April 04, 2017
Collecting, Preserving, and Verifying Online Evidence of Human Rights Violations
This article first appeared on the OpenGlobalRights website on January 30, 2018
By: Enrique Piracés
The amount of digital information we produce and consume is exponentially expanding: today’s Internet is estimated to contain nearly five billion web pages. How big is this? The 680 billion pieces of paper needed to print the entire Internet would require logging 2% of the remaining Amazon rainforest. The extraordinary size of the digital information firehose that surrounds our existence has affected most areas of human life.
In the context of human rights practice, few things have influenced fact-finding and evidence gathering more than the emergence of online video and user-generated content in social media, blogs, and wikis. The global penetration of camera-equipped phones and the emergence of services such as Twitter, WhatsApp, YouTube, and Telegram, have transformed millions of individuals into information sources and content creators. Since the first video was uploaded to YouTube only 12 years ago, the amount of video publically available to practitioners to monitor and document human rights violations has exploded: there are now more than one billion unique videos available from that provider alone.