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Who’s who in the coup?

Adam Oxford
Adam Oxford
2021-01-22

GIJN has a nice article detailing some of the research techniques used by Bellingcat et al to identify participants in the riots at the US Capitol two weeks ago. It includes links to useful OSINT tools like Hunch.ly and The Wayback Machine, and some that may not be familiar like facial recognition app PimEyes. As many participants who are awaiting trial have discovered, your indelible digital footprint is enormous, pretty much out there in the open for anyone to see, and nigh on impossible to erase.

It’s deeply pleasing that these folk have been caught, but as with the decision to ban Trump et al from Twitter, Facebook, AWS, App Store, etc it raises some deep questions about digital privacy, freedom of speech and who has the right not to be doxxed before a trial in a court of law? The easy availability of tools like PimEyes can be celebrated if it catches witless insurrectionists, but never forget the same tools can be used to identify school children, victims of sex trafficking and – of course – you. There are very few pictures of me on the internet, but PimEyes pretty much caught them all in just a few seconds (see image above)

Adam Oxford
  • Adam Oxford is a freelance journalist, media consultant and civic tech enthusiast. He also works closely with startups developing solutions to access to justice problems.

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