The Ethics and Rights Architecture (ERA) is a language-neutral international standard indexing system designed to catalogue all data relating to human rights and fundamental freedoms. It will ensure that relevant information is censorship resistant and tamper-proof, and can be easily and precisely found.
Phase 1 of the ERA project is a comprehensive censorship-resistant indexing system, simple and effective enough that any human rights data published in any medium can be easily discovered across all languages. Phase 2 will expand the project into a censorship proof indexing system of the same sort for all documents of human value.
During the planning phase of the ERA project, consultation meetings were held across the world with a range of government, research, philanthropic, and professional organisations to discover the key blockages to effective human rights advocacy. Participants overwhelmingly reported that the vulnerability and inaccessibility of online information is a major problem.
To be effective and influential, information published by human rights organisations must be visible. It must be easily discoverable by anyone – not just trained researchers. Whether the data is a campaign pamphlet from a free speech advocate in China, or a legal analysis from a US university professor, whatever the medium, information needs to be available to everyone, quickly and accurately.
Inaccessibility and invisibility of information has however become a significant problem for human rights defenders, publishers, and researchers. Online data is often impossible to discover via conventional search techniques, particularly across language and disciplinary boundaries.
Search engines can be very effective tools but – increasingly – discovery of crucial information is too often random and accidental. Put simply, there is now so much volume and diversity of online information that the vast majority is either lost in the white noise of search results or rendered invisible because of inherent search biases such as advertisement placement.
A universal indexing system for data items has not been developed and no taxonomy for human rights yet exists outside the legal realm. Phase 1 of the ERA project aims to solve this.
ERA is a proposed international standard for the classification of human rights (and human rights related) information. It has been built to ensure that any human rights information can be easily and precisely found.