Earlier this year we announced our “Cameras Everywhere” initiative which hopes to address some of the changes happening around human rights video online and on mobile phones. The tools for creating and distributing video are becoming more wide spread and more accessible. More video means greater opportunities for people to see human rights video, but one aspect is that it also means more risks if people aren’t careful about protecting their privacy, and that of people they film. Part of the initiative is about trying to bring human rights values into the development processes of the people and companies that make these tools. We also decided that we needed to start making some of these tools ourselves.
Our first effort at tool building started at the 2010 Open Video Conference “hack day,” where we partnered up with the Guardian Project, and came up with the Secure Smart Camera (SSC). The SSC is an open source camera phone application built especially for human rights defenders. The idea is to combine concepts like informed consent, intent, and human dignity with technical features that help ensure the safety, security, and privacy of the pictures, video, and data collected on the phone.
Some of the SSC’s security features will include:
- Visual Obfuscation (i.e. automated face blur): During a protest, an activist films an interview with a spokesperson for the group, but wants to protect the identity of the people in the background. She does this by automatically blurring out the faces of everyone who hasn’t consented to being on camera.
- Secure Encrypted Storage for Media and Metadata: A human rights worker uses his camera phone to collect testimony from villagers forced out of their homes by the government, but on the way back to his lodgings, he is arrested and his phone confiscated. The police want to know who was interviewed.
What’s Next and A Call for Developers
We hope to have a working demo at the end of April. If you’re an Android developer or just curious, you can check out what we’re doing on the SCC Github site. If you’re interested in learning more check out the Guardian Project’s page. If you’re a programmer and are interested in helping, we’ve got a project on Github too.