On pressing a button, an immediate SMS distress signal will be sent to the activists’ own networks

Amnesty International has launched a new open source app called ‘Panic Button’ to help activists facing imminent danger. The press of a button sends an immediate SMS distress signal to activists’ own networks.

“The aim of the Panic Button is to increase protection for activists around the world who face the ever present threat of arrest, attack, kidnap and torture,” said Tanya O’Carroll, technology and human rights officer for Amnesty International.

The app can help activists, tech experts and volunteers from around the world transform a user’s smartphone into a secret alarm that can be activated rapidly in the event of an emergency, alerting fellow activists to the danger their colleagues face so that they can get help faster.

The alarm is triggered by rapidly pressing the phone’s power button, after which an SMS message is sent to three pre-entered contacts chosen by the user, alerting them of the distress situation.

Panic Button has been made available for global download in four languages (English, French, Spanish and Arabic) after three months of private beta testing, with hundreds of users from Amnesty International’s networks in more than 17 countries.

The mobile app for Android was developed by Amnesty International in collaboration with London-based Information Innovation Lab. It is now available for public download on Google Playstore.

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