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The Morality (or lack thereof) of Seemingly Ubiquitous Facial Recognition Technology

Take a moment to think about the many places you drive or walk to in the typical week.  Most people go to work, the grocery store, the gym, restaurants, and a couple other places in any given week.  Though few know it, their image is captured while driving and walking to and from each of these destinations.  Unless you are located in a small rural town, there are cameras positioned throughout your city.  From street corner cameras to store security cameras and beyond, the eye in the sky is always watching.  Now that coronavirus is forcing social distancing, the situation is getting even worse with the use of camera-equipped drones.  It is becoming quite apparent we are quickly transitioning to a dystopian “Big Brother” society as described by George Orwell in his novel 1984.

Is It Moral to Record People in Public?

Most people agree they do not like the idea of being recorded while in public places.  However, we aren’t really doing much about it, are we?  As Americans, we have a natural hesitance to trust government at all levels.  However, there has been shockingly little recoil against the use of cameras throughout public spaces.  If the current generation of Americans is unwilling to fight back against constant video recording in cities and even some suburbs, what are the chances the next generation, a group surely to be knee-deep in tech gadgets, will have a problem with ubiquitous video surveillance?  As time progresses, ongoing video capture featuring facial recognition technology will be seen as normative, regardless of whether it is moral or immoral.

The Case Against Camera-equipped Drones

There are laws on the books that bar the use of drones at certain altitudes as there is the potential for these flying machines to become trapped within jet engines and subsequently causing a fiery crash.  However, the NYPD and other authorities are perfectly free to fly camera-equipped drones below altitudes at which planes travel to capture video and police the masses.  This is a disturbing technological progression yet those in government are eager to argue an eye in the sky is necessary to ensure social distancing during the coronavirus era.  Furthermore, arguments are made that drones could rapidly deploy to the scene of a crime and capture the image of a criminal on video in less time than it would take a police officer to make his or her way through traffic and hopefully nab the perpetrator.

Though the merits of camera-equipped drones detailed above certainly sound convincing, there needs to be a society-wide pushback against this violation of our privacy.  No one should have the right to fly a camera-equipped drone into a public space, regardless of whether they are a member of the police force, government, or another entity.  Such flying cameras will inevitably be used for nefarious purposes such as peeking down a woman’s blouse, looking into a private citizen’s home window, and so on.  Though there is certainly some risk in a traditional reliance on authorities to police the public on foot and by way of automobiles, this conventional approach keeps our privacy and our civil liberties intact.

Freedom of Movement Without Big Brother’s Observation

It won’t be long until cameras can track your every movement with facial recognition technology as occurs in the increasingly-dystopian China.  This means the government, police, and other security services providers will know exactly where you are at all moments.  If a corrupt police officer or government worker wants to rob your home or harm you, he or she will rely on facial recognition technology to track your location and compromise you or your property with remarkable efficiency.  Furthermore, those who attend political rallies, protests, and other get-togethers considered a threat to the status quo might be closely monitored as facial recognition technology ensures their whereabouts are known at all times.

In short, facial recognition is being packaged as a means of preventing crime yet those who use this technology have the latent motive of controlling people for their own purposes.  It can be said without a hint of doubt that facial recognition technology is completely immoral and should have no place in our once-free society.

Patrick R

Patrick R

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