An open-data probe into Dahua and Hikvision exposes how OEM sales tactics are on the rise amid growing ethical concerns over the business with surveillance firms linked to China’s human rights violations in Xinjiang.

In Europe, the US and Britain, it’s becoming trickier to detangle whether surveillance equipment is connected to human rights violations in Xinjiang — China’s surveillance and oppression of minorities in Xinjiang is well documented.

By selling to third parties which place their own brand labels on the equipment, companies mask the real origin and support companies’ profit footing the bill for more human rights violations.

It makes buying ethical surveillance equipment trickier for both private and public entities in the west, this news analysis finds.

Chinese surveillance makers Dahua and Hikvision, both very active overseas, have established links to the…

A simple #OSINT case study on how to geo-locate and chrono-locate video material in an Asian country like Myanmar 🇲🇲

The situation in Myanmar is deteriorating. Mobile phone video footage can provide journalists with important open-source evidence of what happens on the ground. But in order to trust it, we have to verify it first. Shocking videos surfaced in February after the coup when police decided to use live ammunition on unarmed protesters (Source: an analysis of videos by Amnesty International’s Crisis Evidence Lab).

Last week, I was asked to work on a training case study. The starting point was a video without a description. For the purpose of knowledge sharing, I’d like to provide my insight. It’s fairly basic…

Satellite images show evidence suggesting that Myanmar’s coup d’état increased the risk of unsustainable deforestation in the country. As western powers impose sanctions, the situation may be ripe for escalation. Experts say the military junta wants to make quick cash. China was observed as a buyer.

Image: Wikipedia/Dreamstime

The crackdown by the military government on unarmed protesters left many dead and the country in shambles. The military junta’s violent rule introduced on February 1 with a coup d’état bears other sad consequences, namely an increased risk for the environment.

Apart from the mass protests since the military seized control, there is new evidence emerging that under the new military’s rule, unsustainable deformation burgeoned. The main driver, according to experts, is quick profit-making, marked by illegal timber sales previously confiscated by the military.

Open-data confirms large-scale forest clearing even before the coup and the amount of clearing and felling…

Disinformation campaigns may use open data to cast false suspicion and doubt on events, risking fake narratives. Open data is a blessing for transparency but it can be a curse when users wrongly interpreted it. Here are strategies how to counteract.

Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP), Capella Space, April 13

The devil is in the details. The idiom also applies to open-source data and intelligence.

Last week’s attack on Iran’s Nuclear Enrichment Facility was reported as a blow to the country’s nuclear enrichment program. It’s a significant setback for the country.

The response came soon enough. Officials announced Iran would boost its nuclear activity and will up the uranium enriching level to 60 per cent purity.

Iran blames Israel for the attack and used the delicate term “nuclear terrorism”. A blackout and sabotage can be catastrophic to the processes of a nuclear enrichment plant, commentators noted.

The New York Times

New IR and SAR satellite data sources could make it harder for criminals and lawbreakers to hide and provide open-source intelligence and data journalists with new firepower.

SAR image by Capella Space

The right satellite images can be the ‘smoking gun’ in an investigation against mischief and wrongdoing. Our own investigations have proven the value of satellite data. Whether it’s images portraying crimes against humanity, severe environmental misconduct or just clues that something might go wrong for further verification, visual intelligence can be an essential mean to present a corpus delicti.

For my own investigations, this has proven to be highly effective. But there are caveats to conventional satellite data. Clouds constitute one major problem. They can cover at the wrong time an area of interest and miss the action. …

Open-source/OSINT data shows how the sector’s unethical marketing and promotion practices continue. It risks jeopardising the future of more ethical conservation efforts in South Africa.

Trump Jr is the poster child of trophy hunting PR and spoke at one of the largest trophy hunting conventions last year, the Safari Club International (SCI) convention. Trump Jr was spotted in images posed by African Safari Films production, one of the largest companies in South Africa to assists international hunters to film and promote their trophy hunts.


  • South African (SA) trophy hunting organisers and film productions fail to live up to ethical standards in their promotion material. Video and image footage glorifies the killing of animals and fail to meet minimum display standards
  • Conservation researcher dictates that trophy hunting foots the bill for conservation efforts in South Africa. A decline of it and national bans threaten conservation efforts but the future could become more ethical if the industry changes
  • Unethical promotion material risks attracting the wrong hunting audience (hunters with bows/crossbows, demand for canned hunting). It stymies advancements towards more ethical practices
  • Trophy Hunting film production companies…

Data reveals how major UK anti-vaxxer and anti-lockdown groups migrated their supporters to new social media platforms after conventional platforms censored their content due to #disinformation and misleading claims.

Piers Corbyn speaking at an anti-lockdown protest (Image: Dreamstime). Reporters found Mr. Corbyn, the elder brother of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, willing to accept donations to his website to channel the money to StandUpX, a conspiracy theory and disinformation spreading group that organises protests across the UK

StandUpX, also known for its anti-5G conspiracy theories and #disinformation, is among the most aggressive, well-organised and dangerous anti-vaxxer and anti-lockdown protest groups.

StandupX, (also often referred to as SUX) organised protests all across Britain over the past year and built potent local chapters. Media organisations such as Channel4News fact-checked some of their claims and confirmed misleading and outright false information.

A guide for open data journalists and human rights analysts on how to follow the trail of potentially illegal fishing and transhipment operations across West Africa (and how to use the same logic for other parts of the world)

West Africa is a hotspot for illegal- and over-fishing. It is also a flourishing piracy zone and stuffed with some of the poorest countries in the world. Last week, our investigation dropped that highlighted the problems of transshipments and European reefer fleets. The term transshipment describes the transferring of fish catch from fishing vessels to larger refrigerated cargo ships (though, there are other types of transshipments, too).

Despite local authorisation programs, the practice is still highly dodgy. It muddies the water for so many sectors. It affects how well we can track fish catch amid the larger food supply chain…

As use increases, drones cause more and more public irritation, and citizens might ponder how to combat them on their own, possibly using the sort of jamming devices that are Illegal in the UK. In an attempt to expose the practice, we tested how it is to buy one. It revealed how easily they are being sold and shipped.

Hikvision Drone Jammer: Source: Twitter

Drones can be invasive and irritating, and as their use has spiralled during lockdown, so has the number of complaints about them. We don’t have confirmed UK statistics yet and have to rely on figures from individual police forces, but the trend seems clear, pointing towards a growing problem.

The reason behind burgeoning complaints is probably a mixed bag of factors. A surge in drone use, both by law-enforcement services and hobbyists, may have been caused by more solitary time under lockdown restrictions and tight regulations across the UK. All may have contributed to what some forces reported.

Legally, members…

Leading open-source intelligence (OSINT) stories can be broken down into a few elementary steps. This post introduces a methodology on how to structure OSINT for news journalism.

Open-source intelligence (OSINT) can arm modern investigative journalist to publish scoops. In addition, methodologies in this guide may help to structure the journalism research.

Open-source journalism can be messy. It’s often packed with facts, cross-references to tools and databases, chargon and data points. Structure can help journalists to guide them through the investigation and lead the way on how to tell an engaging narrative. Neither is straightforward in this biz. Any additional assistance to introduce structure seem therefore helpful.

Investigators are often no storytellers. Here, we’ll add a few methodologies on how to cover complex OSINT stories in a matter of a few steps. Our journalistic goal isn't to sound smart and nifty. Instead, it’s to sell an appealing story that readers get. They…


Investigative journalist with a technical edge, interested in open source investigations, satellite imgs, R, python, AI, data journalism and injustice

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store