Surveillance Technology in Argentina
Throughout 2020 and 2021, ADC (Association for Civil Rights) participated in a regional study on the purchase and use of surveillance technologies in Latin America, conducted by Access Now. ADC dealt with the situation in Argentina; the upshot of this research was published in the paper Surveillance Technology in Latin America: Made Abroad, Deployed at Home, which also includes the case studies of Brazil and Ecuador.
The present document recaps the findings of that work and updates the state of affairs, including new events such as the introduction of facial recognition in the province of Salta. It also includes recommendations for future regulation of agreements to be made between the public and private sectors, aligned with international principles on business and human rights.
It is clear that the display of surveillance technology continues to grow in Argentina. Biometric data as a means of identification, which began to be applied for public safety purposes, is already being used to verify identities in social security programs, tax or fiscal responsibilities, education, elections, and sports. Meanwhile, more and more government authorities, at national, provincial, and municipal levels, are installing video surveillance cameras in public spaces with facial recognition systems that allow people to be pinpointed by their physical features, thus posing a significant risk to human rights.
Governments generally turn to the private sector when purchasing these types of equipment. The kind of dependence this creates, as companies are responsible for their development, as well as the risks inherent to these solutions, give rise to new questions on who to hold accountable when people’s rights are infringed and what should be considered for the procurement processes in each case.
In order to halt the spread of this type of technology throughout the country, it is essential to understand its scope and implications. To this end, we should first be well-informed on how these public-private ventures operate while establishing adequate mechanisms so that both, governments and companies, commit themselves to respect and protect human rights, and secondly, provide efficient mechanisms for redress when those rights are violated.