The issue of surveillance and vigilantism has recently been increasingly more discussed both in Brazil and elsewhere, mainly due both to the developments in technology that now allow biometric data to be collected and to the increased collection of personal data. Every day we share an enormous amount of information about our habits and behavior with private companies, the owners of digital technologies such as cell phones, tablets, applications, and many others.
People are also constantly being monitored by the State. Since long before cell phones and computers existed, the State has been creating and producing records on the population, relating to when and where we were born, our annual income, and whether we use public services. Furthermore, the State can directly monitor the public through its policing, intelligence and espionage activities. But this control over our data is not always authoritative or abusive. In order for there to exist public policies that are compatible with public needs, it is necessary for a set of data collected by public entities be analyzed by researchers and specialists for the formation of public policies based upon evidence.
Surveillance and vigilantism are fundamental for our ability to consider democracy and the Rule of Law as they currently exist. In non-democratic and authoritarian systems, the power linked to the use of surveillance technologies can affect democratic development and lead to serious abuses of human rights. There exists case upon case in which opposition activists, defenders of human rights, and journalists are placed under government surveillance and have their communications read – sometimes legally, sometimes illegally. Continue reading here.