A new analysis shows a lack of transparency among companies that distribute surveillance technologies in Latin America

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Companies that distribute dangerous surveillance technologies must openly and transparently communicate to the public what steps they are taking to minimize the impact of their operations on human rights. Latin American companies typically don’t, according to this new analysis.

Access now, Civil Rights Association (ADC), Public Policy and Internet Lab (LAPIN) and LaLibre.net Together we started the report Remote Biometric Monitoring in Latin America: Do Companies Respect Human Rights?, a document that analyzes responses to a series of questions about products and their impact on human rights by companies that distribute technologies with biometric surveillance capabilities in Latin America. At the same time, compare these answers in perspective United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (PRNU). Only 9 of the 23 companies we contacted provided information about their practices. Cellebrite, Dahua, Hikvision, Huawei, Idemia and Oosto are some of the companies we have contacted.

It is very difficult to get concrete answers from companies that distribute surveillance technologies about how they mitigate human rights threats. If they do provide answers, they are usually brief, generic, acquisition-focused, or straight out of a public relations handbook. Civil society must hold these institutions accountable for their impact, and Latin American people have the right to security and privacy.
Angela Alarcon, Campaigner for Latin America and the Caribbean Access Now

This analysis examines four patterns we found in the responses: Exclusion of liability for product defects; Deflection of responsibility to other agents; Concern for customers, but not for affected people; Overconfidence in internal principles despite lack of transparency.

This analysis is the result of several communication efforts with companies prior to launch, from 2021 onwards Surveillance technology in Latin America: Made abroad, used at home. At the time of publication, all companies contacted had decided not to respond.

When it comes to implementing their technologies in other countries around the world, many of the companies we’ve contacted have poor HR records. Access Now will continue to work to prevent human rights abuses in Latin America and other regions, and expose abuses where appropriate. Learn more about the global campaign to ban biometric surveillance and the regional #WhyWeAreSurveillance campaign.

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