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Part III, 13 Open Source Investigations: Understanding Digital Threats, Risks, and Harms

Joseph Guay, Lisa Rudnick

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: 23 September 2023

Access to justice — International criminal law — Humanitarian intervention — Conduct of proceedings — International responsibility

Open source investigations (OSI) hold tremendous potential for both advancing justice and accountability, and responding to humanitarian protection needs. However, because they often focus on sensitive matters, involve vulnerable people, and operate in a domain that is hyperconnected, rapidly evolving and only (s)lightly regulated, OSI practices can also exacerbate the harm faced by already-vulnerable populations, and introduce new dimensions of risk for investigators and those they serve. This chapter considers how emerging threats and risks can lead to digitally derived harms that OSI practitioners working in the digital space need to be aware of. It highlights two kinds of digital threats that OSI practitioners must take into account: those that are malicious in nature (e.g. surveillance, monitoring, and intrusion, or the weaponization of information); and those that are incidental (e.g. the unintended harms that result from the accidental disclosure of sensitive information or that are associated with data experimentation).

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