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[liberationtech] Launching Panic Button in Public Beta

Yishay Mor yishaym at
Tue Jun 24 11:46:14 PDT 2014

well, this is one app I'd like my daughter to install, and not because I
think she's in threat of being arrested.

On Monday, 23 June 2014, Jun Matsushita <jun at> wrote:

> Dear LibTech,
> I'm glad to announce that today we're releasing Panic Button
> <> in public beta on the Play Store
> <>. Panic
> Buttin is an open source <> Android
> app which allows individuals at risk of being arrested to discretely send
> SMS alerts with their location to their trusted contacts. It's been a long
> road and many have helped bring the app to where it is now. The project was
> born with an Amnesty International <> Open Ideo
> challenge <>. Thoughtworks
> <> put together the software building blocks
> and hackathons were organised around the world including with the
> developers of Hancel <> in Mexico city. iilab
> <> then took the relay baton to bring the app to launch.
> A lot of the work that has happened in the past 6 months together with
> Amnesty International, Frontline Defenders, the engine room and iilab has
> revolved around ensuring that the application's user experience reinforced
> the security goals. We conducted frequent user testing during development,
> rolled out pilot trainings during our private beta and continued to work on
> the software based on this feedback. It's still in Beta and there's a lot
> more to do, but we feel it's ready for a larger number of users to test it,
> and for the lib tech community to take a good look at it and ask
> the difficult questions.
> The installation Wizard in the app is meant to not just help with
> understanding the functionality but also to reaffirm the security aspects
> related to using the app, most importantly the preparation that needs to be
> done offline with a network of trusted contacts that is able to act in case
> of an alert. We've put online materials that reinforce this point
> <> and
> tried to also present this content in an easy to digest form (with
> cartoons <> and a simple question answer widget
> <> and a checklist in the app itself). We can't
> completely prevent users from endangering themselves of course, but we're
> trying to make sure that they are as informed as possible. It is also
> obvious that making security trade-offs are part and parcel of human
> defenders' daily decision-making in the face of many types of threats.
> We've also drafted a document
> <> which
> presents the security goals of the app for a slightly more technical
> audience and as a basis for a threat model document which would guide
> further development. The main trade off from a security standpoint is that
> the ability of the app to alert a user's trusted contacts rapidly is more
> relevant/important than the privacy of the user or their contacts. The
> disguise and discreet activation methods are only there to delay discovery,
> to allow a network to act and to mitigate harm. With no network ready to
> act, or no possibility to influence the outcomes, then using SMS alerts
> could reveal a user's contact and do more harm than good. Hopefully, this
> will be clear to the user with our efforts put towards educational
> communication. Hopefully, individuals and organisations who adopt or
> promote the application, will also relay this message clearly.
> Working with organisations like Amnesty International can help enable rich
> feedback loops which are invaluable when they can be integrated in the
> software development cycle. As there are more android apps targeting
> individuals and risk, such as the amazing work of Whisper System
> <> and Guardian Project
> <> or more recently Security First
> <>, there'll be also more opportunities to create
> more reusable building blocks (both functional and educational) to help
> others build great apps, with different type of users in mind, and
> facilitating the reuse of security functionalities and content. I hope
> there'll be more chances to hang out more with Nathan and Moxie and other
> developers of mobile apps. It's always good to be around great human
> beings.
> Cheers,
> Jun
> --
> Jun Matsushita
> Founder, CEO
> mobile: +44 7429 144 691
> skype: junjulien
> @iilab <>
> information innovation lab

learning; design; technology; research
  +44 7891 456690 (mobile)
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