The first submission to its kind to the ICC – and the future of the Toolkit
A few things have happened since I announced v.0.11 of the Toolkit, in early March. Now is as good a time as any to take stock of where this newsletter/Substack publication will be headed.
First, I’m delighted to finally announce I’m now Director of Special Projects at Stanford/USC Starling Lab. That’s what the website blurb says about the Lab:
The Starling Lab is an academic research lab innovating with the latest cryptographic methods and decentralized web protocols to meet the technical and ethical challenges of establishing trust in our most sensitive digital records.
Starling uses open-source tools, best practices, and case studies to securely capture, store and verify digital content. With applications across news media, historical preservation and legal accountability, the potential use cases for the Starling Framework are numerous.
The fit between the Toolkit and the Lab was obvious from our first conversations, and I look forward to continuing the research I started last year with the Toolkit under the umbrella of these prestigious institutions.
I feel a little vindicated to have found a group of folks who also think not only of this type of data, but also along the lines of demonstration of chain of custody (preserve integrity and prove all access, hello web3 tokens), self-identifiable and -addressable data (it’s called CID in Dweb world, apparently), and durable storage ideas (thanks to the deep experience building on decentralised web tech in the Lab).
Second, top of my list of responsibilities right now is obviously Ukraine. At the weekend, we filed an official submission to the International Criminal Court’s Office of the Prosecutor and launched the Dokaz project (“proof,” in Ukrainian).
That legal submission was a joint effort between us, Hala Systems and the Atlantic Council’s DFRLab, and rests on a series of attacks against schools in Kharkiv, which took place in early March 2022. The crime we allege is the deliberate destruction of protected civilian objects, a crime disproportionately affecting children. This focus brings state-of-the-art tools to document crimes that are under-investigated and under-prosecuted in courts worldwide, against one of the world’s most vulnerable groups.
Last year, when I was developing the Toolkit, my coach Simon asked me what this project’s North Star was. “Hmm,” I thought, “I guess that this software should be used in a formal ICC submission. That’s a grand enough moonshot for me.”
Well, just a year later I feel I kept looking at this North Star, which guided my choice when things became real with Stanford. It’s not the Toolkit backing this submission – but I look up to the Starling Framework stack that my colleagues built as what the Toolkit could have been.
And I feel privileged to be in a position to participate to where it goes next.
CNN has all the details about how original this submission is: Exclusive: A crypto-based dossier could help prove Russia committed war crimes
So, two messages:
One: 50% of the funds raised for this project are earmarked for Ukrainians, so here’s a request: if you’re an OSINT analysis, a researcher with legal chops, or an enfineer curious about the decentralised web – be in touch. basile at starling lab dot org.
Two: I’m not yet sure what will happen to the Toolkit and to this newsletter. I relied on my conversations with some of you so much to shape what I did that I’d like to hear from you again. As above: basile at starling lab dot org.
Until then, 👋