Alexa Koenig

UC Berkeley students work to authenticate photos, videos from conflict zones

Alexa Koenig quoted by ABC 7 News, July 13, 2017

“For example, if there is a mosque that we can see, we can locate that mosque through satellite imagery to establish that the town where this was supposedly taken is, in fact, that town. If it’s authentic, it’ll be archived as a factual record to be used by human rights groups,” said Alexa Koenig.

As ‘fake news’ flies, UC Berkeley students verify and document

Alexa Koenig quoted by East Bay Times, June 27, 2017

In the last decade or so, there’s been a proliferation of smartphones, said Alexa Koenig, executive director of Berkeley’s Human Rights Center and co-manager of the school’s investigations lab. That lets everyone be a human rights investigator but it also creates space for lots of misinformation and a need for what has come to be known as digital verification.

UC Berkeley program seeks to help prosecute war criminals

Alexa Koenig and Eric Stover quoted by San Francisco Chronicle, April 14, 2017

“The front-line people who capture images of what’s happening, they tend to focus on the body or where the bomb hit — they don’t realize that’s actually the least helpful info for courts,” said Koenig. “What the courts need is the 360-degree pan shot of the surrounding area to place what happened in a particular location. Or they need information that might seem irrelevant, like the angle something came from, or a shot of a newspaper that establishes the date.”

“Alleged perpetrators are leaving more fingerprints in various places. They’re leaving fingerprints behind the cyber curtain, meaning, they’re going on email, they’re sending messages to their subordinates, they’re filming things,” said Eric Stover, faculty director of the Human Rights Center.

The authoritarian and his followers

Alexa Koenig quoted by, April 11, 2017

Koenig’s warning rang clear in the Umbrian air: “Authoritarians do not rely on mass popular support. They rely on mass passiveness, [on] passivity.”

A new generation of human rights investigators turns to high-tech methods

Alexa Koenig interviewed by PBS Newshour, Feb. 13, 2017

One of the biggest hurdles about using these new methods is that they are so new. … One of the things we’re hoping to do for kind of investing in the long-term use of these methods is just begin to build an international standard for how to evaluate what constitutes an effective and a good investigation.

Human rights squad detects abuse in warzone social media images

Andrea Lampros and Alexa Koenig quoted by New Scientist, Nov. 11, 2016

“The use of smartphones has basically proliferated, and so too has the amount of potential evidence. But the actual verification of that is critical,” says Andrea Lampros at the University of California, Berkeley’s Human Rights Center (HRC). “That’s what makes it valid and usable—and that requires a tremendous amount of people power. We can help sift through those vast amounts of material and make them really useful to human rights groups and, potentially, courts.”

At the HRC, corps members are also trying to  gather evidence in support of ongoing human rights cases. “Lawyers are beginning to realise the value of doing research through publicly available information for legally related purposes, but when you’re talking about actually trying to bring that information into court as evidence, there are additional considerations,” says Alexa Koenig at the HRC.

Prosecuting war criminals in the era of the war on terror

Eric Stover and Alexa Koenig interviewed by KQED-FM, July 29, 2016

Eric Stover: “Before you can have a trial, you actually need to have an accused. So, how do you go after those war crime suspects? And when you look at the post-9/11 environment, going after suspected terrorists, how did the United States conduct that pursuit? And was it illegal?”

Alexa Koenig: “How do you actually muster the political will to have countries aid and search for these individuals, or when they are–as our book is called–hiding in plain sight, when they’re right in front of us? How do you break down the political protections around them to make them vulnerable enough to get them into courts?”