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Part III, 11 Ethics in Open Source Investigations

Zara Rahman, Gabriela Ivens

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

Edited By: Sam Dubberley, Alexa Koenig, Daragh Murray

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 22 February 2024

Access to justice — Responsibility of non-state actors — Responsibility of international organizations — Ethical standards — Responsibility of individuals — Responsibility of states

This chapter takes a rights-based approach to ethics, considering how people's rights are affected by both the process and the end result of open source investigations. It begins by interrogating the purpose of investigations, noting that the methods for open source investigations in pursuit of human rights are the same methods that can be used by malicious actors in pursuit of the exact opposite. With this in mind, it considers with whom the responsibility lies in the case of unintended negative consequences, and the ethics of how these distinct actors are treated, the power they hold, and the risks they face. This is followed by discussions on the built infrastructures of an investigation, the ethical considerations of data processes, the ethical challenges might arise in the future.

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