Invasive surveillance through thermal scanning

Thermal scanning has expanded in pandemic times to places like airports, schools, workplaces, and retailers. The concern is that unlawful and unevidenced use could lead to unnecessary violations of data protection rights, contributing to further invasive surveillance that violates other rights, such as the right to education and freedom of movement.

Big Brother Watch are planning to take a claim in the UK High Court against a data controller using thermal scanning technology, to confirm that thermal scanning results are “personal data” under data protection law, that impact assessments are needed before scanners are used, and that the technology must be created and implemented in line with data protection law.

Invasive surveillance through thermal scanning

Organisation Name

Big Brother Watch

Country/Jurisdiction

United Kingdom

Thematic Areas

Privacy and data protection

Human rights standards in the use and design of technology

Current Status

Ongoing

Grant type

COVID-19 Litigation Fund

Description

Thermal scanning has expanded in pandemic times to places like airports, schools, workplaces, and retailers. The concern is that unlawful and unevidenced use could lead to unnecessary violations of data protection rights, contributing to further invasive surveillance that violates other rights, such as the right to education and freedom of movement.

Big Brother Watch are planning to take a claim in the UK High Court against a data controller using thermal scanning technology, to confirm that thermal scanning results are “personal data” under data protection law, that impact assessments are needed before scanners are used, and that the technology must be created and implemented in line with data protection law.

"...unlawful and unevidenced use could lead to unnecessary violations of data protection rights, contributing to further invasive surveillance"

Strategic Goal

To ensure a more evidence-led, rights-respecting and data protection respecting approach to surveillance during the pandemic, particularly related to thermal scanning, and to set a precedent confirming that other rights are being indirectly violated by the imposition of thermal scanning.

Organisation Name

Women’s Link Worldwide

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