Tip Sheet on maintaining confidential digital dialogue during humanitarian emergencies

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Confidentiality in communications with affected populations, other humanitarian partners, parties to a conflict and other interlocutors is essential to carry out humanitarian operations. Breaches of the confidentiality, integrity and authenticity of these communications could raise harmful consequences for affected populations, give an advantage to opposing parties to an armed conflict or adversaries in other situations of violence, pose a very real threat to the safety of humanitarian workers and the continued provision of humanitarian services. Any of these could also threaten the perception of neutrality and impartiality of humanitarian actors. As digital communications, such instant messaging, videoconferencing, email, become more common in humanitarian work, confidentiality and the secure transfer of information and data via digital means is of fundamental importance. ICRC, together with International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Centre for Humanitarian Data at UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), has produced this tip sheet to point out the threats with practical recommendations during the challenging times due to Covid-19 health crisis which requires the adoption of the digital communications. This tip sheet offers: - An overview of the threats to confidentiality associated with digital communications in higher risk humanitarian contexts, including physical and covert surveillance, metadata, interception and hacking - Recommendations to mitigate those threats, including communication protocols, countermeasures, digital security, choice of application and digital hygiene - A set of resources that can be used to help identify suitable communications tools.

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