Privacy & Security

The Bunjil Forest Watch prototype is not a guaranteed highly security site.

Usernames and activities can be seen by other users and the site admins.

When you create an area, others can see it, and the associated tasks and reports.

When you make an area private, it is harder for other users to see. However, your area ‘s coordinates are still sent securely to Google (Earth Engine and App Engine) , and are available to the administrators of this application.

Forest watchers who need higher levels of privacy to protect your security should contact the administrator to discuss your requirements.

Only details you enter on the site are public. The site has no access to your google account apart from the email address.

When you create an account with Google, Google does not share anything related to your account except you gmail address.

From the release note v11:

  • Share Areas. Areas now have a new attribute ‘share’ to AreaOfInterest. This can have values public, unlisted or private.
  • Public areas are the default. Public areas can be seen and followed by all other users. Tasks related to the area are also publicly listed.
  • Unlisted areas do not appear in lists of areas or tasks. However, a user with a link to the area has the same visibility and access as a public area and can follow the area.
  • Private areas can only be seen by the user who created the area (the owner). Any other user will get a 404 resource not found. Tasks for Private areas can only be listed by the owner (and admin) and are only emailed to the owner
  • Tasks relating to an area inherit the same sharing status as the area.
  • The owner can change the share status at any time. It may take time for the cache to catch up, and old tasks are still visible.

For Observation Tasks

  • Tasks for a private area can only be listed by the owner of the area.
  • Tasks for private and unlisted areas do not appear in the All Tasks list.
  • Tasks for unlisted areas can only be listed from the area’s link.
  • Users may list the tasks of other users. (with param ?username=username)

Security Threats

These threats would apply to a fully operational system.

There is a risk that rogue volunteers could register and then attempt to thwart the results by misreporting changes.

There is a risk that poachers or others working against the local groups could discover where they are operating and.

The local groups must check each report and provide feedback so poor quality advice would soon become apparent.

Local groups may also need to report large disturbances that they learn of independently to the monitoring to help identify volunteers who failed to report changes.

Rogue volunteers may try to register to learn where there are coverage gaps.

The archive of reports could be valuable to researchers but could also be used by illegal loggers to look for monitoring gaps in which to target future operations. Access to reports needs careful consideration by the sponsor.

Building Trust

Experienced and trusted volunteers can review and audit reports. Mentoring inexperienced volunteers can raise the quality of reports. Reducing the rate of misreporting reduces the number of unnecessary expeditions by the local groups, and increases their confidence in the reports.