Observation technologies are becoming increasingly important in the field of civil security. The range of applications is wide and varies from video surveillance in crime-prone areas and searches on the Internet in the run-up to and during major events to the covert collection of data from smartphones to investigate serious crimes.
Besides the intended security gains, technologised observation practices always have societal impacts as well. The focus of public and political debates is on possible psychological effects on the people observed. However, the state of knowledge regarding this issue is still limited.
So far, only little attention has been paid to possible effects of using these technologies on security actors. However, undesirable effects on the technology users can also even reduce the gain in security.
In police observation practices, it is often difficult to strike a balance between the security needs of society as a whole and individual freedoms. In this context, it seems to be necessary to enhance the proportionality assessment.
For actors in research and development, for the legislature and for actors in civil security, there are many options for shaping a target-oriented and societally viable approach to observation technologies.