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Rianne ten Veen’s research into globalisation and surveillance


An induction day interview with Rianne has been recorded in Milton Keynes on audio tape. For the next three years she will be examining ethical issues surrounding new technologies used to administer humanitarian aid. Her previous practical work has been in disaster management, focussing on manmade complex emergencies.

Research title: “To what extent is the humanitarian sector contributing to the militarisation of global surveillance? An exploration of the iris scan (for Syrian refugees in Jordan) and UAV/drones (Somalia)”

Her research will deliver case studies on the impact of drones and the use of retinal scans. As news comes in of drones doing good work, such as delivering medicine, there should be some way in which people on the ground can differentiate those from armed UAVs.

One problem with the use of iris scans to determine who is entitled to aid is that only the head of the household is given a retinal scan and if s/he is ill, no food can be collected. Another is the possible misuse of databases storing such information or the consequences of the data leaks so often reported.

International aid is assumed to be spent on food and medical aid, but to what extent is that money remaining in the West to fund the development of such technologies, perpetuating the power divide?

Listen here: