Friday Share: eyeWitness to Atrocities

by | Jun 19, 2015

eyeWitness to Atrocities

Earlier this month, the International Bar Association (IBA) released a mobile phone app – eyeWitness to Atrocities – for “documenting and reporting human rights atrocities in a secure and verifiable way so the information can be used as evidence in a court of law.”

The intent of the project is to help solve a sizable legal gap amid the growing volume of graphical documentation published online about atrocities.  As an announcement from the IBA noted, “many online images have raised awareness of atrocities around the world but typically lack the attribution or information necessary to be used as evidence in a court of law.”

LexisNexis Legal & Professional “hosting the secure repository, database and backup system to store and analyse data collected via the app.”  It’s a natural fit for the company to support this program as it nests neatly with a company-wide initiative to support the Rule of Law around the globe.

For this week’s Friday Share, we’re publishing a roundup of stories and content about the app.

Round Up of eyeWitness News

Here are some bits and bytes from across the web on the eyeWitness to Atrocities app that provide a snapshot understanding of what it does and how it works:

1. Android App Captures Verifiable Images of Human Atrocities | Legaltech News

The eyeWitness app is designed to overcome the difficulties in verifying video evidence. The app records and embeds metadata at the point of video capture to help confirm when and where the footage was recorded to authenticate the video as evidence. Captured metadata include GPS coordinates, time-date stamps, camera movement, nearby Bluetooth and Wi-Fi networks, and other corroborating data. In effect, the phone is the witness and the video becomes the evidence.  (Sean Doherty)

2. EyeWitness app lets smartphones report war crimes | BBC News

EyeWitness is designed to record photos, videos and audio recordings in a simple and secure way. It looks like any photography app, but when you open it up, it has a secure mode which means that if your phone is examined by a security official they will not see any of the material you have recorded.  (Rory Cellan-Jones)

3. This app turns war crime footage into legally admissible evidence | Wired UK

Importantly for activists and journalists, a secure setting on the app will ensure all files remain hidden if their phone is searched — many have been held by authorities in Syria in the past few years merely for filming and reporting protests. The app is aimed squarely at human rights abuses. (Liat Clark)

4. Bridging Tech and Law to Bring Perpetrators of Atrocities to Justice | Huffington Post

In 2010, London’s Channel 4 News produced an extraordinary investigative documentary into the killing of thousands of civilians by government forces during the final weeks of Sri Lanka’s twenty-six-year civil war. At the heart of the investigation was a graphic video revealing acts of torture and execution. The video, which had been sent anonymously to Channel 4, contained live-action footage of a soldier shooting a prisoner as he lay bound and blindfolded amongst a pile of bodies, and footage of a soldier sexually brutalising a woman dead or unconscious on the ground. The anonymous video could not be authenticated and Channel 4 ran a tag line seeking the public’s help in providing information about the video or its source. (Mark S. Ellis)

5. EyeWitness app helps record war crimes for court cases | ITProPortal

Due to the prevalence of smartphones, amateur footage is playing an increasingly important role in news reporting, but these video clips are often difficult to prove as authentic. For example, late last year a video purporting to show a Syrian boy saving his sister from an onslaught of gunfire was revealed to be a fake. (Barclay Ballard)

6. This new mobile app could help prosecute war criminals | VentureBeat

This data is encrypted by the app, with files stored locally in a password-protected gallery, separate from the main gallery. There [are] additional features such as “Panic Delete” for those who fear imminent arrest or confiscation, letting them quickly delete the app and all associated files. (Paul Sawers)

7. App to be used to collect civil rights breaches evidence | The Global Legal Post

The app was developed in London and enables the person who made the recording to chose between staying anonymous when uploading the recording or to give their name. When a video is uploaded, it is held in a secure database which is accessible only by legal experts. These experts then decide which are the appropriate authorities to submit the recording to and whether to seek the bringing of criminal charges. (Neasa MacErlean)

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The program’s website offers supporting links, FAQs and has opportunities for lawyers and law firms to get involved on a pro bono basis.  Follow the eyeWitness project on Twitter: @eyewitnessorg.

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Photo credit: Twitter, @eyewitnessorg

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