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Berkeley Protocol gives guidance on using public digital info to fight for human rights

With the advance of technology, many new ways to harness these tools to protect and advance human rights are being developed. The latest of these tools is the Berkeley Protocol on Digital Open Source Investigations.

Developed by the UC Berkeley Human Rights Centre together with the UN Human Rights Office, and shaped with input from over 150 global experts, the Berkeley Protocol represents the first global guidelines for using public digital content posted on social media sites as evidence in international criminal and human rights investigations.

Publicly available digital information has been crucial in developing cases of egregious human rights violations in the recent past. One of the greatest challenges human rights activists and others face is the proliferation of user-generated digital content, especially the discovery and verification of the vast content of online information.

The Berkeley Protocol provides guidelines, on international standards for conducting online research into alleged violations, guidance on methodologies and procedures for gathering, analysing and preserving digital information in a professional, legal and ethical manner. It also sets out measures that online investigators can take to protect the digital, physical and psychosocial safety of themselves and others, including witnesses, victims and first responders, including citizens, activists and journalists, who risk their own well-being to document human rights violations and serious breaches of international law.

The Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law conducts research on war crimes and other serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights. Using evidence-based methods and innovative technologies, we support efforts to hold perpetrators accountable and to protect vulnerable populations.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights) is the leading UN entity on human rights. We represent the world's commitment to the promotion and protection of the full range of human rights and freedoms set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.