The Legal Aspects of Remote Sensing

To obtain the full 100 page analysis of the new ‘satellite’ / ‘drone’  techniques from an investment professional’s perspective please download here:

What follows is a short excerpt from our comprehensive guide:

Legal Aspects of Remote Sensing Data Within the Investment Process

GSI is at the vanguard of companies that employ sophisticated surveillance and data-crunching technology to supply the financial community with novel data sets covering a wide range of topics including oil supply, metal inventories, retail traffic and crop yields.


In GSI’s downloadable Grey Book entitled ‘The Legal Aspects of Remote Sensing’ we address some of the concerns that may arise on privacy grounds and examine how satellite based Remote Sensing has evolved under Space Law rather than Aerial law. The Key findings are

  • the US Courts have ruled that no reasonable expectation of privacy exists in open fields,[1]
  • nor for persons in public view, [2]
  • No reasonable expectation of privacy exists for subjects in “plain view” of public airways. [3]
  • Furthermore no barriers to date have been placed upon the technology used (including satellite imagery) to conduct a warrantless search [4]

 Opportunity to Use Satellite Data:

GSI are strongly of the opinion that ‘Big Data solutions’ have reached a point where they can be of significant use to financial markets.

  • No corporate ‘insider’ is used..
  • Information is either in a public licensable archive or obtained through legal measurement techniques and locations.
  • In parallel to publically obtainable intelligence, GSI build data sets around other forms of GIS intelligence (such as monitoring the magnetic and electric fields in proximity to power plants and transmission lines). These sensors are placed at strategic locations on private property, and ultimately form legally obtained ‘proprietary’ data sets.
  • We have completed a review of the evolution of US and European Privacy Laws and are satisfied that the measuring techniques employed do not break ‘privacy laws’ – see Please log in to our site to download the entire analysis

GSI intends on releasing its fundamental data sets initially to an exclusive and very limited audience. Some fields, particularly certain energy / commodity markets have long been dominated by a handful of giants. To our mind, even if GSI intelligence serves only a handful of clients, this will help to reduce substantial informational asymmetry, which we believe this will in many instances, serve to establish a more efficient market.

 Use of Satellite Data Specifically Regarding FCA / MAR / SEC

GSI believe that using Satellite and Aerial techniques to obtain fundamental data are perfectly legal, do not contravene any of the FCA / MAR / SEC guidelines and merely represent the latest advances in searching for every possible trading advantage.

  • Having reviewed the current (release 161, May 2015) FCA Code of Market Conduct and relevant Market Abuse Regulation (MAR), GSI believe that insights and intelligence obtained from interpretation of imagery that is either:
    • Publically available in archive from satellites and used under licence from satellite owners
    • Commissioned by Geospatial Insight (GSI) to be taken at specific times and locations from satellite
    • Commissioned by GSI to be taken at specific times and locations from aircraft
    • Commissioned by GSI to be taken at specific times and locations from drones
  • Does not contravene MAR and as such insights obtained in this manner can be used for the trading of securities as identified under MiFID, including:
  • Commodity futures, derivatives, options and other instruments
  • Equities
  • Bonds
  • Currency and FOREX

[1] Hester v. United States, 265 U.S. 57 (1924)

[2] Oliver v. United States, 466 U.S. 170 (1984)

[3] California v. Ciraolo, 476 U.S. 207 (1986)

[4] Dow Chemical Co. v. United States 476 U.S. 227 (1986)

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