From 2 - 9 June 2012, EngageMedia and WITNESS co-hosted a video4change retreat and sprint attended by 13 other organisations doing work in the area of using video for social change. These included the following organisations:
- Small World News
- Video Volunteers
- Digital Democracy
- Kampung Halaman
- MIT Center for Civic Media
- Tactical Technology Collective
- Organisation for Visual Progression
- Pusat KOMAS
There were two parts to the gathering: the first four days (from 2 - 5 June) were devoted to a retreat, where we discussed different video4change issues, challenges, experiences, needs and collaboration ideas; the last three days (from 7 - 9 June) were spent working in teams to develop materials that the group saw as gaps in resources.
video4change is More than a Video Camera
One of the highlights was to witness the breadth and depth of how video could be used to contribute to social change. The participating organisations had different approaches and theories of change in using video for change. Some organisations use participatory video as way to bring communities together, some use video to document human rights abuses in order to make significant policy changes and to raise awareness on the realities communities are facing, and some use video to support community and citizen journalism to increase people's ability to represent themselves and their issues. This range of experiences contributed to being able to defining video4change.
During the sprint, there was group working on assessing the impact of video on social change and they defined video4change tactics as more than a video camera. It is a:
- Magnet: Pulling people together, engaging them in a process and strengthening groups
- Stethoscope: Listening to the pulse of the situation or community, a reality check, connecting with the heart and emotion behind the issues
- Loudspeaker / Megaphone: Amplifying voices; a mouse with a megaphone is like a lion!
- Transporter: Enabling people to travel through space, connecting people who might never meet, creating dialogue between disparate communities
- Brain: Recording events, commitments or actions; creating memories that can be passed across generations; collecting local knowledge and creating an archive of human experience
- Torch: helping people look deeper into a problem and illuminating not only the issues but also the people involved
- Spotlight: Shine light on groups or issues that have been marginalised
- Spark / Catalyst / Match: Ignite action, spark conversation and discussion
- Mirror: Reflecting back to yourself, see the community form a new perspective, a way to reflect one what is good and what they want to change
- Eye: The camera has no judgment, it records merely what is in front of it, eye witness
- Ear: An ear, an objective ear that listens without interrupting, hear how people want to be represented
- Voice box: A collection of different voices together into one space
- Compass: Allow communities to find direction, vision on how you want to move forward
Being able to define video4change is such succinct, concise and clear points would not have been possible without the breadth of experiences present in the retreat.
Mapping Materials and Gaps
Another highlight was being able to start mapping the video4change resources and materials. We held an exercise where people filled out matrices on the different video production processes:
- Strategy and Planning
- Post-production: editing
- Distribution and Engagement
- Building Tools
- Media Management
- Online and Self-directed Learning
We then asked each participating organisation to fill out the matrices based on which areas they were training in and developing resources on. The result was a quick glance of the areas where the participating organisations have developed expertise on and what the gaps were in terms of expertise and materials.
While there are sufficient materials, guides and resources for the Strategy and Planning and Pre-production, the other areas will need more materials developed. Specifically in:
- updating existing materials
- expanding whatever is available and moving beyond 'tips'
- ensuring that the materials are in plain language for a broader audience
- providing case studies / examples of successful strategies per topic
- pointing to specific tools, if possible
video4change Collaboration Ideas
Another highlight was starting to build a trusted network. Although discussions on building a formal video4change network were put on hold until we are able to bring other voices and groups into the fold and until there is a more concrete need for such a network, the participants agreed and committed to working together in the future. Initial ideas for collaboration include:
- using v4c.org to share and blog about materials / guides / resources that the participating organisations have produced
- trainers exchange, where organisations will contribute towards getting trainers from other participating organisations to attend and assist in the organisation's training workshops in order to learn from each other's areas of expertise
- collectively promote each other's work through organisational blogs and v4c.org
Room for Improvement
Everyone in the retreat was well aware there was a lot of room for improvement. For one, since this was the first of its kind, the agenda that we (WITNESS and EngageMedia) had designed was packed! We felt that we needed to go through a series of topics ranging from different training pedagogy to safety, ethics and security issues to skill-sharing to new challenges and trends in video4change to fundraising. But all in all, the folks that attended the retreat and the sprint were patient enough to go through the entire agenda. Perhaps, if there is ever another of these gatherings, the agenda may not be as broad.
For another, there are so many voices still to include in gatherings like these. Expanding the participating organisations and individuals, ensuring that regions are well-represented and ensuring (more importantly) that other experiences in video4change are included will definitely be things that need to be considered if there is such another event.
There is definitely interest from the participants to hold something like this again. Hopefully, we can organise a second (and third and fourth ...) video4change gathering again. Because, if the results yielded are even just half of what the first one has achieved, then it will be well worth the effort of organising another one.
EngageMedia and WITNESS as the organising groups for the gathering will definitely have a lot to follow up on to ensure that the momentum gained in the retreat and the sprint is not lost. We will keep this blog posted on further activities and developments that will happen with the participating organisations of the video4change retreat.
EngageMedia, MalaysiaKini, CJMY, and The Online Citizen host first citizen journalism and online subtitling workshop in Singapore
Over a weekend in June, four Southeast Asian new media organisations partnered to host the first ever citizen journalism and online subtitling workshop in Singapore.
This is also EngageMedia's second event held in the island-state, the first being held in June 2010. This is also our first collaboration with The Online Citizen (TOC), one of Singapore's leading online media organisations.
Citizen Journalists Malaysia's (CJMY) citizen journalism programme was initiated with MalaysiaKini's support 3 years ago. It is now the leading programme of it's kind in the region, having cultivated citizen journalists in various countries including Burma, Nepal, and Thailand.
This landmark training in Singapore saw 13 Singaporeans learning about the basics and essentials of news reporting in writing, photography, and video from MalaysiaKini and CJMY.
After a presentation on EngageMedia's work, I held a session on online subtitling with Amara on the first evening using videos from TOC. Participants found the system to be simple and convenient to use, and more TOC videos subtitled by them will be featured on our website in the months ahead.
A closing discussion session between all our organisations provided better understandings of how we can collaborate further in the future. MalaysiaKini, CJMY, and The Online Citizen also thanked EngageMedia for bridging and bringing them together.
For the Lingua programme, this event leads straight into a series of workshops and presentations in Thailand in the first half of July, so look out for news and updates from it soon!
If you'd like to join in all the subtitling and translation fun, join the EngageMedia team page and Facebook group to help make important stories from the Asia Pacific more accessible to the world.
A recently-launched website, korupedia.org, is acting as an online reference tool on the history of corruption, most controversially, by naming Indonesia's corruptors, convicted under one of Indonesia's many anti-corruption or anti-bribery laws. The website was produced by a coalition of prominent anti corruption figures and NGOs as well as one of EngageMedia's ongoing partners AirPutih, (airputih.or.id). They have gathered background information about individuals convicted of corruption across Indonesia. Every corruption case is shown as a red dot on the map, not surprisingly with a high concentration on the island of Java. You can zoom it for more detailed information.
Activists said that this website will help educate people by providing more data and knowledge about corruption. As there is not enough awareness of corruption cases in Indonesia, many of these corrupt politicians are planning to run in the 2014 national elections... as if nothing happened.
by Jac sm Kee
First published at loyarburuk
The amended act is deeply problematic at several levels and directly counters fundamental democratic principles. This does not bode well for democracy in Malaysia, and voting Malaysians should take heed of such a move as a further sign of things to come, if the government persists in dismantling safeguards to our civil liberties and fundamental human rights.
Innocent until proven guilty
At the most basic level, the newly introduced Section 114(A) to the Evidence (Amendment) (No 2) Act 2012* has the impact of removing the critical presumption of innocence principle, which is at the cornerstone of our criminal justice system. This principle protects individuals against wrongful conviction, by ensuring that everyone has access to a fair trial. It also upholds the ideal that every person is a law abiding citizen until proven otherwise, and provides an important safeguard against abuse of power by the government to persecute individuals by requiring any allegations to be proven beyond reasonable doubt.
If this amended law were to take effect, all 17 million internet users in Malaysia who post anything online – from emails to comments to status updates – will exist in a state of presumed illegality. Instead of being law abiding citizens, we are all instead assumed to be criminals unless we can prove otherwise. A law that seeks to remove such a fundamental protection to our civil liberties cannot be made under the arguments of expediency, and definitely without extensive and well-considered debate which takes into account public interest and participation.
Punishing the victims
Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz from the Prime Minister’s Department justified the need for such an amendment to overcome the difficulty of anonymity and pseudonyms in cybercrime cases. First of all, it is important to clarify what is meant by cyber crime. Under the Computer Crimes Act 1997, the offences cited are unauthorised access to computers (for example, hacking into someone’s computer or account), including for the purposes of committing another offence (e.g. fraud), unauthorised modification of content (e.g. installing spyware or changing any kind of data) and wrongful communication of passwords. It is clear from here that the main forms of cyber crimes involve someone else taking control of your equipment and making changes to your content, programmes or data.
So who does the amendment protect in cases of cyber crime? These amendments, in fact, allow hackers and cyber criminals to go scot-free by making the person – whose computer or account is hacked – liable for any content which might have been altered. Given that more than 600,000 Facebook accounts are hacked daily, this Act not only disproportionately impinges upon a large majority of internet users in Malaysia, it is also inherently flawed in logic and provides for a serious miscarriage of justice.
For example, in the increasingly familiar cases of online harassment - where women and girls find their names and images being posted on sites under fake accounts created by stalkers and harassers – the newly amended Evidence Act does not help them in attaining redress or justice. In fact, it places an additional burden on them to prove their innocence and re-victimises the actual victims of cybercrimes.
In fact, the more skilled you are at hacking, the more the law protects you by assuming that the party you hacked is guilty of the offence. For example, if I want an easy way to give trouble to someone I dislike, I can simply create an account in his or her name, and post all kinds of problematic content – like hate speech, or threats to bomb the Parliament, for example. Under the new section in the amended act, this person would be automatically held liable and – provided I’m smart enough to hide my actual IP address – I can actually get away scot-free. It does not address the issue of anonymity, and it only acts to punish potential victims.
Anonymity a key principle of an open internet
Freedom from surveillance and protection of an individual’s right to privacy is one of the grounding principles of a free and open internet framed on fundamental human rights. This includes the ability to be anonymous online, and to use encryption software should one choose to do so. In many instances, anonymity is an important safeguard for vulnerable or marginalised individuals. For example, women who are in situations of domestic violence need to be able to post calls for support without putting themselves at further risk by publishing their name or other identifiable information. It also promotes transparency and accountability in democratic governance by protecting whistleblowers against persecution by authorities for bringing to attention abuses of power.
If the government of Malaysia is committed to democratic deliberations, transparency and accountability, any proposed measure to remove the principle of anonymity online needs to be examined and debated critically, and potential violations to our human rights cannot be simply waved aside to make the job of police authorities easier.
Violating fundamental human rights
Finally, as a member of the Human Rights Council (HRC), Malaysia has an obligation to (a) “to uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights” and (b) to “fully cooperate with the Council.” At the May 2011 Human Rights Council session, the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Opinion, Mr Frank La Rue, presented a report on the internet which states that, “The Internet is one of the most powerful instruments of the 21st century for increasing transparency in the conduct of the powerful, access to information, and for facilitating active citizen participation in building democratic societies. As such, facilitating access to the Internet for all individuals, with as little restriction to online content as possible, should be a priority for all States.”
He further recommends against the criminalisation of legitimate expression, and making internet intermediaries (including parties that provide online community forums, blogging and hosting services) liable for content that is published through its services. This is because such measures will result in a “chilling effect”, encouraging self-censorship and surveillance practices.
The amendments to the Evidence Act clearly run against these recommendations by placing blanket assumptions of criminal liability upon all internet users who use the internet for information exchange and expression, including those who host websites which allow for interaction with users, e.g. comment boxes. This law will promote a feeling of fear amongst internet users and result in occurrences such as website owners removing comment functions – which is a key characteristic of the internet today as a vibrant, interactive public space for democratic deliberations.
As a member of the HRC, the government has an obligation to develop measures to promote free and open access and use of the internet for expression, information exchange and democratic participation and debate. Not enact laws that will place undue and disproportionate burdens on the ordinary Malaysian public from engaging with the space.
The newly amended Evidence Act is bad law. It adds to the string of other recently passed Acts such as the Peaceful Assembly Act – which only acts to remove critical safeguards to civil liberties. If the government of Malaysia is truly committed to principles of democracy, justice, due process and fundamental human rights, it needs to demonstrate this clearly by immediately taking steps to ensure that these laws do not become an everyday battle for us Malaysians to contend with, in the exercise of our citizenship rights.
* The newly included Section 114A provides that:
– a person whose name, photograph or pseudonym appears on any publication depicting himself as the owner, host, administrator, editor or sub-editor, or who in any manner facilitates to publish or re-publish the publication is presumed to have published or re-published the contents of the publication unless the contrary is proved.
– a person who is registered with a network service provider as a subscriber of a network service on which any publication originates from is presumed to be the person who published or re-published the publication unless the contrary is proved.
– Any person who has in his custody or control any computer on which any publication originates from is presumed to have published or re-published the content of the publication unless the contrary is proved. (Computer here means any data processing device, including tablets, laptops and mobile phones.)
From The Sun news report, “Internet users cry foul over amendment to Evidence Act“, 21 May 2012