Publication Details

Notley, T. & Webb-Gannon, C. (2016). Visual Evidence from Above: Assessing the Value of Earth Observation Satellites for Supporting Human Rights. Fibreculture Journal: internet theory criticism research, 27 201-1-201-18.


Public access to data collected by remote sensing Earth Observation Satellites has, until recently, been very limited. Now, citizens and rights advocacy groups are increasingly utilising satellite-collected images to interrogate justice issues; to document, prevent and verify rights abuses; and to imagine and propose social change. Yet while other communication technologies have received substantial critical analysis regarding their value as tools of social justice, activism and resistance, satellites have received comparatively scant attention. This article examines the uses of satellite-collected images in human rights contexts including the opportunities, challenges and risks they pose. We conclude this examination by arguing that if satellites are to be used effectively to collect evidence from above by rights advocates, greater attention to and capacity for ensuring accountability from below is required.



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