Tresorit, a Hungarian encrypted cloud storage company, is the latest firm to launch free end-to-end encryption services for nonprofits and activists to secure their communications and data.
Human rights activists, non-profits, and charities need to be wary of surveillance from opposition groups, governments, and law enforcement especially when operating within corrupt or oppressive regimes. Nonprofits may have personnel dotted around the world that need to share sensitive documents quickly but that must also remain free from prying eyes.
Tresorit said it currently has more than 100 nonprofit groups using its solutions to protect their data and their workers.
One such organization is the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), a Nobel Peace Prize-winning women’s rights NGO based in Geneva that works regularly in regions devastated by war and conflict, including Central Africa, the Middle East, and Ukraine. Founded in 1915, WILPF has witnessed huge changes in the world and faces significant technological challenges when it comes to keeping the people it helps, and its workers, safe.
“Because we work together with activists in conflict zones, we need online services that guarantee our security,” explained WILPF’s Line Favre. “Our peace activists face threats and can be in danger if their names or their data falls into the wrong hands.”
The Jiyan Foundation is a non-profit that provides mental health services to victims of genocide and torture, helping victims recover from traumatic experiences. Its doctors, psychologists, and staff handle extremely sensitive data on their patients that, in the wrong hands, could reveal not only their conditions but also their names, potentially leading to persecution. The data can “literally mean the difference between life and death.”
Jiyan’s staff was originally using Dropbox, said Jiyan’s Leif Hinrichsen, but the Snowden revelations changed everything, showing how vulnerable data is to snooping, and so the organization needed to find a new service.
Other organizations now working with Tresorit to guard their data include the Nest Foundation, which protects children from sexual exploitation and trafficking, and Maisha Consulting, a wildlife preservation consultancy for NGOs.
In the case of Maisha, the organization deals with partners that collect and share intelligence on illegal poaching and exploitation of natural resources. It also provides hardware such as sensors for deployment in protected regions to detect illegal activity. This sort of data is valuable to protecting endangered animals.
Tresorit’s initiative is largely aimed at smaller organizations with 10 users or less and offers 1,000 GB worth of encrypted storage per user, provided the organization meets the criteria of carrying out a charitable mission. Tresorit builds end-to-end encryption products, which are zero-knowledge, meaning it cannot view the contents of its users’ data. The company added that it provides services to non-profits with more than 10 users by arranging discounts with the activists.
“It is inspiring to see the commitment of our nonprofit users in creating change and working for social good,” said Istvan Lam, CEO of Tresorit. “As we’ve learned from them, digital security and privacy are essential for their activities.”