Eyewitness app lets smartphones report war crimes

By Kate Hassett

Eyewitness app lets smartphones report war crimes
This new app is changing the way technology is being used as evidence against human rights violations.

Launching Monday, a mobile phone app, that enables eyewitnesses to record evidence of alleged atrocities, from wherever they are in the world, will be available for download.

Created by the London-based International Bar Association (IBA), the app will enable users to submit images and videos to be used in court.

Initially aimed at bringing to justice, those who have committed heinous war crimes, the app will rectify the issues that are aligned with photography as evidence. These being related to authenticity of the images and being able to verify the time, date and exact location of the image. Previously, photographic and video evidence had faced many issues regarding it’s ability to be used in courts. Now, the app will allow these issues to become things of the past, with tracking technology to instantly imprint each image with the correct time, location and date.

Issues had also arisen in regards to digital manipulation of images, whereby videos and photographs were being edited to depict certain scenarios that were later disproven. By recording the exact pixels of an image, the app is also able to provide a safeguard against digital manipulation.

In the age of smartphones and dissemination of information so readily available throughout social media channels, citizen reportage is becoming increasingly prevalent, and important, in court cases.

Known as eyeWitness to atrocities, the app designed for Android smartphones will soon be adapted for a variety of other devices. Developed with the London legal data firm, Lexis Nexis, all information sent by the users will be stored on its servers in the USA.

Ian McDougall, general counsel of Lexis Nexis, said there would be an option for the film to be deleted once all data is sent, in order to protect the senders – should their phones be seized by “hostile forces”. With what is essentially a ‘kill switch’, users will be able to wipe their devices clean of evidence  as well as the app itself, should the necessity arise.

The film, once uploaded, will be encrypted then assessed by a team of lawyers from the IBA in London, who will decide if the evidence will be sent to an International war crimes tribunal.

“The eyeWitness to Atrocities app will be a transformational tool in the fight for human rights, providing a solution to the evidentiary challenges surrounding mobile phone footage,” said Mark Ellis, IBA executive director.

What do you think of this new technology? Is this exactly what the world needed?







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