Galina: Could you please tell us a little bit about the Safe House project and how Vaporstream plays a role in your mission?
Brittany: Safe House project really began in response to the hundreds of thousands of Americans who are trafficked every year here in the United States. Our vision is to see communities across America unite to end domestic sex trafficking and restore hope and freedom and a future to every survivor while building a better future through preventing the spread of child sex trafficking. So we have been greatly appreciative of our partnership with Vaporstream because a huge part of what helps us be successful is having secure communication. We need to have the ability really to communicate in a secure way and ensure that everybody feels safe while we work to fulfill our mission.
Galina: Thank you so much for that introduction and for the introduction of Safe House. You know how we feel and how important we think your work is. Can you tell us about what communication safety means to you and to your group and to the survivors and what it really entails?
Brittany: It is really hard for survivors to process what they have endured in their life. Often I hear from the survivors that we get to work with that they want the ability to share about what’s happened to them and not have to fear that that’s going to be redistributed to people that they didn’t intend to hear their story. And it really creates a deeper level of connection when they feel like they can share with you in confidence and know that they have that safe place. A lot of the survivors that we work with were trafficked by family members. But then once you go outside of the 40 percent that are trafficked by a family member, most of these kids are meeting their first trafficker online. And so they’re developing those relationships over messengers that aren’t secure and they’re hesitant to communicate via some of your more traditional ways. Vaporstream allows us to give them a tool where we can tell them that no one can use it against you. And so it really it’s liberating and freeing for them to know that not only are they safe in one of our safe houses, but they also can communicate in a secure manner.
Galina: Was there anything in particular, a particular moment in time or particular incident that made you realize that communication safety was so critical?
Brittany: I think it’s one of the things where there’s a lot of compounding incidences that make you realize it. Thankfully, we didn’t have some really horrific experience where everybody’s safety was put in jeopardy, but it was more those great conversations that we had with various people around the importance of online safety and going a step further into secure communications.
Galina: Could you talk a little bit about the steps that it takes to build this digital trust with your survivors? Because I’m sure it’s a multi-step approach to get them to the point of comfort. How do you go about it and what are the steps that you take?
Brittany: It can look a little bit different depending on where the survivors coming from and what their specific past entailed. But we just try to help them understand that when we are communicating with them, we want to do it in the most secure way possible to not only protect us, but also protect them. And that’s the more important part for us, because we want them to feel safe. And so we have great dialog initially around the importance of safety, helping them understand that. They can sometimes end up having to relive their trauma because of what has been distributed through technology. And so when you have an individual who can be consistently retraumatized by the presence of content on the web or communication that they had or pornography or any of the things that happened during their trafficking situation that makes technology feel more like an evil. But the reality is that technology is just a tool that can be used for good, can be used for good or evil. And so it’s reshaping it in their mind to show them how we can use different technologies to keep them safe, to have secure communication. And then that allows them over time to build up the trust.
Galina: What do you think the general public, the rest of us could learn to benefit from your experiences in terms of building better trust in communications? What would you say are the top three tips and tricks for building trust that you could give to anybody who is not necessarily in this kind of situation?
Brittany: I think that we are in a state where there is information overload and often that means that things can be taken out of context or people are afraid to say something because of how easy it is to distribute and to record something and have it distributed. I think we need to have the freedom to have great conversations that drive innovation, that drive people to feeling empowered. I think the other part of building trust is that it takes time and sometimes it’s about using all of the tools at hand to build that trust. We’re sitting here, social distancing, for instance. And so usually the things that would allow us to build trust are going to be those in-person interactions. But we have had that removed from us in the current climate. And so now this is a time where so much interaction is happening in the digital space. And people need to feel free to voice their concerns, their fears and everything like that but in a secure way. I think the final thing around this is really just around personal safety and making sure that you feel like that if you have private information, that you don’t have to worry about that getting spread and jeopardizing your future career or your chances of getting into college or anything like that. We live in an age where information is at our fingertips and people can either use that for good or for evil. And so this is just one more layer of protection around us and our families and our communities to keep everyone safe.
Galina: Where do you see safety communications going in the future? Do you think people are more aware of it in general? Do you think that there are some trends you would like to see just so that we could have all the benefits of technology, but maybe remove some of the downsides?
Brittanny: Yeah, I think security is paramount. I think everybody feels that whether you’re in cybersecurity or otherwise. My husband is in the military. And so everything is always about security in my household. How do we keep our kids safe online? How do we keep our kids and our families safe from financial threats? I feel like in today’s day and age, that’s all we’re talking about. Just from a practical application standpoint, the fact that I can tell my husband a password to an account when he’s halfway around the world and not worry about somebody and or personal information, that’s huge. That’s really important for our military community because deployment doesn’t mean that you get to always have the ability to share that information securely. And so rather than passing it through traditional forms, you can use something like Vaporstream to securely pass that information and still protect your family. So I think there’s a lot of opportunity as we continue to see our world evolve and see the response to threats against our security. And I’m excited to see the innovation that is spurred as a result of just our current climate.
Galina: Oh, absolutely. Thank you for that, I love your example because you’re absolutely right. Especially in military situations, like you said, with your husband being deployed halfway around the world and you needed to share something very private and confidential. And I think looking closer to home with today’s crisis, we see that quite a bit with health care professionals who might be isolated or quarantined or stuck at work and just not having necessarily easy access to communicate with their families or their patients. So maybe this crisis, you’re right, will highlight that a little bit to the rest of the world that has maybe not have to deal with it the way you’ve had to deal with it.
Brittany: It reminds me as well, I’ve seen a lot of family recently going through the challenge of a grandparent passing or a family member passing and needing to transfer information around passwords and security or username passwords around and their accounts and talk about such a secure way to do that. If you don’t live in the same city, you never want to pass that over traditional forms of email or something like that. This is a great way to know that that information would not be seen by anybody in the interim.
Galina: Absolutely. And certainly if you do pass it around in traditional ways, it could become a hacker’s paradise. And that’s what we really want to avoid. Which actually brings me to my next question. Just listening to you and hearing a lot about what’s going on with Safe House and social distancing I would imagine that this time, more than ever, we really need to think about what the less fortunate than us maybe are going through and how difficult it is for you to keep your mission going, because you can’t be there in the ways that you would have normally been in terms of being there in person, having that interaction. Could you tell us a little bit more about the challenges you encounter and how our listeners perhaps could assist at this difficult time?
Brittanny: This is a hard issue on any given day, but you add the layers of complexity around coronavirus to the current situation. And you take a very vulnerable group of individuals who have always been vulnerable and you just layer on more fear and uncertainty, which creates just more challenges.
So just to back up slightly, we have on average hundreds of thousands of children in the United States that are trafficked every year. And so Safe House project exists to accelerate safe house capacity by launching new safe houses that will serve these children in a residential program for usually on average, twelve months. And that’s with all of the necessary wraparound services that’s going to have a house, guardian and it’s going to have therapists on site. It’s going to have educators. And it’s putting them back on the road to recovery and really empowering them for a lifetime of freedom. So in the current climate, we have a challenge because we have members of our teams and our support teams who can’t get to their safe houses for one reason or another. And so all of these are added costs as we work to create more ways to serve those who are in care. We are also seeing a rise in the number of survivors that are needing help. Our work has always been needed. It’s always been relevant. But I think it’s just highlighted in these times as a national or global crisis. And so we greatly appreciate anyone who can and will come alongside us to help meet the needs of the most vulnerable populations in our society and ensure that at the other end of this, they are here to celebrate all of us getting to come out of isolation and reenter society together.