Now more than ever we're seeing the danger journalists and activists alike face covering protests and conflicts. When they depend on digital tools, and in particular mobile communications, they face a new set of threats that require new strategies to stay safe. Yet no amount of risk will stop the bravest witnesses from documenting what goes on beyond the reach of international media. Using the tools they have on hand, they are often vulnerable to surveillance, censorship, prison-- or worse. StoryMaker is intended to enable its users to tell their stories safely. We do this by ensuring StoryMaker is a tool that is "private by design."

StoryMaker not only helps you tell great multimedia stories with your mobile phone, but to do it safely and securely. If StoryMaker or YouTube are blocked in your country, integration with the Orbot app allows for the sites to be accessed via Tor, the anonymizing network. StoryMaker relies upon Orbot, as Nathan Freitas at the Guardian Project, who leads development of privacy and security features in StoryMaker, explains, "for defending against network surveillance and enabling circumvention on hostile networks."

If the network operator is looking for people accessing StoryMaker or YouTube, in particular uploading media, Orbot defends against that type of fingerprinting analysis. If a government forces StoryMaker or YouTube to turn over the IP addresses of a user, in order to tie an account to a specific location or subscriber, Orbot and Tor makes that IP meaningless. For more on the technical specifications of this feature, check out the StoryMaker development wiki:

The upshot is that users in countries where YouTube is blocked (such as China, Iran, Pakistan, and Turkmenistan) will be able to publish their videos using StoryMaker.

If you live in a country where simply being found with manuals related to digital security or human rights, or attending a training course abroad, could get you arrested, StoryMaker is for you. StoryMaker receives lesson content via a certified SSL connection to our server, and this content can also be sent via Tor, making it anonymous.

StoryMaker can also be used as a tool for distance mentoring and training via mobile, enabling activists to learn digital security and storytelling skills from the safety of their homes. We are refining a model for this kind of learning at a distance with each new project.

Follow our progress on this blog and on Facebook and Twitter, as we work to expand the reach of storytelling tools where they are needed most.