A Victim’s Right To Privacy

By Anjana Rajan, Chief Technology Officer of Callisto

Last week, Callisto announced that we are expanding our work to support victims of sexual assault and coercion in industry. While we bring several years of experience in working on this problem on universities with our original product Callisto Campus, moving into professional sectors brings a new set of complexities: victims and predators are not confined to a single institution, the reporting channels are not centralized, and predators are powerful and well-resourced to retaliate against their victims. The prospect of reporting is daunting and comes with a unique set of personal and professional consequences.

To address predatory behavior in workplaces, we will be building a brand new product, launching first in the tech industry later this summer: one single website for any victim of sexual misconduct that can detect any serial sexual predator. Victims can input the identity of their perpetrators into the matching escrow; if a match is found, a Callisto Options Counselor (a lawyer), will reach out to each victim to help them understand their reporting options, and connect victims to each other if doing so is in their mutual interest.

Callisto’s goal has always been to design and engineer products that build trust with our users. Last year when we were building Callisto Campus, we partnered with experts in neurobiology and psychology to understand the physical and emotional effects on a survivor when they are recalling and recounting their experience. These principles guided our work in creating an empathetic and trauma-informed product.

Data security is another one of these guiding principles. Callisto has always focused on protecting the privacy of victims throughout the reporting process. As we expand to serve and empower more users, we realize that our threat models will become more sophisticated and complex. Therefore, as we grow from college campuses into industry, our technical solution has evolved to protect against those risks. We’ve formed a new advisory board with several of the world’s most prominent cryptographers, and under their tutelage we’ve designed a new product that implements advanced cryptographic techniques to protect users’ data against cyber threats and malicious actors.

Today, we are publishing two pieces of work to show the public how we think about privacy, both for victims and the accused. First, we have authored a technical white paper that details our cryptographic design; second, we have launched a demo application — along with its source code — that showcases how we implement this cryptography in practice. Both of these can be found at cryptography.projectcallisto.org.*

Reporting sexual assault and harassment is one of the most vulnerable moments in a person’s life. Callisto’s mission is to empower survivors with agency and help them find the path towards justice that is right for them. The reporting process should restore a sense of humanity to a survivor after it’s been stripped away, and protecting their privacy is imperative in achieving this goal.

*Please note: This is only a demo application and cannot be used to report sexual assault or harassment.