Resolution of the Executive Committee on technologies and urban security

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Paris, 24 June 2015 – At the end of the 40-month participation in the European research project on ethical issues, legal limitations, and efficiency of surveillance “SURVEILLE”, and building upon

• the Efus Charter for a democratic use of video surveillance (2010),
• the resolution of Efus’s Executive Committee 4 November 2010 calling for a democratic and responsible use of CCTV in European cities,
• the recommendations on the use of technologies for prevention included in the Manifesto of Aubervilliers and Saint-Denis “Security, Democracy and Cities” (2012),
• the work of the SURVEILLE project including its Efus end user working group of local authorities, 2012-2015,

the Executive Committee of the European Forum for Urban Security (Efus) takes the following resolution:

The European Forum considers that:

Technologies are increasingly used in urban security. The increasingly widespread use of new technologies,including new ways of detection, data collection, recording, identification, tracking and the common theme of digitalisation, data fusion and analysis,has in many ways, changed our lives and it is also changing that of our cities, which are becoming “digital” and “smart” cities. Urban democracy and security can now be connected to digital innovation.
Technology in urban security is more than supporting law enforcement. It is a tool at the service of a holistic approach to urban security which is based on prevention. Technology does not only provide new instruments to protect and control, but also to foster transparency (i.e. open data, technologies to control the controller…), participation and empowerment of citizens and to provide better services and governance.

Technology provides local and regional authorities with new tools. They have to be part of an inclusive, multi-agency strategy for urban security which aims at tackling the complex causes underlying insecurity and which is not reduced to technical risk management. These tools can also contribute to fostering evidence-based crime prevention by providing a better knowledge based on an analysis of the local situation of insecurity and the feeling of insecurity.

Using technologies for urban security also comes with risks, particularly in terms of ethics and infringements to fundamental rights. As for other instruments for urban security, it has to be established whether new technologies are effective, usable, safe, and worth the investment. The issue of surveillance itself must also be addressed. Indeed, even if they are not surveillance technologies per se many of these systems produce surveillance as a by-product. What is at stake is not only the issue of privacy but also that of social inclusion and freedom (freedom of thought, of conscience and religion, of expression, of association, of movement and residence).

The nexus of security and freedom, the relationship between security and other fundamental rights, is crucial and recurrent in the work of the European Forum for Urban Security. It is an intrinsic part of the Forum’s understanding of “urban security” and what should be done about it. In its human rights based approach, freedom and security must go hand in hand and can strengthen each other.

The use of technology for urban security and the protection of fundamental rights can, in many cases, be reconciled in practice. The fine-grained analysis of ethics, fundamental rights intrusion and the usability of technology for urban security, as provided by the SURVEILLE project, is fundamental for identifying win-win arrangements.

Within the framework of fundamental rights, citizens should be at the heart of the decision about whether or not and how technologies should be used for urban security. The results of the SURVEILLE research project and its sister project SURPRISE, as well as the experiences of local authorities, suggest that informed debates are of real interest to citizens, who can themselves play a role when it comes to responsible use of technology.

Local and regional authorities must play a role in the European debate on the use of technology in urban security because they are increasingly becoming technology users. Their proximity to citizens gives them legitimacy as well as responsibility. They are aware of the opportunities as well as the challenges and are often the bearers of innovative solutions to reconcile security and liberty in practice.

The European Forum recommends:

• Openness with regard to the opportunities that new technologies provide for urban security;
• Implementation of the principles of the Charter for a Democratic Use of Video Surveillance (legality, necessity, proportionality, transparency, responsibility, independent oversight, citizen participation) to the use of technologies for urban security in general;
• Taking a “privacy by design” or a minimum “harm by design” approach to apply these principles to all stages of any project that includes the use of technologies for urban security, from its design to its implementation;
• Making use of analytical tools and research insights such as those provided by the SURVEILLE project and its traffic-light decision support system;
• Building on the rational framework for discussion provided by SURVEILLE in order to engage in dialogue with local stakeholders and citizens on the rationale for using or not technologies for urban security in a given situation.

The European Forum commits to:

• Supporting local and regional authorities in developing their capacities to make good and responsible use of technologies in urban security;
• Organising the exchange of knowledge and practices amongst local authorities, with academic experts and all other relevant stakeholders;
• Providing them with assistance and training;
• Developing and disseminating the knowledge on effectiveness and efficiency;
• Working on the development of a Charter for an enlightened and responsible use of technologies for urban security, which would include practical guidelines, examples and expertise on how to put the Charter into practice.

The European Forum calls national, European and international authorities to provide political support for these ideas for an enlightened and responsible use of technologies for urban security.