by Simon Harman
Tuesday, 10 December marks Human Rights Day – the day the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the United Nations back in 1948. The UDHR is a visionary document that provided a ‘terms of service’ for our human rights.
I live in Australia, and I tend to take my own human rights and freedom for granted. I have never personally experienced a place or a time where these principles were not a given. But more recently, we have seen a crackdown on free speech with the raids on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the persistent erosion of privacy in legislation.
The UDHR is composed of 30 principles or articles that were formulated by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, that describe our rights and provides guide-rails to enable us all to live in dignity, freedom and peace on our shared planet.
The work that the Loki team and I do is grounded in the values articulated in the UDHR. Our work aims to strengthen Article 19 – especially in a digital world that is becoming increasingly surveilled and restricted by corporations and governments.
Article 19. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
We at Loki are building a network and messaging apps that are designed to facilitate communications with the maximum privacy, security and freedom possible. Our work is governed by a not-for-profit foundation and all our code is open source and auditable by third parties.
Communicating securely is critical for activists, human rights defenders and journalists in Australia and around the world. Information such as war crimes evidence, news about unfolding conflicts and protests, and revelations by whistle-blowers must be handled carefully and sent to their destination through the most secure means possible to ensure that the risks are minimised.
This means going beyond end-to-end encryption, to create an infrastructure that gives complete anonymity to the parties exchanging communications, and that no collectable metadata exists. The network is decentralised, and the security is trustless. The apps we are building will also have features that are important to activists and journalists, such as disappearing messages and the ability for nominated third parties to remotely delete the app if required.
We have the utmost respect and admiration for human rights activists and journalists working in some of the most dangerous places in the world, and we hope that our skills in technology and the secure tools we are building can help strengthen Article 19, and the work of activists and journalists in protecting and defending human rights everywhere.
Simon Harman is the Project Lead at Loki.