Protecting Indigenous Peoples’ Privacy from “Eyes in the Sky”

Wayne Madsen, Lead Scientist, Computer Sciences Corporation, 1994

Abstract: This paper investigates the problems associated with remote sensing from space-based platforms as they relate to the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples around the world. Many nations and international organizations recognize a right of individual privacy. This paper advances the notion of a right to collective privacy, what can best be described as a “communal right of privacy,” especially as it relates to the rights of indigenous people to be free of wanton exploitation from data on their lands and waters that are collected from orbiting surveillance and sensing platforms. Indigenous peoples argue that since they are the direct descendants of the original peoples who settled their lands before conquest by outsiders, they have an “inalienable” right to their territories and the natural resources contained therein (Nagengast, Stavenhagen, and Kearney, 1992, 31). Clearly, the sparse number of international treaties and other regimes that seek to protect the rights of indigenous people to their lands and resources must be strengthened to address privacy protections against wanton snooping from overhead surveillance satellites.

For full text of this article, which is still very relevant today, click here.

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