Do you believe that video and technology can support human rights? WITNESS does. We’ve seen first-hand the power of video in supporting and securing human rights.
But these days, cameras are everywhere, and so are videos of human rights abuses. This video can be safe, ethical, and effective. But sometimes, documentation gets lost in the noise or endangers the very people it’s meant to help. We see videos and images that expose the identities of survivors, and videos that simply cannot be verified in a way that makes them meaningful for advocacy.
We believe more video can mean more rights, but there’s work to do, and we need your help, especially since we’re updating some of our older apps!
About our apps
For the past seven years, WITNESS has collaborated with the Guardian Project to develop better ways of documenting human rights abuses. Under our InformaCam project, launched in 2013 with the help of Knight News Challenge grant from from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, we launched CameraV and continued work on our very first collaboration, ObscuraCam.
We started work on ObscuraCam way back in 2011. Using ObscuraCam you can “automatically detect faces that you can pixelate, redact (blackout) or protect with funny nose and glasses.” Like YouTube’s built-in face-blurring feature, ObscuraCam makes it easier to protect privacy while sharing evidence of human rights abuses, conducting interviews, and more. With the increasing phenomena of people sharing video of abuses immediately on social media, ObscuraCam is more important than ever.
CameraV was our first public release under our Knight News Challenge Grant. CameraV does a bit of everything. It “uses the built-in sensors in modern smartphones for tracking movement, light and other environmental inputs, along with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cellular network information to capture a snapshot of the environment around you, while you are taking a photo or video.” It also has encrypted storage and strong network security, and allows you to notarize photos for verifiability.
While we loved CameraV, as the Guardian Project says, it was a “complex application and novel data format that required a great deal of investment by any user or community”. Furthermore, you needed to remember to use it before you started recording. However, there are dedicated communities that continue to use CameraV — we know many users appreciate its encrypted storage and other features.
ProofMode is our most recent release. We’ve been working on this app since last year. ProofMode captures rich metadata about images and video, while cryptographically signing them to increase verifiability and provide a chain of custody. Guardian Project released ProofMode to the Google Play store on February 24, 2017. Unlike CameraV or ObscuraCam, ProofMode is a tiny app that you can easily set to run the background or turn on with the flip of a switch. It takes little memory or power from your phone, but it does create photos and video that are much easier to verify.
We’re hearing feedback that our older apps weren’t functioning properly anymore – and we’re listening. These apps do something important, otherwise we wouldn’t have created them, and that’s why we’re investing in them now. ObscuraCam is getting an update this month, and CameraV is getting bug fixes now. Keep your eyes peeled for new releases. Going forward, if we cannot maintain an app, we’ll let you know. We’re also continuing to improve ProofMode.
iOs users, we haven’t forgotten about you. We’re exploring ways to work for iPhone too.
Stay tuned for more on what’s next. And in the meantime, become a part of the process. Download ProofMode, CameraV, and ObscuraCam today. Try them out, report issues, and email us at email@example.com with your feedback. Even better, if you’d like to be on our permanent tester email list, shoot us an email (we’ll be creating a sign-up form on our site ASAP). The list will be very low volume.
Finally, WITNESS and Guardian Project have created these apps on a shoestring budget. Your donations help WITNESS continue this work.