Event Recap / February 2020

Video: Indigenous-led Security and Digital Safety


On February 11, 2020, the Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity hosted a panel discussion featuring Daniel Kobei of the Ogiek Peoples’ Development Programme (OPDP), a Kenya-based non-governmental organization working to support the rights of the indigenous Ogiek community; Jemimah Kerenge, Director of Enkishon Indigenous Initiative, which helps Maasai communities in Kenya to acquire social and economic equality; and Casey Box, Director of Land is Life, a global support organization for indigenous communities around the world.

CLTC’s Citizen Clinic has provided digital security assistance to Land is Life (and its network of organizations) since 2017. “It’s been hugely educational for us as we have built the [Citizen Clinic] program to learn from Land is Life and the communities with which they work about the evolving security contexts all over the world for indigenous activism,” said Sean Brooks, Director of UC Berkeley’s Citizen Clinic, who moderated the panel.

The discussion focused on the physical and digital security challenges that indigenous communities face, as well as possible solutions. Kobei noted that there are roughly 370 million indigenous people around the world, many of which are targeted by governments and companies that want to gain access to their land and resources.

“In all these areas, the indigenous peoples are marginalized and they are facing a lot of threats, and a lot of the threats are related to their land and territories,” he said. “You find indigenous people are being killed everywhere because of their land. But unfortunately many times they don’t get supported.”

Kerenge talked about a security fund that she has helped establish that aims to help organizations adopt solutions to address their security challenges. “Indigenous communities in Africa are facing lot of threats because they’re trying to secure their territories,” Kerenge said. “The reason we came up with this initiative was to support these indigenous people to mitigate this problems and to provide small grants to support them with their physical  and digital security.”

Cybersecurity is a major challenge for indigenous communities in part because often they lack technical expertise, Box explained. “It’s very difficult when we work with communities in the Amazon, where some of their people were born before they even knew of the outside world and now they are faced with all this technology,” he said. “There’s a sense of urgency to increase the capacity around digital security for indigenous peoples.”

Support from Citizen Clinic and other organizations is essential for providing training in the basics of digital security, the panelists said. “The increasing threats on indigenous peoples are growing exponentially and the digital security component is definitely there,” Box said. “All too often organizations receive these grants to address digital security concerns and they don’t know what to do with them. The partnership with Citizen Clinic has allowed us to identify gaps in our organization and our network and develop practical solutions that we could then roll out within our team and to the rest of the network globally.”

Watch the video of the presentation above or on YouTube.