The Regulation of Location-Aware and POV Surveillance Technologies

Title: The Regulation of Location-­‐Aware and Point-­‐of-­‐View Surveillance Technologies

Professor Roger Clarke, Visiting Professor, School of Computer Science, Australian National University


A diverse array of location-­‐aware and point-­‐of-­‐view technologies are proliferating. Each gives rise to data trails  and enables visual surveillance  and/or dataveillance. By combining these trails, and supplementing them  with  results  of  communications  interception, law  enforcement agencies  are  becoming capable  of integrated views  of places  and of people associated with them. Given the substantial powers  that those agencies have, they are in a strong position to use these new sources if intelligence to protect the powerful and  the  unopular,  and  for  crowd  control.  However,  the  new  tools  represent  a  shift  beyond  individual surveillance  technologies  to  a  coordinated  and  integrated  monitoring  complex,  to  which  the  term 'überveillance'  has  been  applied.  Beyond  harming  psychological  and  social  needs  for  privacy,  these developments directly threaten political freedoms. Real-­‐time tracking may enhance the capabilities of law enforcement agencies  to the point that demonstrations are still-­‐born and hence 'civil resistance is futile'. Retrospective  tracking can become  a suspicion-­‐generator, and a  means of mapping social networks in a way  that 'consorting squads'  and undercover operatives  could never achieve. These technologies  lay the foundation for a  semi-­‐automated form of chilling effect on political action, political speech and political thought.  A  review  of  current  regulatory  controls  on  these  technologies  highlights  their  impotence. A framework for regulation is suggested. The threats are severe, and there is an urgent need for democracies to impose tight controls on their increasingly intrusive and powerful law enforcement agencies.


Professor Roger Clarke is Principal of Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, Canberra. He is also a Visiting Professor in  the  Cyberspace  Law  &  Policy  Centre  at  the  UNSW,  and  a  Visiting  Professor  in  the  Department  of Computer Science at the Australian National University. He was for a  decade  the Chair of the Economic Legal and Social Implications Committee of the Australian Computer Society, and spent some time as the

ACS Director of Community Affairs.

He holds degrees from UNSW and ANU, and has been a Fellow of the ACS since 1986. He is a longstanding

Board member of both the Australian Privacy Foundation (APF) and Privacy International, and Chair of APF 2006-­‐10.  His resources site, which has accumulated 35 million hits, is at