The Open Integrity Index Helps You Make Smart Choices about Online Privacy Tools and Services

Those online sometimes encounter restrictions to their freedom of expression and access to information. This is often the case for activists and journalists working in illiberal societies. While software developers have created a variety of circumvention, anonymity, and privacy tools and services, the privacy and security risks associated with specific tools are often unclear. One rarely has the opportunity to solicit expert advice on such risks, and decisions are often limited by a person’s technical background and the absence of consolidated, easily digestible information. In addition, educators can find it difficult to keep up with ever changing options and keep their students well informed.

The Open Integrity Index Working Group, a coalition of activists and developers working on freedom of expression and online privacy issues, has created a solution to help one make better decisions about their use of online security tools regardless of their level of technical expertise. The Working Group, which includes representatives of the Guardian Project, Internews, OpenITP, Tactical Technology Collective, and The Tor Project, created the Open Integrity Index, a website that one can visit to look up information about a given tool. The Open Integrity Index ranks tools and its developers on how well it protects users and their data based on adherence to best practices in transparency, security, and privacy. Each tool’s rating is calculated through a combination of developer self-assessments, a documented peer review process, and feedback from the broader user community. The Open Integrity Index also recommends alternative tools with higher scores, helping users weigh available options.

With the support of a grant from the ISC Project, iilab, a London-based social enterprise that provides strategic technology advice, information architecture, and software engineering services to organizations working in the media and technology freedom space, completed the first phase of development for the Open Integrity Index. iilab designed and developed the Open Integrity Index website, translated it into Arabic, and established a platform which can be used to search for tools, review scores, and submit reviews. The index methodology and instructions for developers on how to submit their tools for review are available on the website. iilab is also seeking qualified reviewers to help expand its database of reviewed tools.

Access the Open Integrity Index at https://openintegrity.org/en and contact the team at contact@openintegrity.org to contribute and learn more about the project.