EngageMedia Presents Results and Opens up the Dialogue on Digital Security

by EM News November 02, 2017

Dozens of people from Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) gathered in Jakarta on 24th-25th September 2017 to discuss about journalism and security. In recent years, concern for journalist’s safety, especially in the digital sphere, has become an urgent need. Journalists with many different backgrounds in Indonesia felt the internet poses new threats to them, especially through intensified surveillance and the usage of internet for negative purposes. They are complaining that formal laws do not defend them online. The organizer from the headquarters of AJI Indonesia, had invited over twenty branches of AJI, from cities in Sumatera, Sulawesi, Kalimantan, Maluku and Java to come together in Jakarta in order to formulate and share some of problems they are facing.

During this event EngageMedia presented research findings regarding the (online) safety and digital security of journalists in Indonesia. We focused on Jakarta, but also shared some more general research results from the Indonesia based research and the research from Philippines. Executive Director of AJI Indonesia, Suwarjono and General Secretary Arfi Bambani Amri were among those participating.

In our presentation we included a first draft of the short video we are developing for this research.

Some questions that come up from the journalists:

  • What kind of threats are out there, are we talking only digital threats?
  • How to protect sources, how to safely communicate with them?
  • What kind of chat apps for smartphone are safe for you and your colleagues?
  • How to secure data? Is google drive safe enough to store sensitive materials?
  • How much law or State protection for journalists is there regarding digital threats?
  • How can Media companies help journalists to protect themselves? What kind of capacity building do they need?

Results of our discussion and answers to some of the above questions:

  • We tried to explain that we may need to build a stronger security culture. We should not  depend on certain types technology and apps only, but also consider non tech aspect of digital security.
  • An approach to digital threat need to be more holistic. We know from experiences that tackling just a few aspects of a (digital) threat is not enough. Things are much more intertwined than we think at first.
  • Journalist need to do more research themselves. There are already many resources online, even in Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia).
  • There are many individual experiences and best practices on how journalist can protect themselves. These need to be shared.
  • Don’t share sensitive materials that can be dangerous to yourself and others on the internet.
  • Journalist should be more careful using social media. They need to know precisely what type of information can be shared through social media.
  • Journalists associations and organization can pioneer workshops around security in general and journalist’s digital security more particularly.


One thing for sure was journalists need more assistance and skill to defence their self and privacy. This can be overcome if they get more help from internal and external actors. On this occasion, some AJI journalists already ask for more techical detail assistance and this something that we also suggested that every journalist institution or even media company need to hold and build their own security procedure and standards.