I’m incredibly proud to have worked with WITNESS over the past year or so researching and writing the new Cameras Everywhere report on human rights, video, media and technology. Here’s the release for the report, for which I am lead author and researcher, with Sam Gregory, Yvette Alberdingkthijm and Bryan Nunez – and here is a direct download link (pdf):
J. Coco Chang, 718-783-2000 x 316
HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS NEED BETTER PROTECTION WHEN USING VIDEO AND TECHNOLOGY; TECH COMPANIES HAVE A ROLE TO PLAY
WITNESS Provides a Roadmap Report on How to Create a More Powerful Video-for-Change Revolution
NEW YORK–September 6, 2011–As human rights activists and ordinary citizens risk their lives across the Arab world, WITNESS’ latest report argues that we have not yet done enough to empower and protect those who attempt to expose injustices through video.
Video, a powerful tool for change, is enabling the public to become human rights activists on an unprecedented scale. It captures the stories of those facing human rights abuses and the direct evidence of violations. But empowering and protecting activists at the heart of this change and harnessing the power of video and technology to defend human rights, is risky, WITNESS warns.
Launching today, the Cameras Everywhere report calls on technology companies, investors, policymakers and civil society to work together in strengthening the practical and policy environments, as well as the information and communication technologies, used to defend human rights.
“Today, technology is enabling the public, especially young people, to become human rights activists, and with that come incredible opportunities. Activists, developers, technology companies and social media platforms are beginning to realize the potential of video to bring about change, but a more supportive ecosystem is urgently needed. It is our duty, through this ecosystem, to empower and protect those who are risking their lives,” said musician and advocate Peter Gabriel, co-founder of WITNESS.
For the Cameras Everywhere report, over 40 senior experts and practitioners in technology and human rights, like Marietje Schaake (Member of European Parliament), Bob Boorstin (Director, Public Policy, Google) and danah boyd (Senior Researcher, Microsoft Research), were interviewed on issues of privacy and safety, information authentication and management, network vulnerabilities, ethics and policy. Key findings from the report include:
- Video is increasingly central to human rights work and campaigning. With more human rights video being captured and shared by more people than ever before–often in real-time and using non-secure mobile and networked tools– new skills and systems are needed to optimize lasting human rights impact.
- Technology providers are increasingly intermediaries for human rights activism. They should take a more proactive role in ensuring their tools are secure and integrating human rights concerns into their content and user policies.
- Retaliation against human rights defenders caught on camera is a commonplace, yet it is alarming how little discussion there is about visual privacy. Everyone is discussing and designing for privacy of personal data, but the ability to control one’s personal image is neglected. The human rights community’s long-standing focus on anonymity as an enabler of free expression must now develop a new dimension–the right to visual anonymity.
- New vulnerabilities are emerging due to advanced technologies, like facial recognition, which are often instant, global, networked and beyond the control of any individual.
- With more videos coming directly from a wider range of sources, we must also find ways to rapidly verify such information, to aggregate it in clear and compelling ways and to preserve it for future use.
- Ethical frameworks and guidelines for online content are in their infancy and do not yet explicitly reflect or incorporate human rights standards.
- Neither the United States nor the European Union routinely applies human rights standards in forming internet policies. And intergovernmental organizations, such as the UN, are not yet agile players within the policymaking arena of the internet. Meanwhile some governments, notably China, are making headway in both shaping policy against domestic freedom of expression and seeking to influence international standards.