Jul. 29, 2016 |

Join HRF to Hack for Human Rights at Def Con August 4-7

Region: North America

LAS VEGAS (July 29, 2016)—Human Rights Foundation (HRF) and Wickr Foundation are participating in the DEF CON conference from August 4-7 to recruit technical problem solvers to the human rights movement and discover innovative solutions for advancing and protecting personal freedom.

Join HRF to Hack for Human Rights at Def Con August 4-7

DEF CON is one of the largest and oldest hacker conventions, held every summer in Las Vegas, Nevada. Attendees participate in events about software, computer architecture, hardware modification, and anything that can be “cracked.” The four-day conference includes a variety of events such as robotics contests, scavenger hunts, hacking competitions, and tech workshops. More than 20,000 people are estimated to attend this year’s event.

“The tech-savvy among us have a vital role to play in the defense of human rights,” said HRF president Thor Halvorssen. “Their knowledge and tools can assist individuals, journalists, and civil society organizations pushing back against repressive regimes across the globe.”

HRF will share an exhibit with Wickr Foundation in DEF CON's expo space, focusing on two major campaigns: HRF’s Flash Drives for Freedom project, and Wickr Foundation’s Whistler project. Through Flash Drives for Freedom, HRF is collecting USB sticks from around the world, loading them with outside information, and sending them into North Korea, where they act as windows to the world. Most recently, HRF has partnered with the North Korean defector organization No Chain to deliver some of these flash drives into North Korea by helicopter drone.

Wickr Foundation has collaborated with CANVAS — the non-violence institute and training center co-founded by Serbian activist Srdja Popovic—to create a mobile app geared towards activists, whistle-blowers, and journalists working in repressive societies. The app will enable them to communicate securely, report human rights abuses, alert friends, families, and lawyers, and erase sensitive data from their devices.

"The DEF CON community is uniquely known for its hacker mindset and hunger for innovation, which they apply to absolutely everything — from cars to smart homes to industrial control systems. So why not apply that power to liberate human rights, particularly among people living under dictatorships?” said Wickr Foundation’s Nico Sell. “By partnering with the great team at CANVAS, we’ve come up with a tool to help persecuted activists to safely connect and build movements. That’s just one idea, one collaboration project. Imagine the hundreds waiting for us at DEF CON next week.”

HRF’s exhibit follows an appearance at SXSW in Austin in March 2016, and will be followed by appearances at PubCon in Las Vegas from October 14-17 and WIRED in London from November 3-4. Through initiatives like the world’s first hackathon for North Korea, and the Tech Lab at the Oslo Freedom Forum, HRF is helping to push the boundaries of what technologists can do in the human rights field. For more details about HRF's work, click here.

Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.

HRF contact: Andrea Austin, andrea@hrf.org, (212) 246.8486.

Wickr Foundation contact: Rita Zolotova, rita@wickr.org.