Friday, August 22, 2008

Recent Spatial Law Links

Privacy - in all it forms - continues to be a hot Spatial Law issue. An article in the Washington Post discusses how the Department of Homeland Security has recently begun collecting data on when and where U.S. citizens enter the country by land. (DHS has been collecting this information from international air travel for a while). According to the article, the data will be stored for 15 years and may be used in criminal and intelligence investigations.

In the UK, police in Lincolnshire are reportedly using high resolution aerial imagery to fight against crime and to decrease response times to major incidents. The imagery will be integrated as a data layer with other GIS information.

As noted in previous posts, spatial technology and the collection of spatial data is becoming a powerful tool for law enforcement. I am very supportive of this trend as I believe law enforcement should use all available tools. However, I have some reservations that I hope will be addressed in the near future. For example, I am concerned that law enforcement officials may not have the appropriate training to understand the limitations of the technology and the nuances of spatial data. Similarly, I am also concerned that most citizens do not know how much spatial data is being collected about them on a regular basis; either by the government or in ways that can be accessed by the government during an investigation.

My feeling is that once informed, most citizens would be accepting of what data is being collected and how it is used. However, instead of educating citizens, it appears that law enforcement and intelligence officials want to keep capabilities veiled. While I certainly understand the need to protect sources and methods, I think this technology needs to be understood better by all involved.

1 comment:

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