information escrow: a confidential allegation (e.g., re sexual harassment/ assault) transmitted to a secure, online site where it is time-stamped and held for possible future reporting to appropriate authorities.
*** TROVELOG ***
Callisto [is] an online nonprofit startup that seeks to leverage the power of tech to fight sexual harassment and assault. Using Callisto, a victim can create a secure, time-stamped record of her assault, a so-called “information escrow.” Should another victim report the same assailant, a Callisto operative will then discreetly offer to connect the victims with each other, so that, with strength in numbers, they can decide how to proceed, whether by confronting their attacker, making a report to the police, or contacting the press.
Absent a structural change, most employers and human-resources departments of the future are likely to remain inadequate to the problem [of addressing serious abuse] — a judgment seemingly shared by the anonymous creators of the “Shitty Media Men” list, who sought to formalize the “whisper networks” that have long existed in different industries to warn against abusers outside of official channels
. . .
Yet a different kind of third-party information sharing may still be possible.
A scholarly article published in 2012 by Ian Ayres and Cait Unkovic defined the challenge: Many are reluctant to be the first person to accuse someone of sexual harassment, in part because the accused “routinely responds by trying to impeach the credibility of the accuser.” Yet first accusations often lead to more accusers coming forward. That’s a dynamic that tends to protect recidivist harassers.
What if a system of “information escrow” existed instead?
. . .
A variation on that idea is already being used by the nonprofit organization Callisto, a third-party reporting system for victims of sexual assault on college campuses.
Jessica Ladd, the company’s founder, built Callisto after extensive consultations with students who’d been frustrated by the process of reporting that they were sexually assaulted. It is already being used on campuses including Stanford, the University of Oregon, USC, and Pomona College. It offers three options to students: They can save time-stamped written accounts of a sexual assault; report the allegations electronically to campus authorities or police; or report the assault only if another victim names the same perpetrator.
See video at TED Talk, posted February 15, 2016: Jessica Ladd: The reporting system that sexual assault survivors want
In this Article, we redeploy the game-theoretic “information escrow” technique to make progress on the twin concerns of underreporting of initial truthful allegations and overreporting of false copycat allegations. We propose the use of an allegation escrow to allow victims to transmit claims information to a trusted intermediary, a centralized escrow agent, who forwards the information to proper authorities if (and only if) certain prespecified conditions are met. Specifically, the escrow agent would keep harassment allegations confidential, unutilized, and unforwarded until the agent has received a prespecified number of complementary harassment allegations concerning the same accused harasser. For example, if the escrow agreement specified the accumulation of two additional allegations as a triggering event, then the agent would wait until the escrow had received three separate allegations concerning a particular alleged harasser before forwarding the information to specified authorities and initiating a complaint on behalf of the three alleging parties.
An allegation escrow holds the promise of mitigating the first-mover disadvantage in making a complaint. A victim can place the first allegation into escrow with diminished fear that she will bear the sole brunt of the adversarial reaction, and with confidence that her escrowed allegation will be released only if accompanied by at least one other allegation against the same individual. [footnote] Information escrows might thus secure more initial allegations because the alleging victim can rest assured that her initial allegation will not be seen unless it is part of a larger pattern of alleged misconduct.