The Legal Implications of Online Surveillance Tools

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Online surveillance tools allow investigators to monitor the activities of individuals in real time. They could include cameras and microphones, GPS trackers, and biometric scanners that can detect fingerprints and scans of the iris. They also can include software that spies on computer activity, like keyloggers.

The application of these tools has grave legal implications. They may violate human rights and should be subject to clear legal frameworks that protect privacy. These frameworks must outline the reasons for their use, and outline the authorisation processes, including judicial supervision. They should also define limits on data collection and retention.

Lack of transparency when using these tools can be a concern because it could encourage people to self-censor out from fear of being observed. Additionally, the widespread use of monitoring social media sites to detect threats that are not tethered from suspicion of wrongdoing can produce a mountain of irrelevant information that may obstruct information on — and resources for — genuine security concerns for the public.

These tools could be of great help to law enforcement agencies in the context of investigations however, they must be governed by clear legal frameworks which guarantee the rights of individuals. The laws should define the reasons for their use, stipulate necessary authorization processes and establish limits on the collection and retention of data. These tools should also be subject to judicial oversight since independent judicial oversight could help prevent misuse of surveillance technologies. Regular reporting and disclosure will also aid in building trust and encourage public discussion about the proper size and limitations of these tools.

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