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Digital Witness: Using Open Source Information for Human Rights Investigation, Documentation, and Accountability

Edited by Sam Dubberley, Alexa Koenig, Daragh Murray


Mobile technologies, social media, and increased connectivity are having a significant impact on human rights practice. Modern technology—and the enhanced access it provides to information about abuse—has the potential to revolutionise both human rights reporting and documentation, as well as the pursuit of legal accountability. However, these new methods for information gathering and dissemination have also created significant challenges for investigators. The capture and dissemination of content often happens haphazardly, and for a variety of motivations, including raising awareness of the plight of those who have been most affected or for advocacy purposes. For this content to be of use to investigators it must be discovered, verified, and authenticated. Discovery, verification, and authentication have, therefore, become critical skills for human rights organisations, and international human rights lawyers. This book covers the history, ethics, methods, and best-practice associated with open source research. It is intended to equip the next generation of lawyers, journalists, sociologists, data scientists, and other human rights activists and researchers, with the cutting-edge skills needed to work in an increasingly digitized and information-saturated environment. The book is organized in sections. First, the book situates open source investigations in an historical, social, and theoretical context. Next, it covers the logistics of discovery, verification, and archiving. It then discusses the possibilities and limitations of using open source information in human rights monitoring and documentation, and suggests how future developments in open source information technology may affect human rights work.

Bibliographic Information

Sam Dubberley, editor

Alexa Koenig, editor

Daragh Murray, editor

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