Journal Article

Cameras Everywhere: Ubiquitous Video Documentation of Human Rights, New Forms of Video Advocacy, and Considerations of Safety, Security, Dignity and Consent

Sam Gregory

in Journal of Human Rights Practice

Volume 2, issue 2, pages 191-207
Published in print July 2010 | ISSN: 1757-9619
Published online May 2010 | e-ISSN: 1757-9627 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jhuman/huq002
Cameras Everywhere: Ubiquitous Video Documentation of Human Rights, New Forms of Video Advocacy, and Considerations of Safety, Security, Dignity and Consent

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Peter Gabriel and other allies created WITNESS nearly 20 years ago – shortly after the Rodney King incident in Los Angeles. At the time, our founders asked: ‘What if every human rights worker had a camera in their hands? What would they be able to document? What would they be able to change?’ Since 1992 WITNESS has engaged with the risks, opportunities and possibilities for action that emerge from the power of moving images – training and supporting human rights activists worldwide to create real change through our methodology of ‘video advocacy’. Yet now an increasing number of people worldwide have cameras. Participants, witnesses and perpetrators are all filming. Videos (particularly mobile video) make it possible to document and publicize human rights struggles – from monks marching for freedom in Rangoon and the election protestors in Tehran, to individual voices speaking out against injustice on YouTube. However, despite the growing online circulation of images of human rights violations, of victims and survivors, there is limited discussion of crucial safety, consent and ethical concerns – particularly for people who are filmed. Issues around consent, representation and re-victimization and retaliation have emerged even more clearly in an open and networked online environment. Video is being reworked, remixed and recirculated by many more people. New possibilities for action by a global citizenry have arisen, but these carry with them real dangers. The human rights and technology communities can help lead the way in confronting these challenges. The article concludes with suggestions for approaches based on norms, technology solutions, and other ideas that could be deployed to begin to address these emerging issues.

Keywords: digital technologies; ethics; informed consent; representation; video advocacy; web 2.0

Journal Article.  6871 words. 

Subjects: Ethical Issues and Debates ; Human Rights and Immigration ; Human Rights ; Politics ; Social Movements and Social Change

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