New mass surveillance system concerns Chilean civil society


Chile has been downgraded for the third year in a roll in Reporters Without Borders' 2019 World Press Freedom Index. In 2016 Chile reached the 31st place, but it has since fallen to the 46th position. The report highlights the problems journalists face in covering certain subjects, particularly political corruption and the long-standing conflict between the Chilean state and Mapuche communities. It also underscores that confidentiality of sources is often violated. According to the report, in Chile “pluralism and democratic debate are limited by the concentration of media ownership and the difficulties that community media encounter in ensuring their long-term survival”.

In a separate development, a group of 28 civil society organisations and nearly 70 experts have issued a public statement rejecting President Piñera's new Mobile Surveillance System launched on the 18th May 2019. The system was created under Chile's "Calle Segura" (Safe Street) plan and will use drones and cameras to monitor public areas, aiming to fight crime and improve coordination of security agencies. This surveillance system is starting with a fleet of 8 drones equipped with high definition cameras, facial recognition technology and capacity to register and transmit images in real-time. According to Chilean authorities, there are plans to extend the system to cover the whole country as early as 2020.

In the analysis of Derechos Digitales and other organisations that have spoken out against the initiative, this system violates fundamental rights and implies a drawback for human rights in Chile. In their statement, these organisations have said:

"This new national policy institutes a mass surveillance technology in public space, using a level of intrusion and mobility never seen before in Chile, and it is the expression of a State seeking to increase social control (...)"

Peaceful Assembly

Thousands of Chilean teachers have been on strike since 3rd June 2019. Multiple marches have been called in support of the national strike and over 90,000 teachers have taken part in the mobilisation, which started with a call from Chile's largest teacher union, the Colegio de Profesores de Chile (CPC).  On 8th July 2019, Chilean Education Minister Marcela Cubillos met CPC representatives to discuss a proposal to address demands and end the strike. The union's president Mario Aguilar encouraged teachers to accept the government’s offer but the proposal was initially voted down by union members. On 22nd July 2019, as the strike entered its 8th week, a new vote from CPC's constituency showed a majority of teachers in favour of stopping the mobilisation, which was followed by the announcement of the end of the strike.