standard How do we regulate surveillance technology?

Will the public have more of a say in how surveillance technology is used? (Panos Pictures)

One of the agreements made by conservatives and liberal democrats in new UK government is ‘further regulation’ of CCTV surveillance systems.  The question of course is how would they be ‘regulated’?  And how do you regulate surveillance technology that in UK has become nearly as ubiquitous as the toaster or microwave?  Was surveillance even intended to go this far in monitoring the daily lives of people second-by-second?  The societal assumption is often that surveillance provides ‘security’ in contemporary society; this could mean protection from terrorists, criminals or other offenders, but the question of who exactly is being protected and from what is still left unanswered.

In the technological society we live in today, people are often pre-occupied with how to alleviate the risks new technologies bring into their lives while reaping benefits at the same time.  In the case of surveillance technologies, the problem appears no different, but perhaps is more complex as we know that security must be achieved for everyone, that all people have the right to be safe, the much greater question of course is that do people make these choices regarding safety themselves or do technological systems in place (and the authorities behind them) make it for them?

Some of these questions along with their implications are being pursued by researchers at IHRR in order to better understand the impact of surveillance technologies and how we can live in a safer world where risks to personal and national security are significantly reduced.

Further Reading

Risk and Security

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