Surveillance: Ethical Issues, Legal Limitations, and Efficiency

SURVEILLE is a cutting-edge and cross-disciplinary collaborative research project funded by the European Commission analyzing the ethical issues, legal limitations and efficiency of the use of surveillance technologies for the prevention, investigation and prosecution of serious crime.

SURVEILLE seeks close interaction with other projects funded under FP7, and through its Advisory Service directed towards technology developers to sensitize them to issues of ethics and fundamental rights that arise, and to help them to find constructive solutions to addressing nascent security issues.

SURVEILLE has 4 main objectives:

1. To provide a comprehensive survey of the types of surveillance technology deployed in Europe.

2. To assess the benefits and costs of surveillance technology. ‘Benefits’ refers to the delivery of improved security; ‘costs’ to the economic costs, negative public perceptions, negative effects on behaviour and infringement of fundamental rights.

3. To identify, elaborate and assess the whole range of legal and ethical issues raised by the use of surveillance technology in the prevention, investigation and prosecution of terrorism and other crime – including those related to fundamental rights.

4. To communicate continuously the results of the research to a representative sample of stakeholders: European decision-makers, law enforcement professionals, local authorities, and technology developers, and to receive feedback to inform continuing research.

Progress Beyond the State of the Art

SURVEILLE will build on previous FP 6 and FP7 work, and will take further the work done by some of the current project partners in the DETECTER project, utilizing the results of the research conducted there. DETECTER pioneered systematic interactions with technology developers. These interactions not only bring ethical and human rights implications of specific products to the attention of developers, but also enables ethics and human rights research deliverables to be informed by knowledge of what’s on the market and, in certain cases, based on customer requests of companies to develop products and services, reflecting different stakeholders understanding of the market.

A further feature of DETECTER’s work was the inclusion of police and intelligence service personnel, who were able to comment on the usability of products. SURVEILLE’s Advisory Service will enable much more of this interaction without the logistical challenges and expenses inherent to traditional meetings people must travel to. The advisory service will ultimately contribute towards building trust among EU citizens while promoting best practices among technology developers and end users based on compliance with human rights.