User Safety

How does eyeWitness protect the security of the app users?

There are always risks involved with documenting human rights abuses. There is not only danger from the user’s proximity to a volatile situation, but also the risk of arrest or other repercussions from authorities who do not want information about their actions to be publicised. No technology can completely eliminate those risks. However, we believe that the security of our users is of utmost importance. Therefore, our app incorporates features for promoting the safety of the user. Nonetheless, each user is best placed to understand the risks involved with owning and using the app depending on his/her specific situation and must exercise proper caution, even if that means not collecting footage.

What are the app security features?

The app design incorporates a number of safety features:

  1. 1. The user can select his/her own icon. This feature should decrease – although not eliminate – the ability of others to identify the app icon as eyeWitness.
  2. 2. The app stores all footage in a secure storage area within the app, not the standard device gallery. The secure storage area can only be accessed with a passcode swipe created by the user.
  3. 3. The user can immediately exit the app’s secure storage area by clicking the camera icon in the top menu bar. In many devices, once the user has exited the secure storage area, there is no visible indication of its existence on the screen. However, each user should conduct a thorough check of his/her device widget bar and other locations on the device that show what apps are running to determine whether there is any information that might alert others to the secure gallery. For example, the user should check if the widget bar displays a thumbnail image of the secure gallery.
  4. 4. The user can delete the app and its contents if arrest or confiscation of the device appears imminent. This process takes three clicks. Deleted content cannot be recovered. If the images have not already been sent to eyeWitness, they are permanently lost. The user should be aware that even if the app is deleted, bits of encrypted files will remain on the device.
  5. 5. The images, metadata, and annotations are stored and sent in encrypted format.

What steps should the user take before using the app?

Only you know the risks involved with owning and using the app depending on your specific situation, and you must therefore exercise proper caution. Before using the app, we recommend that you should:

  1. Conduct a thorough review of the security features and understand how to quickly exit the secure gallery and delete the app. This process may vary by type of device;
  2. Conduct a thorough review to determine whether the secure gallery, even when closed, is still visible anywhere on the user’s device;
  3. Conduct a thorough review to determine if the app appears in any settings menus, download history, or other lists;
  4. Consider the benefits and risks of filming and determine whether the filming should proceed.

How do I delete the app in an emergency?

The “Dispose” option is the self-destruct feature. Selecting it will delete the app and all of its contents. The “Dispose” option can be found in the menu in the camera view or in the secure gallery. The menu is indicated by the icon with three vertical dots. You will be asked to confirm that you want to delete the app. Therefore, the delete feature requires three steps.
Any images not already sent to eyeWitness will be lost and cannot be recovered. Users should be aware that even after the app is deleted, bits of encrypted information will remain on the device.

What if I want to use my phone for personal purposes, like taking a family photo?

The photos and videos taken with the eyeWitness app must be sent to eyeWitness before you can save them or share them. Therefore, the app should not be used for personal photos or videos. It is not intended to replace your regular camera for personal use.
If you have further questions please contact us at general@eyewitnessproject.org or call +44 (0) 3300 240789