The Lavits research network aims to become a means for discussion and exchange of knowledge and debate around sociotechnical circumstances that enable the capture, storage, management and cross-checking information, especially of personal data.
Smart cards or chip cards, RFID tags, GPS devices, mobile phones, Internet use, social networks, email messages, closed circuit television (CCTV), or biometric identification documents are examples of such applications.
The massive presence of these technologies in Latin America, in daily life, has not been accompanied by public debate, social movements, academic research, or by appropriate legislation. This, alone, highlights the importance of creating a space for exchanging information and experiences in order to stimulate debate and research on the subjects that surrounds the use of surveillance technologies.
Thus, the Latin American Network of Surveillance, Technology and Society Studies has as its main objectives:
• To create strategies for developing research on surveillance technologies in Latin American countries
• To promote interaction and exchange between researchers and those interested in understanding of the use of surveillance technologies
• To stimulate the production of research and knowledge on these issues in the context of Latin American countries, considering their differences and similarities
• To encourage the creation of joint activities and multidisciplinarity
• To promote integration of themes and methologies among researchers withhin the network
• To increase the visibility and significance of the themes studied by the network members
• To intensify the dialogue with social and artistic movements mobilized by the use of surveillance technologies
• To facilitate partnerships between Latin-American researchers, from other networks, and international initiatives interested in similar subjects
• To publish the research findings and results to the academic as well as to the general public in order to stimulate public debate on the issue surrounding the use of surveillance technologies in Latin America
In March 2009, members of what is known as the Latin American Network of Surveillance, Technology and Society Studies (Lavits) organized at the Pontifical Catholic University of Parana (Curitiba, Brazil), the 1st International Symposium on Surveillance, Security and Social Control in Latin America. This was the first attempt to gather a group of researchers interested in the subjects of surveillance, technology, data collection and monitoring.
The researchers completed in 2011 its first joint research project, titled “Social Effects and Treatment of Personal Adjustment in Latin America”, financed by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).
The aim of this project was to mapping the current situation of surveillance and data collection technologies in Brazil and Mexico from three main strands: a) National identity documents, b) Video surveillance in public spaces, and c) Surveillance Data on the Internet.
Future projects include in-depth comparison of the situation in these two countries and the mapping of other Latin American countries. Through conferences and studies, the network aim to find more Latin American partners and to establish a fruitful enviroment of exchange and partnership around the themes of surveillance, technology and society in the region.