Surveillance Technology in Latin America

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Tools to identify, track and track us wherever we go Inherently incompatible with human rights and civil liberties. Unfortunately, many Latin American governments are eager to purchase this technology and accelerate the implementation of mass biometric surveillance. Biometric tracking technology should be banned Takes place all over the world. Meanwhile, companies offering this technology They go unnoticed, Selling surveillance technology used throughout Latin America without adequate transparency or public scrutiny. Our latest report, Surveillance Technology in Latin America: Made Abroad, Used at Home, It exposes the companies behind these dangerous products and the government policies and practices that harm people’s rights.

As we highlight in the report, most of the biometric surveillance deployed in Latin America has been sourced directly or indirectly from companies in Asia (Israel, China and Japan), Europe (United Kingdom and France) and the United States. AnyVision, Hikvision, Dahua, Celebrite, Huawei, ZTE, NEC, IDEMIA, Y They are afraid. These companies exist Responsibility to respect human rights; However, its instruments are frequently implicated in human rights violations committed against civil society worldwide: journalists, activists, human rights defenders, lawyers, and members of oppressed and victimized groups.

Latin America has a long history of persecuting dissidents and people from marginalized communities, and authorities continue to abuse their public authority. The COVID-19 pandemic has given governments a new excuse to use dangerous surveillance tools in the name of public safety, despite failing to protect human rights. In essence, closed-door deals in countries like Argentina, Brazil Y Ecuador There are exposes the public to unacceptable risks.

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Our report is an investigation conducted in collaboration with our partners Association for Civil Rights (ADC)He Lab for Public Policy and the Internet (LAPIN)Y LaLibre.net (Social Technologies), not only documents the deals to acquire this risky technology, but also provides case studies to show how the technology is being used. Finally, we provide recommendations to governments, companies, and other stakeholders to increase transparency and prevent human rights abuses.


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Below we share a brief explanation Some Case studies, analysis of experiments that harm human rights in Latin America, and recommendations for increasing transparency and protecting people’s rights.

Case Studies: A growing biometric surveillance infrastructure in Argentina, Brazil and Ecuador

In 2011, Argentina introduced A large biometric database called SIBIOS. Over the past ten years, it has become the infrastructure for many national and local surveillance technologies, from surveillance balloons in the autonomous city of Buenos Aires to facial recognition cameras in Córdoba province and thermal cameras at major airports.

In BrazilIn both the public and private sectors, surveillance technologies are used, and arguments for their use include public safety, fraud detection, and school attendance monitoring. States in the Northeast and Southeast regions, two of the country’s most populous regions, have heavily promoted the use of facial recognition technologies as a measure to increase public safety, without presenting evidence to support these arguments. Surveillance technology „donated” to local governments by private companies is sometimes used as a test population.

In 2010, Ecuador “Enforced Integrated Security Service ECU911”, which created a surveillance infrastructure for law enforcement across the country with more than 6,600 cameras, some of which have built-in facial recognition technology. In 2019, we learned that the government has used the same technology to spy on political rivals and coerce sections of the citizenry.

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Why Latin American governments are investing in widespread surveillance programs

Why are governments adopting biometric surveillance technology without paying enough attention to people’s fundamental rights and the threat such widespread surveillance poses to democracy? As our report exposes, political figures respond to high crime rates by proposing a technological „solution,” and many media outlets report on this „progress” with little criticism, requiring no evidence of effectiveness or human rights protections. It should be noted that companies are so eager to grow the market and use this dynamic for monetary or political gain that they sometimes donate products for free. When neither the government nor the public understand how these technologies actually work, the necessary transparency and accountability are integrated and used to protect people. The right recipe is being developed for the continued expansion and widespread use of these technologies.

How to change the dynamic: Our recommendations for the future

Below we provide an overview of the recommendations regarding surveillance technology in Latin America detailed in our report.

Governments must:

  • Ban it Use of biometric technology for mass surveillance purposes
  • Conduct human rights impact assessments before acquiring or using biometric tracking technology
  • Avoid acquiring or using technology from companies with poor human rights records
  • Be transparent and communicative and avoid „public safety” to keep citizens, journalists and civil society in the dark.
  • Frequently consult civil society on potential adverse impacts of surveillance technology
  • Providing remedial action to victims of human rights violations through monitoring

Companies They must:

  • Commit to meeting standards of transparency, accountability and adherence to human rights
  • Improve your communication when asking for information about technology that has human rights implications
  • Implement robust human rights due diligence procedures
  • Proactively and regularly seek information to understand and raise awareness of the impact of their technologies on human rights
  • Prepare transparency reports
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He Public and media They must:

  • Help create awareness and understanding of the dangers of biometric surveillance technologies
  • Change the narrative of surveillance technology based on evidence-free “technological remedialism” and demand proper and questionable transparency, evidence of effectiveness, and compliance with human rights laws and principles.
  • Continue to ask questions and ensure that companies and governments adhere to the principles of transparency and accountability and respect and protect people’s human rights.

Access Now thanks Cyrus R. for ex parte assistance with the legal review of this report. Thanks to the Vance Center for International Justice.


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