Hackathon in support of LGBT rights provides solutions to the problem of hate-crime data collection

Hidden as a contact within the social messaging service Snapchat, the winning concept allows users to upload images and videos, directly connecting with lawyers and activists. 

London, December 12, 2016 – LexisNexis announced the winning design of the “Hack the Change” Hackathon challenge. More than 40 coders, developers and designers were brought together over 48 hours, tasked with prototyping solutions to connect lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT+) people with those documenting and fighting discrimination.

The winning concept, the brainchild of the team “Suitcase Hackers”, was the creation of a tool within the application “Snapchat”. Witnesses and victims of hate crime will be able to upload evidence as images, videos and documentation securely through the application. This information will be safely stored in the cloud to allow the evidence to be verified by lawyers and NGOs. To protect user anonymity and safety, the tool will appear as any other contact within the app, making it difficult for anyone searching through the user’s phone to detect.

The event was hosted by LexisNexis and The Human Dignity Trust, and supported by Amazon Web Services, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Hogan Lovells and Osborne Clarke. The design will now be brought to life by the Human Dignity Trust. 

Approximately 4bn people live outside the protection of the rule of law, with both direct discrimination, and poor enforcement of laws and abuses by the state contributing to this figure. This Hackathon for LGBT rights is the first in a series of game-changing Hack the Change events, coordinated by LexisNexis, to help radically change these odds. 

LexisNexis Hack the Change lead, Amy Carton, said: “We passionately support combating hate crime by progressing the rule of law globally. Right now, people around the world are routinely attacked, threatened or intimidated simply because of who they are. This results in the oppression of entire communities. 75 countries currently criminalize the lives of LGBT people, representing approximately 40% of the worlds population. This will not be solved overnight – but timely reporting and documenting of these crimes is a vital first step. It was exciting and inspiring to see so many technologists, designers, developers and legal expert come together to make a positive difference in the world. We look forward to seeing the winning design actively impact lives for the better.”

Téa Braun, Legal Director of the Human Dignity Trust said: “We are very inspired by the amazing creativity and dedication on display at the ‘Hack the Change’ Hackathon. Technology can help immensely in finding new ways to document human rights violations faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Timely documentation of human rights violation is a major factor in fighting such violations, but there is a critical gap to be filled especially from areas that are insecure and inaccessible. 

Braun continued: “There is need for a tool that allows LGBT people, NGOs and allies to document and tell stories that might otherwise not have been told. We are excited at the prospect of a tool being developed to help fill this gap and to get relevant information to the attention of those who can help. Our sincere thanks go to all the creative minds that have helped to bring vision to what is possible.”

The designs from the four other Hackathon teams included a reporting website disguised as a recipe website, and a portal connecting victims of crime directly to international legal teams.

John Davidson-Kelly, Commercial Partner at Osborne Clarke, said: “This was a great event for us to be part of given Osborne Clarke’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and the fact that it brought together law and technology. It was really interesting to be part of the process, from setting the challenge and then watching how the coders used their creativity and technical ability to developed their solutions and build their products in no time at all, with very little sleep.”

Isabel Parker, Director of Legal Services Innovation at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer said: “We are proud to have been part of the Hackathon, and of our Freshfields team of coders and lawyers for its contribution to fighting discrimination against members of the LGBT+ community, that sadly still subsists in many countries. The levels of creativity and energy at the event were truly inspiring and demonstrate that real change can be achieved through combining smart legal minds and technology solutions.”

Clare Dundon, Innovation & New Ventures Manager at Hogan Lovells, said: "The decision to get involved with 'Hack the Change' was an easy one - it combined our commitment to diversity and inclusion with our passion for innovation and the rule of law. The collaboration between technologists, strategists and lawyers can unlock new possibilities and we were proud to help support 'Hack the Change', the Human Dignity Trust and the teams throughout the weekend."

To discuss the event with our media team or request photographs and a video of this event please contact Sarah Plaka on mediaenquiries@lexisnexis.co.uk

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