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From Syria to Myanmar and beyond, many of today's most intractable and brutal conflicts are being documented by everyday internet users equipped with smartphones. But even though they're documenting vital evidence that could one day help convict perpetrators of atrocities, their footage and photos are at risk from the very platforms that host them.
YouTube has deleted millions of video files and thousands of user profiles deemed inappropriate or extremist. Many of the removed files documented events in Syria, including evidence of alleged international crimes and content that could make a significant contribution to the historic record of the conflict.
Facebook - Year - UN - Special - Rapporteur
Then there's Facebook. This year, UN Special Rapporteur Fionnuala Ní Aoláin asked the company to make its guidelines on terrorism-related content more specific, as the existing definitions risked removing content posted by legitimate opponents of oppressive authorities. She told New York University's Just Security news site that her office would take a similar approach to "other platforms whose practices mirror Facebook".
What both these cases make clear is that if justice is to be done at the international level, in particular at the International Criminal Court (ICC), new ways must be found to preserve and collect this kind of evidence.
Conflicts - Technology - Observers - Bodies - Press
Modern conflicts are now documented primarily via digital technology, and traditional observers from international bodies and the press often cannot reach conflict zones. This is a serious problem in both the Syrian conflict and the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar. Both have generated large volumes of civilian-made evidence, much of which is only accessible on online platforms whose content guidelines it breaches. So how can this evidence be kept for use in future criminal proceedings?
One major obstacle is that companies such as YouTube are often based principally in the US, which is not a signatory to the ICC's founding Rome Statue and which vocally rejects...
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