Technology is transforming the ways in which governments and companies watch people.
Some of the world's largest companies play an essential role in this process, such that surveillance has become a motor of the global economy. Governments actively participate in the development of surveillance technologies through public contracting by military, police, immigration, and health agencies, among others.
New technologies are being constantly developed, including:
- Development and application of artificial intelligence to monitor and build "virtual walls."
- Collection and analysis of biometric data, using facial recognition and similar techniques, including access to social networks.
- Sale en masse of personally identifiable information from commercial sources, which ends up in the hands of state authorities and companies.
- Preventive policing technologies that use algorithms to over police certain communities, with discriminatory judicial consequences.
- Deployment of unmanned aerial vehicles — in other words, drones — to track and surveill the location and proximity of human beings without their consent, not to mention their lethal use against individuals and populations with disastrous consequences.
The tech sector and the services it provides often skirt legal frameworks that protect individuals, violating the human rights of the most vulnerable communities.
In Empower we research these companies and governments with the objective of monitoring and exposing their practices in order to hold them accountable and support the creation of legal frameworks that protect against new threats to human rights.
Public information requests to obtain technical documents and relevant communications between governments and private contractors.
Monitor legislation and public policies that regulate the use of new platforms and databases, including inter-agency and bilateral agreements that facilitate the sharing of personally identifiable information.
Strategic research of tech companies: tracking beneficial ownership, financing, and business partners, with extensive knowledge of public sources and proprietary databases.
Analysis of public procurement for surveillance technologies and related products.
Legal research to keep up with regulatory and commercial disputes.
Analysis of lobbying and campaign finance to identify conflicts of interest and revolving door practices.
EXAMPLES OF OUR WORK
Read the report Who’s Behind ICE?, which exposes the tech companies that collaborate with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), contributing to the agency's arrests, detentions, and deportations.