July 7, 2016

Thanks to our friends over at Yahoo! for a great blog post outlining their amazing support of our work!

Security and Product Design with Human Rights in Mind

By Katie Shay, Legal Counsel, Business & Human Rights

Cross-posted from Business & Human Rights,

Twelve security trainers, tool developers and human rights activists from four continents came to our headquarters in Sunnyvale, California. Their mission? To share their unique perspectives with our Yahoo products, engineering, security, public policy and legal teams. Yahoo’s Business & Human Rights Program, the Paranoids and Yahoo for Good orchestrated this ‘hack of the minds’ in partnership with Internews and the USABLE Project.

USABLE Project’s aim is to inform the development of security tools that are easy to use and simple to understand for users from diverse backgrounds and skill levels. Their goal is to support vulnerable populations around the world who use the internet for more than just sharing pictures of cats or Venmoing a friend for lunch. In many cases, these users rely on the internet to exercise their right to free expression, expose corruption or fight against injustice in their communities. For these users, the ability to be secure online is critical.

In July, Yahoo was proud to sponsor the USABLE Project’s first ever public forum, UX in a High Risk World in San Francisco, bringing together frontline digital security practitioners, users, tool developers and UX experts from around the world. In addition, Yahoo participated in the final day of USABLE’s four-day closed-door workshop leading up to this event, working directly with this community to build concrete, actionable roadmaps to improve usability in security tools.

Following the forum, the delegation from USABLE that visited Yahoo shared their on-the-ground perspective on why remaining secure online is so important to their work. They explained how they use Yahoo products, including Flickr and Mail, why it’s important to have a principled approach to responding to government requests for user data and content moderation, as well as the importance of baking in security features to products from the outset by turning them on by default. These visionary leaders are working toward solutions for activists facing censorship, hacking, surveillance and suppression in some of the world’s most challenging environments.

During the delegation’s visit, our Yahoo teams asked pointed questions to understand the experience of some of our most vulnerable users and to explore how their experiences might inform Yahoo’s product development and online security work.

We are grateful to the USABLE team for sharing their stories with us, and for inspiring our teams to continue to find new and innovative ways to put our users first!