The Satellite and the Individual: The Legal Resolution of Remote Sensing
Proceedings of the International Institute of Space Law 2016
Posted: 4 Jun 2019
Date Written: 2016
International remote sensing law is built on an egalitarian set of principles that grants liberal rights for states to sense other states, but also gives sensed states claims to access to the data gathered about their territories. These principles underpinned the verification mechanisms in disarmament law, and they would later come to assist in setting up disaster management regimes. But these principles apply to states sensing other states, and in general ignore legal rights or claims related to the individual. In general, such claims fall to national law to address, which for much of the life of the technology has been an adequate way to manage these rules.
Remote sensing technologies have advanced since the time that the laws were written. Significantly their resolution has increased dramatically. Additionally, the data these satellites collect has become enmeshed in a large ecosystem of geographical information systems (GIS) that leverage network technology, computer processing, and big data to create data rich spatial applications. These modern GIS systems are employed ubiquitously by commercial actors, governments, and individuals. They are not limited to presenting purely geographic information as they allow for the integration of various data points. This means that GIS technologies present myriad issues for the individual as GIS implicates individual privacy, security, and freedom.
Keywords: Space Law, Remote Sensing, Earth Observation, Human Rights Law
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