International Legal Framework for Remote Sensing Activities – Rights of the Developing Nations​​

Hepzibah Beulah C
Assistant Professor, Dr. Ambedkar Government Law College, Chennai, India.

Volume IV, Issue I, 2021

Remote sensing is an advanced technology used to identify, observe and measure an object from outer space without any manual intervention. The amount of information that could be collected vide the remote sensing activities tantamount to invasion in the privacy of an individual as well as to the neighboring nations. Though the Outer Space Treaty has declared the extra territorial space to be treated as a common heritage for all mankind, the rights of the states that are being sensed are violated. This poses a strong threat especially to the developing nations who are brought vicariously under the surveillance of the developed nations having an eye in the sky. The remote sensing technology of the developed nations are more advanced compared to the developing nations. Lack of a clear International legal framework has resulted in such a disparity and the legal subcommittee of the UNCOPUOS has not addressed the condition of the developing nations. The sovereignty principle of the United Nations is under threat by the nations collecting information of other sovereign states and are providing them information back to the sensed state at a cost.

The sensed information includes military strategies, minerals and yield of crops and personal privacy. Under the freedom of information, the leading nations such as the United States, European Union and Russia have defended their usage of remote sensing technology on other sovereign territories. The study will highlight the ways in which the rights of the developing nations have been denied and their privacy invaded. Further, the study will provide suggestions and recommendations to treat the sovereign nations equally and the need for an international legal framework to treat the nations equally.

Keywords: remote sensing, right to privacy, equality among states, remote sensing laws, developing nations