Now there’s a mobile app that monitors and records human rights abuses

Avatar photo

By Jonathan Ames on

International lawyers group launches hi-tech tool in fight against tyrants and political fanatics


Forget Tinder, Snapchat and Periscope — apps have just got serious, with the release of a tool that documents and reports human rights abuses.

The International Bar Association (IBA) — more usually associated with extravagant law firm parties at which top-flight partners get squiffy — yesterday released the eyeWitness to Atrocities app.

It may sound like the latest bloodthirsty gaming gig, but senior IBA officials assure that the revolutionary tool will be invaluable in assisting with the secure and verifiable registering of crucial evidence.

According to the organisation’s executive director, Mark Ellis, the app “will be a transformational tool in the fight for human rights, providing a solution to the evidentiary challenges surrounding mobile phone footage”.

Ellis explained:

“Until now, it has been extremely difficult to verify the authenticity of these images and to protect the safety of those brave enough to record them.”

The London-based IBA — which has financed the app’s development to the tune of $1 million (£650,000) — says the device will automatically collect and embed into a video file GPS co-ordinates, date and time, device sensor data, and surrounding objects such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi networks.

Users will have the option of adding any additional identifying information regarding images. That metadata will verify footage and put it into context. The app will encrypt and securely store images and data, as well as embed a process that verifies the footage has not been edited or digitally manipulated.

Users can then submit the information directly from the app to a database maintained by the eyeWitness organisation. Once the video is transmitted, it is stored in a secure virtual evidence locker safeguarding the original, encrypted footage for future investigations and legal proceedings.

According to the IBA, submitted footage is only accessible to legal experts that will analyse it and identify the appropriate authorities, including international, regional or national courts, to pursue relevant cases.