1. Risk Assessment
Investigating a public-private partnership comes with a number of legal, technical, and human risks that must be assessed before undertaking any action. These risks change with your research framework and the broader context within which the partnership operates. We suggest you identify and assess the risks related to your investigation project before anything else. To assist you with this task you may refer to the non-exhaustive lists below.
A. Risks to consider
- Defamation: The law of defamation protects a person’s reputation against unjustified interference. You may get sued for defamation by a private actor you make allegations against. Defamation laws differ between jurisdictions and the burden of proof might be entirely on you.
- Unlawful obtention of information: Depending on your jurisdiction, certain types of investigations might be in contravention of the law (such as publishing leaked information or hacking).
- Intellectual Property (IP): Trade secrets and copyright are two examples of IP law that you might break while carrying out your investigation.
- Risks for people (staff, source, partners…): Any activity that can put at risk the life of someone involved should not be undertaken, unless there are specific actions to be taken to mitigate the risks. Risks may include among others: physical harm, psychological harm, social harm, economic harm, and legal harm.
- Damage to reputation: Risks for your organisation’s objectivity, impartiality or credibility. Risks may include: inaccurate facts, insufficiently backed statements, and exploitation of social media monitoring (SOCMINT) and other open sources (OSINT) without consideration for privacy, etc.
B. Suggested Mitigations
Below are some suggested mitigations for these risks. They are not exhaustive, and may not, alone, be adequate to successfully mitigate all these risks.
- Strong research methodology: Citing sources, evaluating quality of sources, taking photos and videos, use of adequate language.
- Corroboration of information: Corroborating multiple sources and testimonies to ensure validity of the information.
- Redaction and cleaning of documents: Redacting personal data and stripping documents of metadata.
- Preparation before public speaking or media interviews to adopt adequate language.
- Keep original sources and store them securely.
- Consider the safety of people (consent, anonymity and more) before undertaking any action.