The right to connect safely online is a human right. Part 1

“The Internet is a dangerous connection for women and girls. Online and offline life is more interconnected than billions of people realize. That’s the problem. For safety’s sake, awareness is needed across the spectrum that anybody including criminals in prison are on the internet and have unrestricted access to each and every other person who is not careful enough. In the majority of trafficking cases wherein women and girls go missing, the recruitment and channeling is done via the Internet,” explains Dale Carter, security director of The RINJ Foundation, a global women’s rights and safety NGO.

The Internet is nothing more than a series of computing devices connected together. Say that aloud and think about the kind of people you would not want to be associated with or connected with in any way.

In this article FPMag will offer some safety tips, and tools to help out, but this is the tip of the iceberg. Common sense and an alternative way to connect to emergency services, like the nearest landline telephone or trusted friend is good knowledge to keep top-of-mind.

“The RINJ Foundation Messenger and Helpline is available 24/7 for any questions readers need a quick answer for,” offered Ms. Carter. So also is

The right to connect safely online

All women and girls have the right to connect safely without fear of doxxing, harassment, gender-based violence, cyber stalking, and rape. Photo credit, Micheal John / FPMag Art/Cropping/Enhancement: Rosa Yamamoto / Feminine-Perspective-Magazine.

‘Computing devices’ are smartphones, tablets, desktop computers, workstations, servers, laptops, smart watches, some televisions, cameras, and anything else that is connected to the Internet.

Devices that have cameras, microphones, and GPS clients must have those peripherals turned off and their security settings reviewed and elevated carefully. It’s not so difficult for even a novice hacker to remotely turn on the camera and the microphone of computing devices once a perpetrator decides to target the owner.

Cyber stalking can be a prelude to robbery, rape, kidnapping, and even violent death.

“The RINJ Foundation convened a conference on intelligent heuristic biostatistical data storage, retrieval and report generation. That’s fairly heavy-duty stuff, but with so many experts in the room, we had to ask this question, about women’s online safety. It was well received,” explains Dale Carter

A group of technology experts recently met in Singapore at the laboratory where the Civil Society Partners Against COVID-19 did their biostatistical tracking of the disease from the start of 2020 until now.

Equipment suppliers and software developers convened on several social and medical projects and were asked to additionally study the question of Internet security for women and girls.

“The group decided that reliably safe connectivity is a human right. That was unanimous. Connected computers are now used in place of the old stagecoach, the telephone, and the mailman. But Internet connectivity is a public service that has become dangerous for mothers and their families because the service is too often run by criminals, and some of them are part of governments in some areas of the world,” said Dr. Fred Harris about the conference’s conclusions.

“A core statement is emerging as a general consensus within civil society on the human right to connect, safely and reliably,” said Dr. Harris who chaired the conference.

“Also we have partners who volunteered testing and evaluation tools to assist in the development of safe practices for women and their families in their use of connected computing devices.

“Safe Internet access on reliable devices is crucial to the work of students and professionals as well as the safety of citizens everywhere on Earth. The right to Internet access, also known as the right to broadband or freedom to connect, is the view that all people must be able to access the Internet in order to exercise and enjoy their rights to freedom of expression and opinion and other fundamental human rights.

“Nation states have a responsibility to ensure that Internet access is broadly available. States may not unreasonably restrict an individual’s access, or access by large groups of people, to the Internet,” Dr. Harris explained about the consensus statement.

Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) while online is a must.

The technical side of the topology and technology are the critical aspects of VPNs. The tunneling protocol used to tunnel the traffic such as UDP vs TCP is very important; the tunnel’s termination point location (on the customer edge or network-provider edge) is also important; the type of topology of the connections such as site-to-site or network-to-network; the levels of security provided by the VPN; the OSI layer the VPN presents to the connecting network such as Layer 2 circuits or Layer 3 network connectivity; and the number of simultaneous connections the VPN maintains—too many and they all fizzle down to a crawl and fail.

A VPN subscription for women and children is a must. Google, an advertising company, will not tell you that and until now will block you on your VPN with a battery of captchas for endless periods of time. YouTube and other things Google controls are blocked to VPN users.

Why? VPNs break illegitimate data mining for user information which can be sold for a lot of money. A VPN will block trackers from learning what you like, what you buy, how old you are and a ton of personal information. A virtual private network is a mechanism for creating a secure connection between a computing device and a computer network, or between two networks, using an insecure communication medium such as the public Internet. The VPN connections are encrypted and done through a network that does not reveal your Internet protocol (IP) address and therefore, where you live—literally where you live.

You can test your VPN in many ways, here. It’s a free, open source, civil society service.

Turn off your “location, microphone and camera” on your computing device, whatever type it may be. Use only end-to-end encrypted messaging.

The connection between online life and offline life is running close to 100%. Remember that computing devices connected together are what comprises the ‘Internet’. That means you are in bed on your computing device while at the same time many men who have just beaten their wife or partner and killed others are now in their bunk and have access to you via your computing device and theirs because they are directly or indirectly connected. That’s the Internet. Keep your “location, camera and microphone” turned OFF.

Use a good device password based on randomness, not the kids’ birthdays.

A good random password is based on the entropy that comprises the universe, like, “tg#i-weriG78jgh”.

Don’t click links embedded in offers too good to be true.

Links that will destroy your life are sent by SMS, messaging applications, social media, you name it. Don’t click links. Period.

The right to connect safely online.
The right to connect safely is a human right. Any and all Gender Based Violence online and offline should be reported to police. Women’s rights are human rights. NASA image. Art/Cropping/Enhancement: Rosa Yamamoto / Feminine-Perspective-Magazine

According to Amnesty International, which has proffered a similar statement of support for the human right of connectivity, “Ultimately, all forms of online violence and abuse have a chilling effect on women, violating their right to freedom of expression. Not only do women tend to censor themselves out of fear of online reprisal but they may leave social media platforms altogether. Whichever way you look at it, women are being silenced. Yet, like everyone else, women have the right to express themselves freely and without fear.”

In Part 2:

“Digital security is the protection of an individual’s identity online. Gender based digital security is the focus on those community members who are most vulnerable to grave danger online thus training women and girls to protect themselves,” says Dale Carter.