When I started working as a journalist in Colombia in 2006, "What do I do if I get kidnapped?" was a common topic at parties. In fact in 2007, my brother (not a journalist) got kidnapped in a small town outside of Medellín. The Colombian anti-kidnapping squad (GAULA) rescued him.So let's just say I take an interest in journalist security tools. New apps have the potential to help journalists do their jobs, and stay safe while doing so.Unfortunately, Reporta, a new app from the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) billed as "the only comprehensive security app available worldwide created specifically for journalists," sounds like it may put journalists in danger.Reporta offers journalists working in dangerous environments a way to check in with editors and other trusted associates. It also includes a "panic button" feature if you are in immediate danger.The security experts we spoke to were vocal in their criticism of Reporta. The problems start with the fact that the app is closed source, meaning the code isn't public for review. Counterintuitively, it's considered more secure to publish your code so that outside developers can help audit it.
"I think this is yet another app claiming security without doing due diligence."
Reporta is designed to be a layer of protection and should be used in conjunction with a reporter's pre-established security protocols.
In creating the app, we consulted with a wide range of stakeholders, including many journalists, and will continue to do so as the app evolves. We also conducted several audits with independent digital security experts and incorporated their guidance into the application.
We are committed to offering a highly useful tool to journalists and maintaining our mission of strengthening the role of journalists worldwide.
Thank you for your feedback, we will take it into account as we continue to work on advancing awareness for the deteriorating security conditions too many journalists face.