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Citizen Investigation Basics – Uncovering Evidence Securely

Course instructor: Laura Ranca

Format: Long workshop

Interval: August 11-13, 2019 (3 days, 6h/day)

Level: Introductory

Disciplines: Investigation, research, activism

Audience: The workshop addresses all those who are curious and motivated to learn and practice techniques and tools for uncovering information online and offline, understand the key ingredients of a good investigation, and explore ways to verify information before consuming it or sharing it with others. No previous knowledge required. A basic understanding of general online research will help, plus a high dose of curiosity and dedication to uncovering hidden information treasures.

Course description:

The workshop will include introductory concepts, techniques, tactics and tools useful tot anyone wishing to learn the basics of how to conduct an investigation – whether you want to uncover ‘hidden’ information on the internet, investigate a local company doing suspicious activities in your area, or verify the source of images and information spread online. We will focus on evidence discovery, data collection online and offline, as well as related digital and physical safety considerations. Participants will also test some of the methods and tools themselves through team work and investigation challenges.

We will work with sources of publicly available data and explore useful digital platforms, databases and other resources. Cases, examples and exercises will cover topics such as researching information about product supply chains; creating profiles of companies; revealing geolocation, metadata and other useful information from images; uncovering hidden information from websites or recovering seemingly lost information from the internet.

We will also look at the risks and vulnerabilities that are specific to the investigative work, address questions concerning digital and field research needs, and look at viable solutions to protect the safety of researchers, their data and sources.

The workshop will include several hands-on tasks and investigation challenges that may require internet access. Participants can bring laptops, tablets or smart-phones to practice some of the tools and resources we will address. We will combine indoors presentations and work with  several ‘field’ (outside) activities.

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