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13 novembre 2007

Pop musician Peter Gabriel launches "YouTube for human rights"

Founded in 1992 by musician Peter Gabriel, Witness organisation with its slogan "See It Film It Change It" aims at denouncing and providing evidence for human rights violations through video footage. To achieve this aim, human rights activists were given cameras and taught how to use them. Web accessibility simplifies this process by facilitating the media-independent global distribution of information and videos recorded on film or mobile phone cameras.

Witness has now gone one step further and set up The Hub web page, a test version for a portal which is to become the "YouTube for human rights". With its motto "Upload It: See It: Share It. Take Action", the portal enables human rights organisations, activists and individuals to publish videos, images or audio files without censorship and anonymously without registration or log files. Server security is provided by CivicActions, and protection is provided by Openwall GNU/*/Linux which only saves visitors' IP addresses, but not those of the people who upload files. Contributors' IP addresses are only to be checked to see whether the Internet user is in a high-risk country, in which case a secure Internet connection is recommended. The project is supported by numerous human rights organisations like Amnesty, Human Rights Watch or B'Tselem.

The Hub does not assume responsibility for the accuracy or authenticity of its contents and advises users that its contents can be trusted no further than those of any other source on the Internet. This could damage the portal's credibility, for example if it is abused for political purposes. However, the organisers state that contents will be monitored for possible copyright violations and will be withdrawn if a violation is suspected. Users are advised to publish contents under a creative commons license.

Peter Gabriel emphasised that technology had caught up with the Witness project's original idea of "giving cameras to the world" through the rapid spread of mobile phones. At the end of 2007, three billion people would have mobile phones which changed the ways they organise themselves and interact with others. Together with digital cameras and notebooks, they would allow anyone to become a "human rights defender". It had never been easier to record evidence of human rights violations, but so far there had been no means of publishing this evidence through the Internet easily and without censorship. The Hub would change this, promised Gabriel.

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