Like pretty much any other groundbreaking technology, biometrics has long carried the promise of great social benefit and the risk of potential abuse. It has always been exciting and controversial. But those qualities have only intensified as biometric technologies have advanced in their sophistication. Today, systems are emerging that can identify people through public security cameras or on the phone, possibly without their knowledge or consent. And that kind of sophistication is bringing a number of ethical issues to the fore.
There has been plenty of discussion of Amazon’s sale of biometric surveillance technology to police authorities, but that matter has served as a lightning rod in a much bigger storm. Free societies are now really starting to grapple with the social implications of highly advanced biometric and AI technologies, and the issues are far from settled. Here’s a sampling of where things stand:
In the UK, government authorities are starting to reckon with privacy and civil rights issues:
In the US, these issues are playing out in court…
… While private sector companies try to figure out the rest of the ethical morass:
And at the global level, the United Nations is starting to delve into the issues, too: