Winners of law firm-backed hackathon design Snapchat add-on that allows LGBT+ people to report hate crimes

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By Thomas Connelly on

A lawyer can then verify the images and videos


A team of top computer boffins have designed a new tool that allows lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT+) people to report hate crimes through popular social media app Snapchat.

As part of legal database LexisNexis’ ‘Hack the Change’ challenge — supported by the likes of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Hogan Lovells and Osborne Clarke — 40 coders, developers and designers were tasked with creating a new tech-based system to help connect “LGBT+ people with those documenting and fighting discrimination”.

Given just 48 hours to come up with a unique solution, the ‘Suitcase Hackers’ — the winning team in the competition — created a new tool that works in conjunction with global image messaging giant Snapchat.

Witnesses and victims of hate crimes will be able to upload images, videos and documentation “securely” from their mobile phones. Selecting what looks like a normal Snapchat contact, protecting both the user’s anonymity and safety, evidence can be submitted to specialist lawyers via a secure server.

The Human Dignity Trust, a legal charity that supports those who want to challenge anti-gay laws across the globe, will now start creating this tool.

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 criminalise the lives of LGBT people, representing approximately 40% of the world’s population. This will not be solved overnight — but timely reporting and documenting of these crimes is a vital first step.

She added:

It was exciting and inspiring to see so many technologists, designers, developers and legal experts come together to make a positive difference in the world. We look forward to seeing the winning design actively impact lives for the better.

Other ideas to come out of the event include a reporting webpage disguised as a recipe site and a portal system which connects the victims of hate crimes directly to international legal teams.