Hiding in Plain Site: Using Online Open-Source Information to Investigate Sexual Violence and Gender-Based Crimes

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Alexa Koenig, Ulic Egan
Publication Date
May 25, 2021
Publication Type
Book Chapter
Conflict, Investigations Program, Open Source Investigations, Technology


Koenig and Egan provide a wide-ranging discussion on the uses and risks of digital witnessing by lawyers, reporters, advocates, victims, and perpetrators. Grounded in both textual research and extensive interviews with human rights investigators, the authors argue that open-source digital content has tremendous potential for establishing facts about atrocities in areas that are difficult for investigators to physically access; however, an increasing reliance on open-source content also introduces new challenges. They develop their argument and analysis through a focus on the use of open-source images, including video, of sexual and gender-based violence. They underscore that such cases demonstrate how digital witnessing runs the risk of spectacularizing as well as of missing certain kinds of violations, particularly in places where the use of digital technologies is itself gendered.


Contributing chapter to “Technologies of Human Rights Representation” (SUNY Press, 2022).