AI & Big Data Global Surveillance Index

Published: 15 December 2020| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/gjhf5y4xjp.1
Steven Feldstein


This index compiles empirical data on AI and big data surveillance use for 179 countries around the world between 2012 and 2020— although the bulk of the sources stem from between 2017 and 2020. The index does not distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate uses of AI and big data surveillance. Rather, the purpose of the research is to show how new surveillance capabilities are transforming governments’ ability to monitor and track individuals or groups. Last updated April 2020. This index addresses three primary questions: Which countries have documented AI and big data public surveillance capabilities? What types of AI and big data public surveillance technologies are governments deploying? And which companies are involved in supplying this technology? The index measures AI and big data public surveillance systems deployed by state authorities, such as safe cities, social media monitoring, or facial recognition cameras. It does not assess the use of surveillance in private spaces (such as privately-owned businesses in malls or hospitals), nor does it evaluate private uses of this technology (e.g., facial recognition integrated in personal devices). It also does not include AI and big data surveillance used in Automated Border Control systems that are commonly found in airport entry/exit terminals. Finally, the index includes a list of frequently mentioned companies – by country – which source material indicates provide AI and big data surveillance tools and services. All reference source material used to build the index has been compiled into an open Zotero library, available at The index includes detailed information for seventy-seven countries where open source analysis indicates that governments have acquired AI and big data public surveillance capabilities. The index breaks down AI and big data public surveillance tools into the following categories: smart city/safe city, public facial recognition systems, smart policing, and social media surveillance. The findings indicate that at least seventy-seven out of 179 countries are actively using AI and big data technology for public surveillance purposes: • Smart city/safe city platforms: fifty-five countries • Public facial recognition systems: sixty-eight countries • Smart policing: sixty-one countries • Social media surveillance: thirty-six countries



Artificial Intelligence, Human Rights, Information and Communication Technologies, Governance, Democracy, Surveillance