IPS Executive Director Federica D’Alessandra, and Visiting Fellows Ambassador Stephen J. Rapp and Sareta Ashraph are part of a new initiative of the Berkeley Human Rights Center, HRC (serving on the project’s Advisory and Editorial Committees, respectively). The HRC, under the leadership of Alexa Koenig and Eric Stover, with Lindsay Freeman leading the project, is spearheading a collaborative effort to develop an International Protocol on Open Source Investigations (OSINT Protocol), which sets common standards and guidelines for the identification, collection, preservation, verification and analysis of online open-source information with an aim towards improving its effective use in international criminal and human rights investigations. Establishing legal and ethical norms for online open-source investigations will professionalize the field and, in doing so, increase the likelihood that such information will be useful for justice and accountability purposes.
This process is similar to past efforts to develop standards around investigating torture, extrajudicial executions, and sexual violence in conflict. These past initiatives were essential steps to help lawyers and judges better understand how to evaluate new investigative techniques, and guide first responders and civil society groups on how to collect information in a manner consistent with legal requirements. The Protocol will serve as a resource for practitioners, as well as a valuable training and teaching tool for those using OSINT and online investigations to assess security risks, protect witnesses, track fugitives, monitor crime data, develop investigative leads and collect evidence.
The Protocol will be launched (virtually) from Nuremberg Courtroom 600 on 1 December, in an event that will bring together advocates and experts to discuss issues arising at the intersection of human rights, technology and legal accountability.