Reloading Data Protection

pp 151-182


Quo Vadis Smart Surveillance? How Smart Technologies Combine and Challenge Democratic Oversight

  • Marc LangheinrichAffiliated withFaculty of Informatics, Università della Svizzera italiana (USI) Email author 
  • , Rachel FinnAffiliated withTrilateral Research & Consulting, Crown House
  • , Vlad CoroamaAffiliated withCenter for Industrial Ecology, University of Coimbra
  • , David WrightAffiliated withTrilateral Research & Consulting, Crown House

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“Smart” seems to have become the new standard for surveillance technology. Smart surveillance promises fewer human resources, larger coverage, and higher detection rates. This article examines the roots of this development through the lens of current and emerging technologies. Based on the review and analysis of academic articles, policy documents and reports, press stories and research projects, we identify the different kinds of surveillance technologies prevalent in our society today and those that are emerging in the near future. Our analysis highlights the ways in which both current and emerging technologies are increasingly being organized into assemblages—“smart surveillance” systems where individual surveillance technologies and local systems are becoming integrated, multi-modal, automated, ubiquitous and increasingly accepted by the public. In the process, they challenge notions of consent and democratic oversight.