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Ahmed Elgammal is part artist, scientist, innovator, and philosopher—and maybe all parts alchemist. The Rutgers University professor grew up in Alexandria, Egypt, enthralled by the city’s historic art and influenced by uncles who were artists. He earned his Ph.D. in computer science at the University of Maryland and went on to found and direct the Art and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at Rutgers. His futuristic work, which combines art and artificial intelligence, lights up the cover of the recently launched Berkeley Protocol on Digital Open Source Investigations (which definitely can’t be geolocated).

Did your love for computer science or your love for art come first?

Definitely my love for art came first. Even before…


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María Maura Contreras’s children were taken by the U.S.-backed armed forced during El Salvador’s civil war.

I was in El Salvador on an assignment for the Human Rights Center at UC Berkeley when The New York Times reported about 5-year-old José who was taken away from his father at the border and sent to a foster family in Michigan. The foster mother explained how the boy clutched stick-figure drawings of his family, cried himself to sleep, and collapsed on her kitchen floor, crying “Mama, Papa,” over and over again.

As I traveled through gritty San Salvador, I saw dozens of little boys who could be that boy — a boy whose parents cared so much about…


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At the RightsCon2018 Toronto panel on Women & Silicon Valley last week, leaders in technology, human rights, and government discussed the ongoing struggles for equality and fairness faced by women and people of color. Although they noted the importance of #MeToo as a watershed moment and highlighted a number of practices since put in place to improve disparities, the women didn’t gloss over the significant roadblocks to progress. And they noted that the fight for equality is important far beyond tech.

“We know that diversity in tech is important to innovation…but more importantly in developing solutions to the most important…


By Andrea Lampros and Alexa Koenig

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When we launched the Human Rights Center’s Investigations Lab in fall 2016, we tried to keep our eyes on three priorities: the digital security, physical security, and psycho-social security of the various constituencies implicated in our work.

While each is critical, the responsibility for the psycho-social security of our Berkeley undergraduate and graduate students — who may be as young as 17 — is what often keeps us up at night. …


At an Arcade Fire concert in Oakland last fall, three weeks after the shooting in Las Vegas and months before the Parkland shooting, our three teenagers sat on the opposite side of the expansive arena from my husband and me—a happenstance of ticket purchasing. On a night that should have been entirely carefree, I strained to see my kids, worrying about how I would get to them if a shooter opened fire. Would I exit and run around the arena? Would I try to cross the stage? Should we have planned a meeting point? Did I remind them to stay…


Watch this video about the publication!

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The Undocumental team is together at UC Berkeley School of Law on the publication’s launch night. (Photo by Monica Haulman)

UC Berkeley celebrated the launch of Undocumental — a “new forum for illegalized people around the world” — at Berkeley Law this fall with presentations by founder and Jurisprudence and Social Policy doctoral student Joel Sati and an editorial team of academics and journalists from around the country.

“A project like this has the possibility of becoming the academic voice of the illegalized community,” explained Rafael Martinez, editor-at-large of Undocumental, and doctoral student in American Studies at the University of New Mexico.

Sati, the publication’s founder and executive editor, said that while other publications…


Watch this video about the publication!

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The Undocumental team is together on the publication’s launch night at UC Berkeley School of Law in Berkeley, California. (Photo by Monica Haulman.)

UC Berkeley celebrated the launch of Undocumental — a “new forum for illegalized people around the world”—with presentations by founder and Jurisprudence and Social Policy doctoral student Joel Sati and an editorial team of academics and journalists from around the country at an event in November.

“A project like this has the possibility of becoming the academic voice of the illegalized community,” explained Rafael Martinez, editor-at-large of Undocumental, and doctoral student in American Studies at the University of New Mexico.

Sati, the publication’s founder and executive editor, said that while other publications focus on…


Bellagio Workshop Examines Open Source Information as Evidence

War crimes investigations increasingly rely on open source information — videos, photos, and social media posts that are publicly accessible on the internet — as potential sources of evidence. When tribunal investigators, human rights activists, and students in human rights investigations labs like Berkeley’s handle such information, how should it be discovered, archived, and verified to ensure its admissibility and greatest possible weight in court?

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With funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Human Rights Center at UC Berkeley School of Law, brought investigators, scholars, technologists, and human rights activists to Bellagio, Italy…


UC Berkeley’s Human Rights Center and Amnesty International will co-host the first international summit of students who are pioneering the use of open source methods to investigate human rights violations and war crimes on June 26–29 at UC Berkeley.

Twenty-five students from the University of Pretoria, University of Essex, University of Toronto, and UC Berkeley — part of Amnesty International’s Digital Verification Corps — who have spent the year analyzing social media and other online sources to document and verify alleged crimes in Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Democratic Republic of Congo, the United States, and conflict zones around the world will…


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Gavin Sheridan was ahead of the curve as one of Ireland’s first bloggers in 2002 when he wrote about “anything and everything” in Gavin’s Blog. He’s remained on the cusp ever since, innovating at the nexus of tech and journalism — motivated by the idea that free-flowing information contributes to democracy. He was in on the early days of Storyful, considered the first social media news agency, and he has pioneered the uses of Freedom of Information Acts (FOIA) around the world. Now he’s trying, through his startup Vizlegal, to do for law what he did for journalism. …

Andrea Lampros

Writer, editor, communications director at the Human Rights Center, resiliency manager of the Human Rights Investigations Lab, UC Berkeley

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