Tara Vassefi (JD '16)
Tara is a lawyer and strategist who has spent her career learning from human rights defenders, journalists, archivists, and technologists about methods and approaches to optimizing the use of digital evidence for legal accountability and advocacy measures. She credits her exciting and fulfilling career to the War Crimes Research Office, where she began exploring this nexus of law, technology, and social impact through the Office's client work in the aftermath of the 2011 Arab Uprisings when no court had substantively weighed the evidentiary value of a YouTube video or Facebook post. After law school, she worked with WITNESS, a human rights documentation organization, focusing on Video as Evidence in the Middle East and North Africa. Following this foundational understanding of localized approaches to optimizing digital evidence, she expanded her work to include other innovative solutions and how they might be mindfully leveraged for human rights accountability, from blockchain to open source investigations to Computer Vision. While at UC Berkeley Law Schools Human Rights Center - Investigations Lab, she became particularly interested in authentication solutions and was later brought on as the Legal Scholar and Washington Director of Strategic Initiatives for Truepic, a tech startup specializing in digital image authentication. She left that position after learning key lessons about why technology has veered so far from its original promise of positive impact. She now continues her learning, casework, and strategizing alongside a wide range of partners from human rights advocates to tech companies to small businesses.