi informasi yang efektif. Hanya tiga dari enam belas wartawan percaya bahwa data dalam telepon genggam mereka akan aman juga digunakan dengan benar. Metode keamanan seperti encrypted messaging tidak diketahui secara luas, meskipun umumnya para wartawan sadar bahwa informasi sensitif lebih baik tidak disirkulasikan melalui aplikasi mobile chat atau SMS. “Pesan penting lebih baik tidak dikirim lewat SMS. Agar aman.” (Papua no. 1)

Ironisnya, umumnya para wartawan sadar bahwa keamanan gadget mereka rentan karena mudah diakses oleh orang lain ataupun diretas oleh pihak yang ingin menginvestigasi data yang mereka miliki. Namun, tidak banyak yang mereka lakukan untuk mencegahnya, dan mereka hanya bisa berharap yang terbaik: “Saya hanya berharap bahwa menggunakan Whatsapp akan aman-aman saja, Saya menggunakannya karena tidak ada alternatif lain” (Jakarta no. 2). Wartawan lain mencoba lebih waspada: “Kami harus lebih mawas diri dalam menggunakan aplikasi dan peralatan digital” (Jakarta no. 7). Tapi umumnya para wartawan tidak begitu peduli. Hanya enam dari enam belas mengatakan “Ya” ketika ditanya apakah mereka berprasangka bahwa keamanan data digital maupun keselamatan fisik mereka mudah terancam sehubungan dengan pekerjaan jurnalistik mereka, kurangnya langkah pencegahan ini begitu mengejutkan. Hampir semuanya menganggap situasi yang sebetulnya berbahaya ini sebagai hal yang biasa saja.

Memisahkan yang Personal dari yang Profesional

Sebelas dari enam belas wartawan menggunakan nomor pribadi dan atau akun sosial media mereka dipakai untuk rutinitas pekerjaan sebagai wartawan. Meskipun banyak yang berpendapat bahwa lebih baik memisahkan akun dan nomor telepon pribadi dengan akun dan nomor untuk bekerja, berbagai alasan membuat mereka tidak mengindahkan prinsip ini. Kenyamanan, seringnya bekerja di luar jam kerja, kedekatan sesama wartawan, dan peralatan kantor yang tidak menunjang menjadi alasan bagi penggunaan nomor dan akun pribadi untuk urusan pekerjaan.

Sehubungan dengan ketidakmampuan wartawan untuk memisahkan akun dan nomor pribadi dan profesional, beberapa wartawan terpaksa harus menonaktifkan akun sosial media mereka, bahkan ada yang menghapusnya. “Saya sudah menghapus semua akun media sosial saya. Sudah tidak punya akun Twitter lagi, begitu juga dengan Facebook dan Instagram. Biar aman saja.” (Jakarta No. 5). Para wartawan juga menyebutkan bahwa mereka sering menjadi korban bully atau menerima ancaman melalui akun sosial media mereka. Juga, detil informasi pribadi mengenai wartawan (anggota keluarga, alamat, dan tempat nongkrong favorit, dsb) dengan mudah ditemui secara online. Sebuah pertanyaan besar apakah kondisi ini bisa ditangani, mengingat nama dan identitas wartawan sering muncul seiring terbitnya artikel mereka di Indonesia. Lewat pencarian sederhana di Google saja, informasi pribadi kita bisa terkumpul dengan mudah.

Keamanan Data

Hanya lima dari enam belas wartawan menyebutkan bahwa perusahaan mereka menerapkan kebijakan yang spesifik mengenai penggunaan perangkat lunak, administrasi online, dan penyimpanan data. Detilnya, hal ini berarti soal penamaan file (pengarsipan dan penyimpanan database) dan perekaman kata kunci yang digunakan untuk menerbitkan artikel. Sebagian besar wartawan menggunakan laptop, smartphone, dan kartu SD pribadi atau peralatan pribadi lain untuk menyimpan data. Hampir semua responden menggunakan perangkat lunak data online (Google Drive atau Dropbox) untuk menyimpan back up data mereka.

Mengenai keamanan data, komentar ini sangat penting: “sebaik apapun kami mengamankan data dalam perangkat elektronik, tetap akan ada orang-orang yang mampu meretasnya” (Jakarta no. 10). Wartawan terlihat memahami adanya bahaya, namun mereka merasa hanya sedikit yang bisa mereka lakukan untuk menanganinya. Para wartawan sudah terlalu terbiasa dengan menyimpan data dalam smartphone pribadi mereka, dan kurangnya alternatif sistem pengamanan, adalah kesepakatan para responden tentang perilaku mereka dengan data digital. Tak satupun perusahaan media tempat para wartawan bekerja membuat aturan ketat mengenai keamanan digital, berbagi komputer di ruang redaksi dipandang sebagai aktivitas yang dianggap wajar. Bahkan kata kunci untuk mengakses komputer tersebar, untuk berjaga-jaga jikalau ada masalah dengan computer atau jika file tertentu butuh diakses wartawan lain. Kesimpulannya, keamanan penyimpanan data tidak dipertimbangkan sebagai sebuah isu penting.

Jakarta vs Daerah

Ada perbandingan yang kontras antara paktik kewartawan di Ibukota Indonesia, Jakarta, dengan di kawasan-kawasan lain Indonesia. Wartawan-wartawan di Jakarta merasa diri mereka lebih aman dalam menjalankan praktik kewartawanan, sedangkan wartawan-wartawan dari kawasan lain, atau yang biasa disebut “daerah”, merasakan lebih banyak bahaya yang mengancam mereka. “Bekerja di luar Jakarta itu masih bahaya. Teman saya wartawan di sana sering menerima terror. Tapi di Jakarta, kami masih cukup aman” (Jakarta no. 3). Ancaman paling bahaya yang mereka sebut datang dari penguasa lokal. Misalnya, pelaku industri lokal, orang pemerintahan lokal, pebisnis lokal yang bekerja di bidang ekstraksi sumber daya alam, dan kelompok-kelompok ekstrimis lokal.

Kami berpendapat bahwa kondisi kontas antara praktik kewartawanan di Jakarta dan kawasan lainnya utamanya dikarenakan oleh perbedaan level akses internet dan akses masyarakat pada informasi. Sebagai tambahan, berbagai kejadian di Jakarta dengan cepat menjelma menjadi isu nasional. Tetapi di “daerah”, karena penetrasi internet lemah dan akses pada informasi lebih sulit. Yang terjadi di level lokal, tetap menjadi lokal; memberikan kesempatan bagi aktor-aktor lokal lebih bebas untuk berkuasa.

Perangkat Lunak Ilegal

Membuat wartawan-wartawan di Indonesia untuk menggunakan perangkat lunak yang legal sungguh merupakan tantangan besar. Hampir semua wartawan menggunakan bajakan, artinya mereka tidak mendapatkan up-date sistem keamanan, dan proteksi dari live malware juga tidak up date.

Kesempatan

Selain menyediakan perangkat lunak asli, pimpinan media juga harus menyediakan pendampingan lebih kepada wartawan. Kelompok diskusi bulanan untuk mendiskusikan dan menginvestigasi isu-isu keamanan digital bisa menjadi solusi. Juga, ada beberapa kursus mengenai perangkat lunak dan internet di luar sana, tapi jika pimpinan media tidak mendorong wartawannya untuk meningkatkan level keamanan data mereka, keadaan tidak akan berubah.

Kesimpulan

Kesimpulan dari mewawancarai para wartawan Indonesia adalah, para wartawan menganggap isu keamanan digital dengan santai. Ditambah dengan adanya persepsi bahwa tidak banyak yang bisa mereka lakukan untuk memperbaiki keadaan, membuat situasi menjadi lebih buruk. Sangatlah penting bagi para wartawan untuk mau lebih memahami bahwa lemahnya keamanan digital bisa berdampak buruk. Bukan hanya bagi wartawannya sendiri, namun juga bagi narasumber, keluarga, pemilik media dan publik pada umumnya.


1 Diantaranya, kami meninjau UGM (Yogyakarta), Unpad (Bandung), UI (Jakarta). Ini link sebuah kurikulum dari program studi ilmu komunikasi, Universitas Atma Jaya (Jakarta).

2 Baca:https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/04/25/indonesia-journalists-under-assault

3 Angka ini hanya menghitung kekerasan yang dialami oleh wartawan “professional”. Banyak lagi kasus yang tidak dilaporkan di mana korbannya adalah jurnalis warga atau wartawan freelance.

4 Contohnya: pasal 28 UUD 1945 menyatakan bahwa negara melindungi kebebasan berpendapat dan berekspresi. Sumber hukum perlindungan terdapat wartawan juga terdapat pada Undang-undang HAM, UU No. 39 (1999), Undang-undang pers UU No. 40 (1999), dan Undang-undang Penyiaran.

Persepsi tentang Keamanan dan Keselamatan Profesi Wartawan di Filipina

by EM News November 16, 2017

Persepsi tentang Keamanan dan Keselamatan Profesi Wartawan di Filipina

Oleh EngageMedia

Filipina secara konsisten selalu masuk di puncak daftar negara-negara paling berbahaya bagi profesi wartawan dan pelaku media. International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), misalnya, mendudukan Filipina sebagai negara paling berbahaya kedua di dunia bagi wartawan. [1]

Menurut Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), 77 wartawan telah terbunuh di Filipina sejak 1992, 75 wartawan dibunuh, dan 68 kasus berakhir dengan impunitas. [2]. Centre for Media Responsibility and Freedoms (CMFR) mengelola sebuah database tentang pembunuhan wartawan di Filipina sejak 1986. Database itu melaporkan adanya 151 upaya pembunuhan sejak 1986 [3] yang mengancam 68 wartawan radio dan 58 wartawan cetak [4]. 57 persen pembunuhan terjadi di wilayah Mindanao, Filipina Selatan.

Kasus impunitas yang paling menonjol dalam pembunuhan wartawan di Filipina adalah kejadian pembantaian di Ampatuan (atau pembantaian Mindanao) di mana 58 orang terbunuh, 32 diantaranya wartawan, pada 23 November 2009. Sampai 5 Januari 2016, 113 dari 197 orang yang menjadi tersangka pembantaian telah ditangkap tapi proses pengadilan masih berlangsung dan terkesan dihambat dan diperlambat [5].

Untuk mengeksplorasi topik ini, dari Juni hingga Juli 2016, berbagai wawancara dengan sejumlah wartawan kami lakukan di Filipina untuk memahami bagaimana persepsi mereka mengenai keamanan dan keselamatan kerja jurnalisme di sana, serta bagaimana strategi mereka untuk menjaga keselamatan.

Tentang Responden

  • Para wartawan yang kami wawancarai adalah campuran antara wartawan tetap dan paruh waktu. Sepuluh wartawan tetap berasal dari beragam perusahaan media, satu seorang pemandu acara televisi, dan tiga wartawan paruh waktu yang secara reguler mengirimkan berita baik kepada media mainstream maupun independen.
  • Ada tujuh wartawan yang bekerja untuk media online, dan empat wartawan bekerja untuk stasiun radio, hampir semuanya mempunyai pengalaman bekerja untuk media cetak, penyiaran, video dan kantor berita radio.
  • Para responden termasuk wartawan-wartawan yang sudah berpengalaman. Enam responden pernah bekerja sebagai wartawan selama sepuluh sampai enam belas tahun, empat responden sudah bekerja lebih dari dua puluh tahun, dan hanya empat wartawan yang menjadi wartawan kurang dari sepuluh tahun.
  • Hampir semua responden menjelajahi ruang peliputan yang sangat luas, di dalam maupun di luar Filipina. Dua puluh wartawan menguasai area liputan Manila dan kawasan ibukota (National Capital Region); enam responden menguasai area liputan Filipina tengah – Visayas (Bacolod, Iloilo, Tacloban); dan tiga responden memiliki area liputan Mindanao. Tiga dari responden juga memiliki area liputan di luar Filipina.
  • Tema peliputan para responden juga sangat bervariasi. Enam diantaranya fokus pada politik (pemilihan umum, pemerintahan, pemerintahan lokal, dan hukum); enam lainnya fokus pada bidang hak azasi manusia (hak buruh, hak masyarakat adat, hak perempuan, dan hak anak-anak); lima responden fokus pada isu perdamaian dan penanganan konflik, lebih spesifiknya isu negosiasi Bangsamoro dan National Democratic Front (NDF) dengan pemerintah Filipina.

 

Narasumber Utama dan Cara Berkomunikasi dengan Mereka

Semua responden sepakat mengenai pentingnya mendapatkan narasumber langsung dari tangan pertama. Beberapa responden menyebutkan bahwa mereka menggunakan sosial media untuk mendapatkan akses ke narasumber-narasumber utama dalam proses peliputan.

Para responden juga sepakat bahwa mendapatkan dan menjaga akses ke sumber utama butuh kerja keras dan ketekunan.

Semua responden memilih untuk mengontak narasumber secara langsung: wawancara tatap muka. Namun, adakalanya keamanan untuk kedua belah pihak yakni narasumber dan wartawan terancam. Dalam kondisi ini, mereka memilih untuk berkomunikasi lewat telepon atau SMS. Selain itu, mereka menggunakan sosial media (pesan pribadi di Facebook atau direct message di Twitter) untuk menginiasi kontak dengan narasumber, atau untuk membuat janji pertemuan.

Semua responden menggunakan beragam cara dan beragam perangkat untuk menyimpan informasi yang mereka kumpulkan dari narasumber mereka. Tak satupun yang dari mereka menggunakan perangkat enkripsi (encryption tools).

Salah satu tantangan yang ada di Filipina adalah, menurut beberapa responden, minimnya peredaran informasi terpercaya di ruang publik (open data) dan sulitnya mendapatkan data statistik dan informasi lain dari pemerintah. Memiliki kontak dengan orang-orang di dalam instansi-instansi pemerintah menjadi sangat penting, meski tidak selamanya bisa terwujud.

Seorang responden berkata: “Biasanya kami bergelut dengan sulitnya mengakses kantor-kantor pemerintah. Tak ada yang lebih sulit daripada itu. Untuk mendapatkan dokumen pemerintah, terkadang kita malah meminta ke organisasi lain. Contoh dari penolakan dari pemerintah, misalnya, Saya ingat bahwa Noynoy Aquino menolak peliputan media sewaktu inagurasi. Kamu butuh kesabaran yang sangat besar bekerja di sini. Saya pernah diminta untuk menunggu enam jam untuk wawancara lima belas menit. Kamu harus ngotot dan mengerjakan apapun yang kamu bisa, dan harus selalu menelpon dan mengingatkan mereka.”

Ada tantangan yang berbeda bagi wartawan yang meliput area di luar kawasan urban di Filipina. Seorang responden mengatakan: “… Jika kamu wartawan dari daerah pinggiran dan kamu ingin mendapatkan informasi resmi dari pemerintah pusat, kamu harus pergi ke pusat kota. Kadang-kadang, meskipun ada kejadian di daerah, dan kami membutuhkan pernyataan dari pemerintah, media-media di pusatlah yang pertama-tama mendapatkan pernyataan resmi. Sudah menjadi norma juga bahwa pemerintah membagikan informasi ke media yang mereka suka. Hal ini juga berlaku bagi pihak kepolisian dan militer, mereka ingin informasi yang disebar selalu merujuk pada pernyataan resmi dari kantor, dan itu selalu datang dari pusat. Sangat sulit bagi kami di daerah untuk mendapatkan akses informasi resmi, oleh karenanya kami memperbesar akses kami ke komunitas akar rumput. Banyak juga agensi-agensi yang tidak memiliki cabang di level provinsi. Kamu butuh waktu untuk mengakeses mereka, kalau kamu ingin menekan mereka agar meluangkan waktu, kamu butuh kolega di kota untuk membantumu. Jika kamu ingin mendapatkan pernyataan dari Commission of Human Rights, mereka tidak punya cabang di provinsi, jadi kita harus menggunakan koneksi kita untuk menjangkau mereka. Namun meskipun kamu bisa menjangkau mereka, sulit juga untuk mendapatkan kepercayaan mereka, berhubung mereka tidak kenal kita. Jika kita mencoba untuk mencari informasi di dalam situs mereka, karena mereka seharusnya menyediakan informasi di sana, kamu juga tidak akan mendapat apa-apa.”

Persepsi tentang Keselamatan dan Strategi Mitigasi

Ketika diajukan pertanyaan mengenai ancaman-ancaman apa yang mereka hadapi dalam pekerjaan, para wartawan memberikan jawaban yang bervariasi:

  • Keselamatan fisik adalah yang utama. Tidak mengejutkan, mengingat Filipina selalu masuk ke dalam daftar negara-negara di mana wartawan bisa terancam nyawanya.
  • Seorang responden mengatakan bahwa kantor medianya pernah diretas.
  • Beberapa mengatakan pernah diprovokasi, diawasi, dan diancam.

Beberapa responden mendapatkan pelatihan mengenai keselamatan dari institusi dimana mereka bekerja, jadi mereka memiliki kesadaran akan resiko ancaman bahaya dan menguasai sedikit kemampuan taktik mitigasi. Teknik mitigasi itu berguna untuk melindungi keselamatan fisik maupun data digital. Antar wartawan biasanya saling membagi taktik ini.

Salah seorang responden mengatakan: “Saya mencoba, meskipun sulit, untuk setidaknya mengganti kata kunci akun-akun media sosial secara rutin. Menggunakan kata kunci yang berbeda untuk tiap akun. Sistem keamanan akun yang berlapis juga itu sangat membantu – verifikasi akun lewat telepon, lewat email, semuanya sangat berguna. Saya tidak nyaman membiarkan laptop saya terbuka ketika ada di ruang publik. Karena dokumen pekerjaan kita ada di sana, bahkan akun personal kita juga di sana. Sudah banyak terjadi insiden ketika data wartawan diretas, dan data itu dipublikasikan di akun Facebook sang peretas. Bagi saya, hal itu sangat tragis. Meskipun tidak disengaja, seperti karena telepon genggam kita dicuri, hilangnya perangkat penunjang profesi kita adalah masalah besar baik untuk karir professional maupun kehidupan personal kita. Seperti jika foto pribadi kita tersebar, iya kan? Kenapa kita harus membiarkan seseorang punya akses itu melakukan itu?”

Saya pikir kita juga harus berhati-hati dalam mengklik tautan. Misalnya jika kita mendapatkan email dari situs pihak ketiga, dulu saya membuka tautan itu tanpa curiga, sekarang saya tidak pernah membukanya lagi. Pasalnya, saya sekarang lebih familiar dengan spam….dan bagaimana melalui ini sejumlah hal bisa tercuri.”

Responden lain fokus pada taktik keselamatan fisik: “jika meliput ke area yang rawan bahaya, kita harus datang bersama teman. Contohnya di Hacienda Luisita, kami harus selalu membawa kawan dan tidak menginap di sana. Kami harus pulang sebelum gelap. Kami juga harus selalu mengabari teman atau keluarga melalui pesan singkat seperti “kami sudah sampai di area liputan” atau “kami sudah kembali dengan selamat.”

Ketika ditanya tentang persepsi mereka mengenai resiko bekerja sebagai wartawan, sebagian besar responden menjelaskan meningkatnya resiko dari pengawasan di dunia online. Hampir semuanya merasa yakin bahwa mereka tengah diawasi secara online. Resiko di dunia online yang mereka hadapi termasuk: agensi berita mereka diretas, diterimanya pesan-pesan provokatif yang membangkitkan emosi (troll), akun atau website dibekukan karena laporan yang masif dari pihak tertentu setelah mereka menerbitkan berita yang tidak menguntungkan pemerintahan, terakhir adalah di-bully di dunia maya.

Semua responden mengerti bahwa pekerjaan mereka mengandung resiko yang besar. Seorang responden mengajukan pendapat mengenai bagaimana menghadapi berbagai tantangan bagi keselamatan wartawan: “Kami harus mendapatkan pelatihan lagi untuk lebih waspada dan hati-hati. Enkripsi—meskipun kamu butuh kompetensi untuk menguasainya. Namun, dengan berbagai kesulitan yang harus kami hadapi untuk menerbitkan berita, saya merasa belajar tentang enkripsi menjadi tidak relevan. Mengapa saya harus mengembangkan kemampuan untuk menyembunyikan informasi ketika sudah menjadi tugas saya untuk membagi informasi? Itu paradoksnya. Pastikan saja kita berhati-hati dengan informasi yang kita dapat dan yang kita publikasikan. Selama semuanya untuk kepentingan umum.”

 

Kesimpulan

Wawancara di tahun 2016 ini berguna sebagai informasi dasar mengenai bagaimana wartawan memandang keamanan dan keselamatan di dunia maya. Tapi itu wawancara setahun lalu. Iklim politik dan situasi di Filipina kini telah berubah drastis. Begitu juga dengan dunia sosial media, perilaku masyarakat, dan dalam takaran tertentu budaya juga mengalami perubahan. Akan sangat menarik untuk mengeksplorasi pengalaman responden yang sama mengenai keamanan dan keselamatan profesi wartawan di Filipina tahun 2017 ini, mungkin dengan jumlah sampel yang lebih besar.

Berbicara mengenai keamanan dan keselamatan wartawan, aspek digital biasanya luput dalam pembahasan atau tak terjamah sama sekali – yang bisa diartikan sebagai celah dalam pemahaman penuh kita mengenai resiko pekerjaan wartawan. Dari wawancara yang sudah diselenggarakan, kami belajar bahwa wartawan sudah menyadari akan resiko dibobolnya data digital kita, namun mereka belum sepenuhnya menyadari hubungan yang jelas antara berkomunikasi online dan keselamatan fisik wartawan. Hubungan ini harus dieksplorasi lebih jauh.

Sebagai sebuah organisasi yang menyediakan pelatihan keamanan digital, riset ini telah membuka beberapa pencerahan yang akan sangat berguna bagi pembuatan materi workshop bagi para wartawan. Spesifiknya, yakni:

  • Meyakinkan bahwa hubungan antara resiko dalam komunikasi digital dan resiko fisik akan dibuat jelas dan itu semua berdasarkan pengalaman aktual para wartawan.
  • Membuat sistem keamanan digital senyaman mungkin, mengingat sistem ini akan dikesampingkan ketika wartawan sudah fokus pada berita yang mereka buat dan pekerjaan kewartawanan lain.
  • Pelatihan mengenai keamanan digital fokus pada mengamankan komunikasi dengan narasumber dan mengamankan arsip-arsip wartawan.

 


    [1] “PH adalah negara paling bahaya kedua bagi wartawan -IFJ” Philippine Daily Inquirer, http://globalnation.inquirer.net/135916/ph-2nd-most-dangerous-country-for-journalists-in-past-25-years-ifj

    [2] Committee to Protect Journalists: https://cpj.org/asia/philippines/

    [3] Database CMFR tentang pembunuhan wartawan di Filipina http://cmfr-phil.org/mediakillings/charts.php

    [4] Database CMFR tentang pembunuhan wartawan di Filipina (by medium) http://cmfr-phil.org/mediakillings/charts.php

    [5] “No justice yet for victims of Maguindanao carnage”' Philippine Daily Inquirer, http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/752535/no-justice-yet-for-victims-of-maguindanao-carnage

    EngageMedia Presents Results and Opens up the Dialogue on Digital Security

    by EM News November 02, 2017

    Dozens of people from Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) gathered in Jakarta on 24th-25th September 2017 to discuss about journalism and security. In recent years, concern for journalist’s safety, especially in the digital sphere, has become an urgent need. Journalists with many different backgrounds in Indonesia felt the internet poses new threats to them, especially through intensified surveillance and the usage of internet for negative purposes. They are complaining that formal laws do not defend them online. The organizer from the headquarters of AJI Indonesia, had invited over twenty branches of AJI, from cities in Sumatera, Sulawesi, Kalimantan, Maluku and Java to come together in Jakarta in order to formulate and share some of problems they are facing.

    During this event EngageMedia presented research findings regarding the (online) safety and digital security of journalists in Indonesia. We focused on Jakarta, but also shared some more general research results from the Indonesia based research and the research from Philippines. Executive Director of AJI Indonesia, Suwarjono and General Secretary Arfi Bambani Amri were among those participating.

    In our presentation we included a first draft of the short video we are developing for this research.

    Some questions that come up from the journalists:

    • What kind of threats are out there, are we talking only digital threats?
    • How to protect sources, how to safely communicate with them?
    • What kind of chat apps for smartphone are safe for you and your colleagues?
    • How to secure data? Is google drive safe enough to store sensitive materials?
    • How much law or State protection for journalists is there regarding digital threats?
    • How can Media companies help journalists to protect themselves? What kind of capacity building do they need?

    Results of our discussion and answers to some of the above questions:

    • We tried to explain that we may need to build a stronger security culture. We should not  depend on certain types technology and apps only, but also consider non tech aspect of digital security.
    • An approach to digital threat need to be more holistic. We know from experiences that tackling just a few aspects of a (digital) threat is not enough. Things are much more intertwined than we think at first.
    • Journalist need to do more research themselves. There are already many resources online, even in Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia).
    • There are many individual experiences and best practices on how journalist can protect themselves. These need to be shared.
    • Don’t share sensitive materials that can be dangerous to yourself and others on the internet.
    • Journalist should be more careful using social media. They need to know precisely what type of information can be shared through social media.
    • Journalists associations and organization can pioneer workshops around security in general and journalist’s digital security more particularly.

     

    One thing for sure was journalists need more assistance and skill to defence their self and privacy. This can be overcome if they get more help from internal and external actors. On this occasion, some AJI journalists already ask for more techical detail assistance and this something that we also suggested that every journalist institution or even media company need to hold and build their own security procedure and standards.

    Perceptions of Safety and Security among Journalists in the Philippines

    by EM News November 16, 2017

    By EngageMedia

    The Philippines is consistently ranked among the top countries unsafe for journalists and media makers. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), for instance, ranked the country as second most unsafe location in the world for journalists [1].

    According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), seventy-seven journalists have been killed in the Philippines since 1992, seventy-five of whom were murdered and sixty-eight of whom killed with impunity [2]. The Centre for Media Responsibility and Freedoms (CMFR) maintains a database on the killing of journalists in the Philippines since 1986. The database reports 151 work-related killings since 1986 [3] of which sixty-eight work in radio and fifty-eight work in print [4]. 57 percent of the killings happened in the Mindanao region.

    The most notable case of impunity in journalist killings in the country is the Ampatuan Massacre (or the Maguindanao Massacre) in which 58 people were killed, 32 of which were journalists, on 23 November 2009. As of 5 January 2016, 113 of the 197 accused of being involved in the massacre have been arrested but the trial is still on-going and fraught with delays [5].

    In order to begin exploring this topic, from June to July 2016, interviews were conducted with journalists in the Philippines to explore how they perceive their security and safety as journalists, and their strategies to keep themselves secure.

    About the respondents

    • The journalists that were interviewed was a mix of full-time employed and freelance journalists. Ten journalists employed full-time with different news agencies, one TV show host, and three freelance journalists who contribute regularly to both mainstream and independent news agencies.
    • While eleven of the journalists work in online news, and four in radio, most of the journalists have experience in print, broadcast, video and radio newsroom.
    • There is vast journalistic experience among the respondents. Six respondents have been working as journalists for ten to sixteen years, four have over twenty years of experience; while only four have less than ten years of experience.
    • Most of the respondents cover multiple geographical locations within and outside the Philippines. Twelve cover Metro Manila and the National Capital Region; six cover the Central Philippines region – The Visayas (Bacolod, Iloilo, Tacloban); and three cover Mindanao. Three of the respondents also cover countries outside of the Philippines.
    • Beats and thematic focus was also varied among the respondents. Six covered politics (elections, government, local government, and laws); another six focus on human rights (labour rights, indigenous people´s rights, women´s rights, and children's rights); five respondents cover peace and conflict issues, specifically the Bangsamoro, and the National Democratic Front (NDF) negotiations with The Philippine government.

    On the value of sources and communicating with them

    All the respondents were unanimous on the importance of having first-hand, direct sources. Some mentioned about getting leads from social media to get to first-hand sources or to cover events.

    They were also unanimous in saying that getting and maintaining good sources takes a lot of work and perseverance.

    All respondents prefer to have direct contact: face-to-face interviews with sources. However there are instances, when the safety of both the source and the journalists is at risk. In these cases they opt to use phone calls and SMS. Increasingly, they are using social media (private messages on Facebook or direct messages on Twitter) to initiate contact with sources, or to set-up meetings with them.

    All of the respondents use a mix of different tools to store the information that they gather from their sources. None of them use encryption tools.

    One of the challenges, according to some of the respondents, is the lack of open data available and the difficulty in getting statistics and other information from government agencies in The Philippines. Having contacts in government agencies to get information is important, but not always possible.

    A respondent says (paraphrased and translated): ¨Usually our struggle is actually with government offices. But other than that, nothing serious. With official documents, sometimes we also ask other organisations if they have one. For official denial, I remembered that Noynoy Aquino administration denied us media accreditation for his inauguration. You need a great amount of patience. I’ve experienced being asked to wait for six hours for a fifteen-minute interview. You just have to be pushy and do everything that you can, and always call and ask.¨

    There is a specific challenge to journalists not based in urban centres in the Philippines. One respondent says (paraphrased and translated): ¨ …the common ones that we get here when you’re in the periphery is that if you want to get information from official sources, you have to go to the urban centres. Sometimes, even if the event has happened here in our area, and we need to get official statements from sources, it’s the media from the urban centers that get the stories ahead of us. There’s also this norm that they only give the stories to media they know. I’m also referring to the police and to the military, where they want the sources to centralise their statement to their chief information officer, who’s usually in the center. It’s difficult for us to get that information that’s why we capitalize in our access to the grassroots communities.  There are also agencies where they don’t have regional offices here in the provinces. You need time to access them, but if you’re pressed for time, we rely on colleagues based in the urban areas. If you want to get statement from Commission of Human Rights, they don’t have offices here in the provinces, so we have to use our connections to reach them, and if you’re able to reach them, it’s difficult to earn their trust, since they don’t know us. If we try to access materials on their website, since they’re supposed to make information accessible there, they’re not there.¨

    Perception of security and mitigation strategies

    When asked about the threats that they face as part of their work, the journalists had varied responses:

    • Physical security was a priority. Not surprising, given that he Philippines is constantly on the list of countries where journalists are likely to get killed on the job.
    • One respondent talked about their news agency being directly hacked.
    • Some talked about being trolled, stalked online, and threatened.

    Some have received security training from other organisations, so there is awareness of risk and a few mitigation tactics exist. For mitigating information security threats, most of the respondents have basic awareness of personal and digital security tactics. They share a range of tactics for both physical and digital security.

    One respondent says: (translated) ¨I try to, but it´s hard. I try to always, at least regularly change my passwords. Using different passwords for different accounts. It helps that there are different layers -- like the accounts through your phone, like with email, there are several ways to verify your accounts. I´m not comfortable leaving my laptop open when I'm in public. Because your work files are there, even your personal accounts. And there have been incidents when people have been hacked, and they [hackers] post on their Facebook profiles. For me, that's really tragic. Even if it's not deliberate, like if your phone gets stolen. Even just losing a device, that's such a big deal for both professional and personal reasons. Even your personal photos, right? Why will you want anyone to have access to that?

    And I think we should be careful about clicking links. You get this email that you have a message from a third party site, before I would open it, but now I never open them. Well, we're more familiar with spam, and when your friends get stolen from (through that).¨

    Another one focuses on physical security tactics: (paraphrased and translated) ¨If the area is high risk, we have to have a buddy when covering. Like for example in Hacienda Luisita, we should always have a pair when covering, and we don’t stay overnight in the area. We should be on our way home before it goes dark. We also update our friends and family through texts like “we’re already here in the area” or “we arrived safe.”

    When asked if their perception of risk due to their work as journalists, most of the respondents mentioned the increasing risk of online surveillance. Most of them were sure they were somehow being watched online. The online risks that they have faced or heard about include: their news agency website being hacked, being trolled online, having their accounts suspended through a mass of complaints whenever they publish anything against the current government, and being cyberbullied.

    All the respondents understand that their work comes with risk. One particular respondent had an insight about information security that encapsulates the challenges faced when it comes to securing journalists: (Paraphrased and translated) ¨We have had training to be more careful and aware. Encryption -- although you need competence in that. With everything we have to deal with to get our stories out, I can´t build skills in encryption. Why would I want to develop skills to hide information when it´s my job to share information? That´s a paradox. Just think that you have to be careful with the information that you get and the information that you get out. For as long as what you do is for the common good.¨

    Although, for some of them, they believe that they are not specifically in any kind of physical danger. Upon asking why, no clear explanations were given. Meaning it’s likely to be a perceived sense or feeling of security.

    Conclusions

    The 2016 interviews are useful baseline information for how journalists perceive their safety and security online. But the interviews took place more than one year ago. Since then, the political climate and situation in the Philippines has changed significantly. So has the social media landscape, behavior and to some extend the culture in the country. It would be interesting to explore with the same respondents, perhaps even with a bigger sample size, how journalists perceive their safety and security in 2017.

    When it comes to journalist safety and security, the digital aspect of their work is left out and unexplored – which is a gap in understanding the full risks that they face. From the interviews, we learned that most journalists had an awareness of digital and online risks, but haven't made clear connections between how they communicate online vis-à-vis their physical safety as journalists. This connection needs further exploration.

    As an organisation that provides digital security training, this research has yielded some insight that will be valuable in designing workshops for journalists. Specifically:

    • Ensuring that the connection between digital communication risks and physical risks are made clear and are also based on the actual experiences of journalists;
    • Making digital security as convenient as possible, given that it tends to fall by the wayside when the journalists become concerned with their stories and their work;
    • For any digital security training to focus on securing communications with sources, and securing archiving practices for journalists.

    [1] “PH 2nd most dangerous country for journalists – IFJ”' Philippine Daily Inquirer, http://globalnation.inquirer.net/135916/ph-2nd-most-dangerous-country-for-journalists-in-past-25-years-ifj

    [2] Committee to Protect Journalists: https://cpj.org/asia/philippines/

    [3] CMFR Database on Killing of Journalist in the Philippines  http://cmfr-phil.org/mediakillings/charts.php

    [4] CMFR Database on Killing of Journalist in the Philippines (by medium) http://cmfr-phil.org/mediakillings/charts.php

    [5] “No justice yet for victims of Maguindanao carnage”' Philippine Daily Inquirer, http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/752535/no-justice-yet-for-victims-of-maguindanao-carnage

    Are Journalists Safe in Indonesia?

    by EM News November 16, 2017
    Do you think it’s safe for journalists to use Whatsapp to ask additional questions to a source? Are there safer alternatives to using such apps? Can working dangerously be considered normal for journalists? Should journalists be allowed to share computers in editorial offices? These are some of the questions which came up during two rounds of interviews with Indonesian journalists as part of EngageMedia’s research on the digital safety of journalists.

    Internet_Indonesia

    By Yerry Borang and Egbert Wits

    Earlier in 2017, in collaboration with Citizen Lab, we spoke to journalists from Papua, Aceh, and Central Java in an effort to find out the current situation regarding the safety of journalists there. In total, 16 journalists were interviewed, with a focus on digital security and how journalists (safely) use technology. Besides Indonesia, this research was also conducted in the Philippines.

    Although there’s a growing number of websites that can help you work more safely, a larger narrative discussing the pros and cons of digital security for journalists and the digital security challenges they face in today’s fast-paced, “instant deadline” world is missing. We hope that sharing the outcomes from our research in Indonesia can help contribute to this discussion. Let’s start by looking at journalistic education.

    Journalistic Education

    10 out of the 16 interviewed journalists have received journalistic education. While physical safety in the field was given ample attention in their curriculum, information on digital security was completely absent. "There was no attention on digital security during my journalistic education" (Jakarta no.2). When looking into journalistic education at several Indonesian universities in Java [1] today, we found that none of the institutions have an introduction to digital safety or security for journalists. On the job training perhaps? That was also not the case. None of our interviewed journalists’ employers had offered an extra training on security or safety issues. Existing knowledge on digital safety is minimal and comes mostly from peer sharing among journalists. A general rule of thumb we discovered from the Indonesian journalists is that they start learning or searching for information after they felt threatened, abused or were otherwise negatively impacted as a result of their journalistic practice.

    The lack of training on online and offline safety is an alarming fact given that the safety of journalists in Indonesia is precarious, to say the least. Human Rights Watch reports [2] that violence against journalists in Indonesia is on the rise. The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), an Indonesian non-governmental union, reported that there were 78 incidents of violent attacks on journalists in 2016 [3], including those by security forces. A stark increase compared with 42 in 2015, and 40 in 2014. AJI found that attackers have been brought to justice in only  a few of these 78 incidents. And even though there are several laws [4] protecting Indonesian journalists, access to justice is still difficult.

    Smartphones

    All the journalists in our research primarily rely on their smartphones for communication and the recording of interviews. Contacts of sources are saved in the device and Whatsapp chat groups are important sources of information and a place to share. Only 3 out of 16 journalists believe the data in their mobile phones are secure if used properly. Methods like encrypted messaging are not widely known, although most realize that sending sensitive information is better not done through mobile chat applications or regular text messages. "Important messages are better not sent by regular sms. Just to be safe." (Papua no.1).

    Remarkably, most journalists realize that they are prone to outsiders tapping into their phones or investigating the data in them. Yet, they do little to prevent it, and some just hope for the best: "I just hope it's safe to use Whatsapp. I use it as there's no other alternative" (Jakarta no.2). Others just try to be cautious: “We have to be more cautious in using application and digital devices” (Jakarta no.7). But generally speaking, journalists do too little. With 6 out of 16 answering “yes” to being asked if they suspected that they were under any kind of digital or physical danger due to their work, their lack of preemptive action comes as a surprise. It’s almost as if they take the current situation for granted.

    Keeping the Personal Separate from the Professional

    11 out of 16 journalists regularly use their personal numbers and/or social media accounts for their work. Although many stated that it is better to keep personal social media accounts and phone numbers separate, a variety of reasons led them to abandon this principle. Convenience, frequently working outside of office hours, close ties among journalists, and the lack of office equipment were the reasons most mentioned for using personal accounts and numbers while performing professional duties.

    Due to journalists’ inability to separate the personal from the professional some have had to discontinue or even entirely delete their social media accounts. "I have deleted all my social media accounts. No more Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for me. Just to be safe." (Jakarta no.5) Journalists also mentioned being bullied or receiving threats through their social media accounts. An additional danger is that journalists’ private details (family members, addresses, favourite hangouts, etc.) are can be easily discovered online. It’s a big question if this is preventable, as journalists’ names are often mentioned alongside articles in Indonesia. A simple Google search based on someone’s name often reveals quite a lot about their private life.

    Safety of Data

    Only 5 out of 16 journalists mentioned that their companies had specific policies on the use of software, online administration, and saving data. Upon further questioning, this mainly referred to naming files (archiving and database storage) and having access to passwords which allow for articles being published. Most journalists use personal laptops, smartphones, SD-cards or other devices to store interview data. Almost all use online storage software (Google Drive or Dropbox) for backing up their data.

    Regarding the safety of data, this comment is exemplary: “No matter how good we save our data in electronic devices, it still can be hacked by certain people” (Jakarta no.10). Journalists seem to be aware of the danger, but feel there is little they can do about it. The convenience of, for instance, saving information on a personal smartphone, and lack of (more secure) alternatives are the comments that are most often heard. None of the journalists’ employers have strict safety procedures and sharing computers at the office is commonplace. Even login passwords to computers are shared in case there is a problem or if certain files need to be accessed. In general, the safety of stored data is not considered an issue.

    Jakarta versus Outer Regions

    A stark contrast was seen between journalists operating in Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, versus those active in the outer regions of the archipelago. Journalists in Jakarta feel much safer and often mention that working in more remote locations is more dangerous. “Working in other places outside Jakarta is still dangerous. My fellow journalists there often get terrorized. But in Jakarta, we are still reasonably free.” (Jakarta no.3) The biggest threats mentioned are local actors. For example, local industries, local government officials, entrepreneurs/companies working in resource extraction industries and (extremist) civil society groups.

    We suspect that this contrast between Jakarta and the outside regions is largely due to varying degrees of internet access and civilians’ access to information. Additionally, any event taking place in Jakarta quickly becomes national news. In the outer regions, internet penetration is lower and having access to news is more difficult. What happens local, often stays local; allowing local actors more freedom to act "unnoticed".

    Illegal Software

    Getting Indonesian journalists to use legitimate operational software is a challenge. Almost all use pirated copies, meaning they don’t receive regular security updates and live malware protection is missing.

    Opportunities

    Besides providing original copies of operational software, employers should provide more assistance to the journalists. A monthly working group comprised of journalists to discuss and investigate digital security issues could make a difference. Again, there’s plenty of software and online courses out there, but if employers are not encouraging their journalists to upgrade their level of security, the existing status quo is likely to adhere.

    Conclusion

    The conclusion of our interviews with Indonesian journalists is that they take digital security very lightly. Combined with the perception that there is little they can do about it, the current situation is not a good one. Most importantly, journalists will have to become more aware that lax digital security can have a very negative impact. Not only for the journalists themselves, but also for their sources, families, employers and the public.


    1 Amongst others, we looked at UGM (Yogyakarta), UNPAD (Bandung), UI (Jakarta). Here a link with an example of a representative curriculum. Communication Studies at the Journalist Dept of Atma Jaya University (Jakarta).

    2 See: https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/04/25/indonesia-journalists-under-assault

    3 This number only captures the violence faced by “professional” journalists. There are many more unreported cases where victims were citizen journalists or freelancers.

    4 Some examples: Article 28 of the Indonesian Constitution (1945), grants the Freedom of expression to every human being. Human Rights Law, UU No. 39 (1999). Press Law, UU No.40 (1999). Broadcasting Law (UU Penyiaran).

    COCONET: Southeast Asia Digital Rights Camp

    by EM News September 18, 2017


    EngageMedia, the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), and the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) along with key regional allies, will be hosting COCONET, a Southeast Asia Digital Rights camp.

    COCONET, named after the coconut plant that is widely grown and used in the Southeast Asian region, also means Connecting Communities & Networks as it aims to enhance regional networking, and to build collaborations with organisations that can help expand and popularise digital rights issues. We hope to connect members of the digital rights community to media and technology-makers, as well as to grassroots digital activists, as a way to expand the social reach, and social movements, engaged with digital rights issues.

    EngageMedia, APC, and SEAPA have brought together a regional consortium to co-design and host the camp. This consortium includes SafeNet (Indonesia), Empower (Malaysia), Thai Netizen Network, Witness, Myanmar ICT Development Organization, and the Cambodia Center for Human Rights.

    The Camp

    EngageMedia has previously organised six similar camps: four in Indonesia, one in Malaysia and one in Myanmar. These camps focused on bringing together video-makers and technologists and resulted in both short-term and ongoing networks, as well as innumerable post-event collaborations. The camps range from three to seven days and are set in a remote location where participants quickly move out of their comfort zones, and develop trust and relationships with their co-campers. You can read about the most recent camp in Myanmar here.

    The camps are organised using a participatory methodology to generate ownership over the process, content and outcomes, and to encourage everyone to take responsibility for the event's success.

    Who can participate?

    Please note that this camp is specifically targeted to people from Southeast Asian countries (Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam), but we're also open to participants from other countries in the Asia-Pacific.

    We're looking for the following kinds of people to join us:

    • Internet Rights advocates
    • Activists (those who are working with grassroots communities' issues and are using online platforms)
    • Techies (who are aware of political issues of technology and are interested in embedding themselves in social movements)
    • Media Makers (creative content creators who advocate social change – journalists, bloggers, video-makers, photographers, theatre practioners, painters, etc.)

    Collaborators

    Funders

    Mozilla Sida

    TFDInternews logo

    COCONET: Call for Applications

    by EM News November 07, 2017

    Coconet Logo

    When: 22-26 October 2017
    Where: Bali or Yogyakarta, Indonesia
    Deadline: 10 August 2017

    EngageMedia, the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), and the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA), are pleased to announce a call for applications to COCONET: Southeast Asia Digital Rights Camp.

    COCONET (Connecting Communities & Networks) aims to enhance regional networking, popularise digital rights issues, and expand digital rights campaigns and movements by connecting policy advocates, researchers, digital campaigners, media-makers, and technologists.

    COCONET is a peer-based event where everyone will participate: bringing knowledge, experiences, and skills to share.

    A full description of the event can be read here.

    Who can participate?

    We're looking to gather 75-100 participants for the camp. Whilst Southeast Asia (Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam), is the key target, the event is also open to participants from other parts of Asia and the Pacific. Please note that scholarship support will prioritise applicants from Southeast Asia.

    The following are highly encouraged to apply:

    • Activists working with grassroots communities with strong experience in using digital platforms
    • Activist technologists, open source advocates and digital security trainers
    • Internet Rights policy advocates
    • Researchers and academics
    • Social change media-makers including film-makers, journalists, bloggers, photographers, designers, and artists.

    Applications are now closed.

    Featured Filmmaker: Jason Soo

    by EM News November 07, 2017
    We interview Jason Soo, a filmmaker from Singapore whose work highlights activists and activism over the course of its history.


    1. Tell us who you are as a filmmaker and how you began your career as one. What first attracted you to work with documentary film?

    I studied visual arts but cinema is my first love, so to speak. Then it also became clear to me that in Singapore, art remains a relatively elitist activity, while cinema is the mass medium of choice. I try not to make a distinction between fiction and documentary. A documentary film is a fictional construct. And there’s as much truth in fiction films as in documentaries. You could also say that truth is an effect of fabrication.

    2. Can you tell us about some of your more notable films?

    The film I’m currently working on has a 54-minute version that was awarded Best Southeast Asian Feature at Freedom Film Festival back in 2015. It’s based on the arrests of 22 people by Singapore’s Internal Security Department in 1987. The detainees were accused of being involved in a Marxist conspiracy, physically and psychologically tortured, and then coerced into making public confessions.

    3. Which would you say is your favorite, among the films you've made? What is the background to its story?

    It’s not exactly a favorite, as you’ll see why, but back in 2014, I was asked to make a short film to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the May 13th, 1954 student movement in Singapore. On May 13, about 1,000 middle school students had gathered at the foot of Fort Canning Hill. They were there to support a student delegation that was calling for a postponement of compulsory military conscription. The student delegation was scheduled to meet with the British governor at the Istana (Presidential Palace) nearby. Unfortunately, riot police was called in and around 30 students were injured.

    However, the short film dramatizes not the events of May 13, but the subsequent student occupation of Chinese High School a few weeks later in June. In these three extraordinary weeks, the students not only took over the school but organized themselves for communal living. To do this, they set up groups and committees to take charge of matters such as academic studies, recreation, art, food, laundry, sanitation, medicine, security, public relations, etc.

    The student occupation exemplifies to me the collective spirit of the May 13 generation. The events of May and June 1954 went on to serve as a catalyst for the anti-colonial struggle that ultimately set Singapore on its road to independence. That such an unprecedented historical episode has been falsified or whitewashed from our school textbooks is a travesty.

    I have to say though, that the short film was hastily made in the space of two months and, in my opinion, does not express adequately the complexities of that period. But it’s such an important event that I plan to turn it into a feature film in future.

    4. What have you learned through the process of making films?

    What I’ll like to say here is a quote from Sokurov’s Moscow Elegy: “It's cinema that makes use of you, not vice versa. I think one's got to learn how to serve film, not to be its victim. It makes use of you, not vice versa.”

    5. What are the challenges for you working in Singapore, especially with its current social-political situation?

    If I had to isolate a single concrete challenge or obstacle, I would say that it has to be the absence of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

    The FOIA is crucial not just for documentary filmmakers but for every citizen. Because without equal access to proper information, how are we equipped to make decisions that affect all aspects of our lives – from housing, food, health, business, arts, education, etc.?

    A FOIA is a fundamental pillar of any true democracy. With a proper FOIA, researchers would have much needed information for informed analysis, and citizens would be able to scrutinize how government policies are decided. Imagine being able to read the minutes, or watch a live telecast of policy meetings at government ministries. That is when we would have taken a real step towards transparency and accountability.

    6. How does online distribution help your work, and what are your thoughts on online and offline distribution?

    I’m still trying to figure out this aspect of being an independent filmmaker. My strategy now is this: I try to focus my energies on making the film. The other aspects, I try to do as little as possible but enough to get the ball over the line.

    7. Do you believe that films can change society?

    I would like to say “Yes, otherwise, what’s the point?”  But in a situation like Singapore, real change, which is change in terms of what’s inside people’s heads, that may not happen overnight, or even in 5-10 years. It may not even happen in my lifetime.

    On the other hand, there’s a real urgency that change is needed. Just to cite an example taken from the economy: as ex-GIC chief economist Yeoh Lam Keong has mentioned, up to 500,000 people live in poverty in Singapore [out of a population of about 5.5 million] and the weakness of labour laws perpetuate the exploitation of even more low wage migrant workers.

    8. What are you working on now and what do you have planned for the future?

    Besides the projects already mentioned, I’m developing a film based on contemporary activism in Singapore.

    Find out more about Jason's work at the 'Untracing the Conspiracy' project site.

    EngageMedia at the Internet Freedom Festival

    by Andrew November 17, 2017

    Internet Freedom Festival 2017

    From March 6-10, EngageMedia attended the Internet Freedom Festival in Valencia, Spain.

    As one of the few global, civil society focused events, the festival was a refreshing change from the often highly branded multi-stake holder conferences. Here, amongst allies, the conversation went much deeper across a range of topics from digital security, free software, free media, journalist safety, policy issues and more. It also provided the opportunity for long conversations with allies, partnership development, and the hatching of plans.

    EngageMedia was part of several discussions and presentations including ‘Exploring secure and anonymous video capture and distribution’, ‘Architectures of Internet freedom movements in Southeast Asia’, and ‘Research on security digital perspective of journalist in Indonesia and Philippines’. It was gratifying to see such large representation from Southeast Asia, with a host of organisations from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Myanmar and more.

    I led a session on secure video capture and distribution with the Guardian Project, Open Archive, Freedom of the Press Foundation and Small World News. The session explored the privacy and safety implications of commonly used video sharing sites, and the challenges of scaling open source alternatives. Sites such as YouTube have carved out a defacto monopoly on video distribution, one that is built on advertising and the collection of users’ data, or Surveillance Capitalism, in the words of Shoshana Zuboff. This creates insecure systems for those working in sensitive environments, and brings users into a web that doesn't respect their privacy. Using distribution platforms that are secure and anonymous to break important stories is increasingly difficult.

    There have been various attempts at creating more secure and anonymous systems, EngageMedia’s Plumi platform being one of them. In the larger game, however, we are massively out-gunned. The problem is difficult to solve given the large amount of resources required to build alternatives of that scale.

    The need and desire for such alternatives was clearly present in the session, and whilst the know-how is there, fundamentally the question is one of resources. Everyone involved will certainly be continuing their work to chip away, but we need to move beyond proof of concepts to much larger audiences to provide the secure and anonymous services journalists and activists need. This will require a lot creative organising, more collaboration and funders and others to come on board.

    The Internet Freedom Festival also saw us connect with our fellow Association for Progressive Communications (APC) members, always an enjoyable and productive experience. EngageMedia and APC are currently collaborating to produce CoCoNet, a Southeast Asia digital rights camp that is in many respects similar to the Internet Freedom Festival, however on a regional basis.

    We were also happy to connect with several members of the Video4Change Network at IFF, including the Organisation for Visual Progression, Small World News and SocialTIC.

    If you are thinking of attending the Internet Freedom Festival next year we’d very much recommend it!

    Featured Filmmaker: The Isaan Record

    by EM News November 07, 2017
    We speak with The Isaan Record, a media and video production organization in Northeastern Thailand about their hopes and challenges.


    Tell us about the people behind The Isaan Record. How did you start out?

    The Isaan Record is an online news magazine that tells the stories of Northeastern Thailand. Over the past six years, our small team of Thai and foreign journalists has published a wide range of news and feature stories, as well as number of short video documentaries.

    We are committed to delivering well-balanced stories with a focus mainly on human rights, democracy, development issues, and local politics in the Northeast of Thailand. We believe that a well-informed public is the foundation of a healthy democracy.

    Most of our stories are translated and published in both Thai and English. Recently, we have begun publishing articles in the local dialect, setting an unprecedented example in Thai media.

    Why did you choose to work with documentary films and what first attracted you to it?

    We have been producing short documentary films since the early days in 2011 when The Isaan Record was just starting off. Although our current team of in-house journalists focuses on written news and features stories, we regularly invite documentary filmmakers to contribute short pieces. We want to provide a platform for young video journalist to present their work to an online audience.

    In the past, the Northeast had a tradition of mobile cinemas and we recently started discussing the idea to bring documentary films about the Northeast to an audience in rural areas of the region.

    What is your favourite film among those you’ve worked on and what is the background to that story?

    Fields of Mine is one our favourites. It tells the story a rural community in the beautiful mountains of the Upper Northeast that is fighting against a gold mine project. On the one hand, Na Nong Bong Village is a fascinating example of community-based activism with a strong female involvement. On the other hand, the case represents many of the grievances faced by villages in the Northeast today including the exploitation of the region's natural resources by private companies and the state, the use of violence and legal mechanisms to suppress dissent, and the lack of public participation in development projects. The film is one of our very first documentary pieces, produced by Glenn Brown and Lizzie Presser, who founded The Isaan Record and managed it until 2012.

    Another film that has been popular with our audience is The Master Plan, a guest contribution by two American students, Paul Sullivan and Wilder Nicholson. The documentary addresses the long-standing issue of land rights in the Northeast and shows how the military government, that came to power in coup d’état in 2014, has been using deforestation policy as justification to evict forest communities across the region.

    What are the challenges for you working in Thailand or Northeast Thailand?

    Reporting from the Northeast of Thailand has been a very rewarding experience for our team. For our journalists it often seems easier to gain access to news sources here than in Bangkok. Organisations, government agencies and people are less used to media attention and usually people are forthcoming and easy to talk to.

    But we notice that things have been changing since 2014. The military regime not only suspended democracy and rolled back decentralisation that gave more autonomy to the provinces but it also put a lid on all forms of dissent. A climate of fear makes it more difficult to get peoples’ opinion on the record. We used to interview people on the streets on various political topics but these days everyone seems to be much more cautious when speaking out in public.


    What are you working on now and what’s your next project?

    We are running a three year project to build a journalism network in the region. The Isaan Journalism Network Project is a journalism program that trains northeastern Thais with the skills and capacity needed for rigorous, local citizen journalism.

    Thailand’s media landscape is skewed towards Bangkok and tends to represent the interests of the urban middle class. We want to encourage a shift in the Thai media’s focus from one that deals almost exclusively with Bangkok-centric news to one that more meaningfully incorporates the largest and most populous region in the country, the Northeast.

    We are also looking into ways to build partnerships with media outlets in other regions in the country, and hope that in the next few years we can be part of a network of progressive, non-Bangkok news organizations that as a whole would present a very different picture of Thailand.

    Access more content by The Isaan Record here.