Using the App

How can I capture metadata?

To capture the time, date, location and pixel count, switch the eyeWitness app to secure mode. Press the corner of the app camera screen until it turns blue. Now everything you film will include metadata and be stored in the app’s secure gallery.

How do I keep a copy of my photos and videos?

You can save your own images to share or use however you wish. First you need to upload the image to the eyeWitness secure server. The server acts as a virtual evidence locker protecting the chain of custody for the original image, for use by investigation teams and/or courts. After sending the image to eyeWitness, you may open the image and select “share” from the menu. This allows you to save the image to your regular phone gallery. If the authenticity of the image is later challenged, you can contact eyeWitness to verify the metadata using the original copy safeguarded in our server.

What if the user does not want to be identified? How do you ensure user anonymity?

We give the users of our app the option to provide contact information or remain anonymous. Contact information could be helpful to future investigations, but the user must understand that this information could potentially be turned over to all parties to a legal case. If the user chooses anonymity, the footage remains verifiable using hash value and the metadata sent with the images.
We do not collect any information about your device that could personally identify you as the user. Nor do we collect the IP address from which our users have sent the footage.

Can I get my images back if I delete them or lose my phone?

eyeWitness is not an account style service.  Individual users cannot access or retrieve the images they submit to the eyeWitness server.  If you delete images, uninstall the app or your phone is damaged or lost, eyeWitness will not be able to provide a copy of your information.  If you are working for an organisation that has a partnership with eyeWitness, your ability to obtain a copy of any lost images will be explained in the partnership agreement. This is to protect users’ security.

What operating systems is the eyeWitness app compatible with?

The initial release of the app was designed for Android devices, because Android has the largest share of the market for global sales. eyeWitness will continue to consider the feasibility of making the app available on other platforms.

Has the app been evaluated for security?

eyeWitness regularly submits the app to professional penetration and vulnerability tests by accredited companies. Vulnerability tests identify security vulnerabilities in an environment, whilst penetration tests simulate a cyber-attack that aims to gain access to sensitive information. The purpose of these tests is to ensure that the app reflects the current best practices to prevent manipulation of the information and protect the safety of our users.

How does the eyeWitness app work?

The app is simple to download, and makes it easy to capture and send footage directly from a portable device. Instructions are also available within the app by selecting “About” from the menu in the secure gallery.

Go to the eyeWitness YouTube channel to see an instructional video in Spanish, French, Kirundi, Portuguese, Arabic, Russian, Burmese, Tamil and Singhalese.

The six images needed to set up the encryption key will not upload. What do I do?

The user must be connected to the internet when registering the app. Wait for each image to upload before taking the next one. If the internet connection is not strong enough, the images may not upload. You should check the strength of your internet connection. If you have any further issues, you may also contact our team via email:

Do I need to have location services turned on?

The most accurate information comes from the GPS satellite.  The app will only record this information if the user activates the location services feature (and satellite as a source, on some devices). These features can be found in the settings menu under Location Services on most Android devices. The general location of the image can also be determined from Wi-Fi and cell tower readings. When location services are activated, a geolocation icon appears in the top menu bar of most Android devices when the app is open. This icon may appear as a satellite, a target, or a map pin. This icon indicates when the device has achieved a satellite lock and is recording the geolocation coordinates.

Do I need to have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth turned on?

The app is designed to record neighbouring Wi-Fi addresses if present to help identify the location of the images. However, these settings must be activated to capture this information. The user should enable location services and Wi-Fi to capture the geolocation information.

Do I need to be connected to the internet to use the app?

You do not need to be connected to the internet when recording photos, videos, or audio with the app. None of the metadata capture requires internet access. You only need to be connected to the internet when downloading and registering the app or when sending images.

Where are the photos/videos taken with the eyeWitness app stored?

Images taken with the eyeWitness app in the secured mode (with a blue border) are stored in the app’s secure gallery. The user can access the secure gallery using the passcode swipe created during registration. To access the app’s secure storage, the user must open the camera settings using the menu icon when in the camera view and select Focus Grid. The user then enters the passcode swipe using the Focus Grid as a guide.

Images taken with the eyeWitness app in the unsecured mode (the default mode with a white border) are stored in the phone’s standard gallery. These images are not encrypted, do not contain the metadata, and cannot be sent to eyeWitness.

How do I add notes about the images?

You can add general notes to provide more explanation of the image by opening the image and selecting the icon with three straight, horizontal lines.  This action will open a keyboard for the user to type the notes.  The information will be saved automatically when you press the back button.

How do I tag specific individuals or objects?

To tag an item in a photo, video or audio recording, the user must select the “+” button in the lower menu bar. A blue tag icon will appear in the corner of the image. Press and hold the tag until it vibrates. At that point, you can move the tag to the correct location in the image. Pressing the tag again will open a questionnaire, and any information added will be saved automatically by pressing the back button. All tags in a video or audio file will be time stamped.

How do I save the information added as notes or tags?

The information is saved automatically when the user closes the annotation screen. To close the annotation screen, press the back button on the device.

How do I delete a tag?

When in the tag questionnaire screen, select “Delete” from the menu bar at the top. This action will trigger a dialogue box asking if you would like to delete the pin. Select “yes” to delete.

How do I move a tag?

Once positioned, a tag cannot be moved on some devices. In these cases, you must delete the tag and add a new one in the proper location.  Otherwise, you can press the tag and drag it to the correct location.

Can I send additional information about the photos/videos after sending them to eyeWitness?

Yes, you can add information about an image, using the notes and tagging features, and resend the file. The server will recognise the new information as related to the initial image and attach it.

How do I send a photo/video to eyeWitness?

To send an image, you must enter the secure gallery using your secret passcode swipe. Once in the gallery, select the image(s) to be sent by a long press on each until it is highlighted in blue. Then press the arrow icon in the top menu bar. The files are then sent encrypted.

How do I know if eyeWitness received the image?

A small green checkmark will appear below the thumbnail in the secure gallery once the images have been received. If the uploading progress bar disappears, and there is no green checkmark, the file has not been received.

Can I send photo/videos to eyeWitness from my device’s standard gallery?

No, only images taken in the secure mode and stored in the app’s secured gallery can be sent to eyeWitness. For this reason, it is very important to make sure the camera is in secure mode (with a blue border) when recording images related to atrocity crimes.

Do the images upload automatically when I am connected to the internet?

No, you must upload the images manually. The app requires a manual upload so that the user can make sure he/she is in a safe location where the upload will not raise any suspicion, and to allow the user to annotate the images before sending.

Why does the app limit the length of video I can record?

Because the images are stored and sent to eyeWitness in encrypted format, they need a substantial amount of storage space. To make sure there is enough available space and that the app performs reliably, the app limits the video size. The app will automatically stop recording if there is not enough space to save the encrypted version or if the video exceeds certain timeframes. These timeframes are 5 minutes for high quality video cameras, 10 minutes for medium quality, and 15 minutes for low quality.

How do I delete an image from the secure gallery?

You can delete an image by pressing on the image thumbnail until it is highlighted in blue, and then selecting the trash can icon. Alternatively, you can open the image and select “Delete” from the menu.

What does the “Dispose” option in the app menu do?

This option is the self-destruct feature. Selecting it will delete the app and all of its contents. 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 does the “Reset Secure Storage” option in the app menu do?

This option is a master delete for the entire app gallery. In the unlikely event the app stalls in compressing or uploading an image, the “Reset Secure Storage” option can be used to override the action. However, the deleted data cannot be recovered.

Is the app available in different languages?

The initial release of the eyeWitness app is available in English, Spanish, French, Arabic, Russian, and Portuguese (Brazilian). Upon installation, the app will detect the default language of the phone and install in that language. If the phone language is not one of the six, the app will default to English.

How do I change the app language?

The app detects the language setting of your device. If your device is set to one of the app languages, the app will install that language version. If your device is set to a language not supported by the app, the app will install in English. You must change your device language settings to change the language of the app.

Does the app work on web-enabled digital cameras?

The digital cameras currently on the market do not have the features required for the app to function.

How do I change the app icon?

You can change the app icon so that the app is more difficult to identify. The “Change App Icon” option is found in the menu when you are in the app’s secure gallery. The menu icon is indicated by three vertical dots in the top bar. You can select which icon you would like to appear in the device’s app list then press the back button to exit. The user must enter and exit the device app list twice for the new icon to appear.