Ethical Wednesdays:…Eyewitness Footage

Ethical Wednesdays: Additional Resources on Ethics and Eyewitness Footage by Madeleine Bair.

From the post:

For the past three months, WITNESS has been sharing work from our new Ethical Guidelines for Using Eyewitness Videos for Human Rights and Advocacy. We wrap up our blog series by sharing a few of the resources that provided us with valuable expertise and perspectives in our work to develop guidelines (the full series can be found here).

Not all of the resources below are aimed at human rights documentation, and not all specifically address eyewitness footage. But the challenge ensuring that new forms of information gathering and data management are implemented safely and ethically affects many industries, and the following guidance from the fields of crisis response, journalism, and advocacy is relevant to our own work using eyewitness footage for human rights. (For a full list of the resources we referred to in our Ethical Guidelines, download the guide for a complete list in the appendix.)

ICRC’s Professional Standards for Protection Work Carried out by Humanitarian and human rights actors in armed conflict and other situations of violence – The 2nd Edition of the International Committee of the Red Cross’s manual includes new chapters developed to address the ethics of new technologies used to collect information and manage data. While not specific to video footage, its chapter on Managing Sensitive Protection Information provides a relevant discussion on the assessing informed of information found online. “It is often very difficult or even impossible to identify the original source of the information found on the Internet and to ascertain whether the information obtained has been collected fairly/lawfully with the informed consent of the persons to whom this data relates. In other words, personal data accessible on the Internet is not always there as a result of a conscious choice of the individuals concerned to share information in the public domain.”

Quite a remarkable series of posts and additional resources.

There are a number of nuances to the ethics of eyewitness footage that caught me unawares.

My prior experience was shaped around having a client and other than my client, all else was acceptable collateral damage.

That isn’t the approach taken in these posts so you will have to decide which approach, or some mixture of the two works for you.

I agree it is unethical to cause needless suffering, but if you have a smoking gun, you should be prepared to use it to maximum effectiveness.

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