Technology, Law and Policy

Technology, Law and Policy

Legal Investigations 

As part of our Investigations Lab, we have a Legal Investigation Team that works with partners on complex cases for justice and accountability purposes. This includes information gathering, verification, and analysis aimed at future criminal and civil proceedings in national or international courts, as well as human rights commissions and other commissions of inquiry. In addition to discovery and verification, the Team supports preservation and archiving efforts for digital information and evidence. Students on the Legal Investigation Team learn how to handle and evaluate digital open source evidence to meet the requisite standards of proof in court, while contributing to larger efforts to seek accountability for perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. 

Strategic Litigation

Working with external partners, we support strategic litigation and engage in other legal work that advances human, environmental and digital rights in cases all around the world including South America, Asia, North Africa and the Middle East. Our strategic litigation projects provide Berkeley law students and legal studies majors an opportunity to develop case-building skills, learn international criminal procedure and evidence law, and gain hands-on experience, while contributing to important human rights litigation efforts.

International Legal Policy

We conduct in-depth research on areas of relevance to international criminal and human rights investigators, lawyers and judges. Our policy research and recommendations focus on forward-looking issues at the cross-section of technology and law, often with a global perspective. Our team provides advice and support to international organizations and companies in the drafting and development of their policies and guidelines. Specific international legal policy projects include:

The Berkeley Protocol on Digital Open Source Investigations

In partnership with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, HRC spearheaded an initiative to develop professional standards and guidelines for the identification, collection, preservation, analysis and presentation of digital open source information in international criminal and human rights investigations. The process  involved over 150 consultations with a range of experts and input from key stakeholders. The contributors to this process represent a diversity of perspectives, as well as professions, genders, nationalities, and ethnicities. This Protocol has been published in English and Ukrainian, is being translated into all UN languages to facilitate its use and utility worldwide.

Technology Forecasting for International Justice and Human Rights

In collaboration with the Technology Advisory Board of the International Criminal Court, the HRC is spearheading an initiative to educate international criminal justice practitioners and key stakeholders about challenges and opportunities related to the use of new and emerging technologies. Our forecasting research focuses on technologies and tools used for online investigations, data management and information security. This includes comparative research on national law enforcement practices, as well as ongoing developments on relevant laws, policies and regulations at the national and international level. The objective of this effort is to promote innovation in international criminal justice and, where appropriate, to support and advocate for State Party spending that would assist in that innovation.

Digital Archives and e-Evidence Vaults Research

The HRC is conducting in-depth research to address a persistent problem in human rights accountability efforts: the preservation and storage of digital evidence. Internationally mandated investigations, including those conducted by United Nations commissions of inquiry or authorized by the International Criminal Court, are dependent on legal and political processes permitting the investigation to take place. Thus, they are often conducted long after the events occurred. In the many years between a violation occurring and legal accountability processes beginning, vital evidence is lost. Human rights organizations seek to fill this gap, but do not have the resources to do it at scale. The HRC, working closely with various stakeholders, is studying existing models of digital archives in order to develop a proposed solution to one of the most significant problems in achieving justice and accountability for the violation of human rights around the world.

Professional Training

We provide training and workshops to professional journalists, investigators, analysts, lawyers and judges on digital open source investigations. Our open source investigation course trains participants cutting-edge online investigation techniques, using The Berkeley Protocol as a teaching tool. In addition to the tools, techniques and skill-building common to most open source investigation training, our course includes education on ethical, legal and security frameworks; resiliency; preparation and strategic planning; discovery; collection; preservation; verification; analysis; and reporting.

In addition to the regularly offered professional courses in The Hague and Berkeley, HRC offers ad hoc training on open source investigations to organizations and groups of professionals working in human rights and international justice. If interested, please contact