Legalities around Tech in Surveillance

If you read our previous article, you are all caught up on the beginnings of CCTV and video surveillance, but where are we now? 

This industry is not just about watching, it’s much more than robust hardware and long-term storage. Keeping each other safe means making use of technology to collect and analyse our security data and using the software available to us in smarter ways. 

This is where AI comes in.  

Artificial Intelligence is when we teach machines to complete tasks usually performed by humans. Repetitive and transaction-intensive processes can be automated and with AI enhanced analytics systems, we can uncover patterns and trends that will help us all make better informed decisions. But is all of this just theoretical? The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has developed an Artificial Intelligence Global Surveillance Index (the AIGS Index) as a first step to investigate the effects of AI in surveillance technology around the world. The Index aims to describe global trends in the governmental use of AI in surveillance. The AIGS index determines that a country makes use of Artificial Intelligence in surveillance if they employ the following tools: Safe City Platform, Smart Policing and Facial Recognition. A Safe City Platform or Smart City is so called because of the well placed sensors that transmit real-time data. This data not only contributes to public safety, but ensures proper city management and service delivery. 

Smart Policing is a process that uses AI enhanced analytics to drive police activities like investigations, criminal apprehension, and even attempts to stop crime before it happens. 

The Index even found that countries are deploying Facial Recognition software – meaning they make use of biometric cameras (that are different to regular CCTV cameras) to compare live images or video of individuals against a database of stored images. 

In compiling this Index Carnegie discovered that a distinction had to be made between legitimate use of this technology and illegally abusing those resources. The enactment of surveillance activities is not inherently unlawful, and there are standards to meet before an act of surveillance can be carried out.   

Each country must have a legal framework outlining surveillance regulations. These regulations must meet an international standard. The surveillance action may not “unjustifiable or arbitrarily” infringe upon citizens’ rights.

The Index found that the use of AI enhanced analytics is “value-neutral”. Countries that possess this technology and use it regularly are not necessarily carrying out unlawful actions and the effects of using this technology can be positive, like the cost-effectiveness that comes with automation.

On our mission to build safer communities, advances in AI, the way that countries, businesses and even private citizens use surveillance to protect themselves and others is something that we will be keeping a close eye on. Follow us as we explore the journey of this technology, and come with us to the places that this tech can go!

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