A double edged sword: benefits, challenges and recommendations for using information and communication technology to monitor or investigate human rights
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Human rights monitors and investigators have developed rigorous research methodologies to ensure the data they collect is reliable, accurate, and holds human rights abusers accountable. These methods have changed little over time, until recently through the proliferation of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Researchers are increasingly relying on ICT tools to collect information, connect with sources, and further their access. While these tools present numerous benefits, they also pose practical and ethical challenges to the researchers utilising them. ICT tools are now a double-edged sword in the fact-finders’ toolbox, and they are changing the way research is conducted. Given this evolution, there is a need for the human rights documentation community to develop standards on how to utilise ICT tools effectively and ethically. This thesis highlights the benefits and challenges posed by using ICT tools for fact-finding and fills the gap in practical guidance for researchers by providing recommendations for best practice. Additionally, this work examines the impact ICT tools are having on traditional research methods. The author relied primarily on research derived from 33 interviews and a survey with 66 human rights researchers, to ensure that the expertise of the practitioners themselves was featured and this thesis remained practical and relevant.