_NO MATTER HOW DIGITALLY SECURE YOU AND YOUR TEAM ARE, you will have to make changes to your day-to-day communications protocol to accommodate for new threats you’ll face while traveling. For example, if you’re traveling to shoot interviews with at-risk individuals, you’ll want to communicate using aliases and codes that you all agree upon beforehand. Do not use your true name to communicate with people at risk while working on the film. The stakes are usually highest for people in front of the camera.
As you prepare for travel, run a risk assessment.
Determine which tools you’ll use for secure communication, and make sure they’re accessible on the devices you’ll bring abroad.
Sensitivity: A collective agreement on what topics constitute a sensitive conversation
Team tools: Approved tools for sensitive team conversations on mobile and desktop (e.g., strategizing with your producer and editor)
External contacts tools: Approved tools for sensitive external conversations on mobile and desktop (e.g., discussions with funders, collaborators, and sources)
A fallback plan: A fallback plan for when things go wrong (e.g., agreement on how the team can get back in touch over a reliable mode of communication)
Take travel-specific factors into account to round out your communications plan for travel.
Aliases: Create aliases for all the people/activists you are concerned about in the event the contents of your phone or computer are searched.
Code systems: Set up a simple code system that you can communicate in plain text, in case you need to speak over an unsecured channel. If a bad actor gets access to your communications, they might know you are talking about something of interest, but won’t know what.
Check-in protocol: Establish a regular contact system with someone who is not in the field and set up protocols for what to do if the film crew loses contact.