New Smartphone App Looks To Protect Russian Protestors

Human rights organizations, along with the help of a developer, have created an app aimed at helping people get out of jail more quickly, citing concerns about abuses from authorities and crackdowns on Anti-Kremlin protests in Russia. The involved parties include OVD-Info, the Open Russia Foundation, and developer Alexander Litreev. The application is called 'Red Button' and is available for free on Android, as well as on competing OSes, with a Windows version also said to be in development.

The application's premise is fairly straight-forward. One of the biggest problems facing detainees is that nobody is made aware that they've been locked up or where they are located. Which can lead to issues getting legal representation and support, and especially when the charges are politically-related and/or human rights may be a concern. So the application is designed to act as an automatic transmission agent. The main feature of Red Button won't be fully active until April 29, but once it goes live, it will send out notifications and alerts when a demonstrator is arrested. That will include not only that the person has been taken into custody but also where that arrest happened, emergency contacts for the person arrested, and to which police station he or she has likely been sent, based on the information. While that information won't stop a protester from being arrested or set them free by itself, it will allow a community of people to provide help in the form of legal counsel and support. At very least, it will allow family and friends of the detained to access information about the arrest. In addition to alerts and notifications being sent out, the Red Button app will also be linked to a specific Twitter page so that the protests themselves can be monitored in real time via maps and notifications.

In recent times, Russia has experienced many protests and more are expected to follow. For obvious reasons - considering the underlying purpose of the application - Red Button won't be available to anybody outside of the country. It is also unknown whether any kind of security measures are or will be placed in the application to prevent its core purpose from being circumvented. However, as the app is currently presented, it should alleviate at least some concerns for people who want to take part in protests but who are afraid that the consequences may outweigh the benefits.

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