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Strong Crypto Safeguards Human Rights Data

Strong cryptography can safeguard critical human rights data from repressive governments that steal data in order to persecute citizens. When vulnerable citizens dare to bear witness by naming perpetrators, their crimes, and their victims, the sensitive identifying information about those witnesses must be protected. In the late 1990s, HRDAG’s Director of Research, Patrick Ball, began his work with encrypted data while documenting crimes committed by the Guatemalan national police—and strong cryptography has remained critical to all of HRDAG’s work. hr {border-width:20px;} .main-container p a{color:#f98d00 !important;} h2 {font-we...

Deportation Possible for El Salvador’s Gen. García – Supported by HRDAG Analysis

Gen. José Guillermo García, El Salvador’s defense minister from 1979 to 1983, may be deported from Florida to El Salvador because of his involvement in war crimes that occurred under his command. The recommendation comes from a Miami immigration judge, whose decision was supported with expert testimony from Stanford political science professor Terry Karl, who presented extensive statistical analysis of killings, disappearances, kidnappings, torture and other crimes under Gen. García’s watch. The statistical analysis was a joint effort between Professor Karl and Amelia Hoover Green and Patrick Ball of Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG). ...

12 Questions about Using Data Analysis to Bring Guatemalan War Criminals to Justice

When people talk about war criminals in Guatemala, which war are they talking about? They’re talking about the Guatemalan civil war, which began in 1960 and ended in 1996. That’s thirty-six years of civil war. Even though it ended almost two decades ago, Guatemala is still recovering from it. At its simplest, this civil war story was right-wing government forces fighting leftist rebels. But it went deeper than that, of course. The majority of the rebel forces was composed of indigenous peoples, primarily the Maya, (more…)

Press Release, Timor-Leste, February 2006

SILICON VALLEY GROUP USES TECHNOLOGY TO HELP THE TRUTH COMMISSION ANSWER DISPUTED QUESTIONS ABOUT MASSIVE POLITICAL VIOLENCE IN TIMOR-LESTE Palo Alto, CA, February 9, 2006 – The Benetech® Initiative today released a statistical report detailing widespread and systematic violations in Timor-Leste during the period 1974-1999. Benetech's statistical analysis establishes that at least 102,800 (+/- 11,000) Timorese died as a result of the conflict. Approximately 18,600 (+/- 1000) Timorese were killed or disappeared, while the remainder died due to hunger and illness in excess of what would be expected due to peacetime mortality. The magnitude of deaths ...

FAQs on Predictive Policing and Bias

Last month Significance magazine published an article on the topic of predictive policing and police bias, which I co-authored with William Isaac. Since then, we've published a blogpost about it and fielded a few recurring questions. Here they are, along with our responses. Do your findings still apply given that PredPol uses crime reports rather than arrests as training data? Because this article was meant for an audience that is not necessarily well-versed in criminal justice data and we were under a strict word limit, we simplified language in describing the data. The data we used is a version of the Oakland Police Department’s crime report...

Counting the Dead in Sri Lanka

ITJP and HRDAG are urging groups inside and outside Sri Lanka to share existing casualty lists.

Covid-19 Research and Resources

HRDAG is identifying and interpreting the best science we can find to shed light on the global crisis brought on by the novel coronavirus, about which we still know so little. Right now, most of the data on the virus SARS-CoV-2 and Covid-19, the condition caused by the virus, are incomplete and unrepresentative, which means that there is a great deal of uncertainty. But making sense of imperfect datasets is what we do. HRDAG is contributing to a better understanding with explainers, essays, and original research, and we are highlighting trustworthy resources for those who want to dig deeper. Papers and articles by HRDAG .ugb-bbeb275 .ugb-blo...

Estimating the Number of SARS-CoV-2 Infections and the Impact of Mitigation Policies

This Harvard Data Science Review article uses the least unreliable source of pandemic data: reported deaths.

Download: Megan Price

nyt_square_logoExecutive director Megan Price is interviewed in The New York Times’ Sunday Review, as part of a series known as “Download,” which features a biosketch of “Influencers and their interests.”


Kriege und Social Media: Die Daten sind nicht perfekt

Suddeutsche Zeitung writer Mirjam Hauck interviewed HRDAG affiliate Anita Gohdes about the pitfalls of relying on social media data when interpreting violence in the context of war. This article, “Kriege und Social Media: Die Daten sind nicht perfekt,” is in German.


Experts Greet Kosovo Memory Book

On Wednesday, February 4, in Pristina, international experts praised the Humanitarian Law Centre’s database on victims of the Kosovo conflict, the Kosovo Memory Book. HRDAG executive director Patrick Ball is quoted in the article that appeared in Balkan Transitional Justice.


Civil War in Syria: The Internet as a Weapon of War

Suddeutsche Zeitung writer Hakan Tanriverdi interviews HRDAG affiliate Anita Gohdes and writes about her work on the Syrian casualty enumeration project for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. This article, “Bürgerkrieg in Syrien: Das Internet als Kriegswaffe,” is in German.


Data and Social Good: Using Data Science to Improve Lives, Fight Injustice, and Support Democracy

100x100-oreillymedia-logoIn this free, downloadable report, Mike Barlow of O’Reilly Media cites several examples of how data and the work of data scientists have made a measurable impact on organizations such as DataKind, a group that connects socially minded data scientists with organizations working to address critical humanitarian issues. HRDAG—and executive director Megan Price—is one of the first organizations whose work is mentioned.


Recent Talks


Data-driven development needs both social and computer scientists

Excerpt:

Data scientists are programmers who ignore probability but like pretty graphs, said Patrick Ball, a statistician and human rights advocate who cofounded the Human Rights Data Analysis Group.

“Data is broken,” Ball said. “Anyone who thinks they’re going to use big data to solve a problem is already on the path to fantasy land.”


The Case Against a Golden Key

Patrick Ball (2016). The case against a golden key. Foreign Affairs. September 14, 2016.  ©2016 Council on Foreign Relations, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Patrick Ball (2016). The case against a golden key. Foreign Affairs. September 14, 2016.  ©2016 Council on Foreign Relations, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Can ‘predictive policing’ prevent crime before it happens?

100x100-sciencemagHRDAG analyst William Isaac is quoted in this article about so-called crime prediction. “They’re not predicting the future. What they’re actually predicting is where the next recorded police observations are going to occur.”


Inside Syria’s prisons, where an estimated 17,723 have died since 2011

100x100-cnnExcerpt from the article: The estimate is based on reports from four organizations investigating deaths in Syria from March 15, 2011, to December, 31, 2015. From those cases, the Human Rights Data Analysis Group identified 12,270 cases with sufficient information to confirm the person was killed in detention. Using a statistical method to estimate how many victims they do not yet know about, the group came up with 17,723 cases.


Syria’s status, the migrant crisis and talking to ISIS

In this week’s “Top Picks,” IRIN interviews HRDAG executive director Patrick Ball about giant data sets and whether we can trust them. “No matter how big it is, data on violence is always partial,” he says.


Predictive policing violates more than it protects

William Isaac and Kristian Lum. Predictive policing violates more than it protects. USA Today. December 2, 2016. © USA Today.

William Isaac and Kristian Lum. Predictive policing violates more than it protects. USA Today. December 2, 2016. © USA Today.


Our work has been used by truth commissions, international criminal tribunals, and non-governmental human rights organizations. We have worked with partners on projects on five continents.

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