A group called Fight for the Future has just launched a campaign calling for a national ban on government’s use of facial recognition technology.
The call, at BanFacialRecognition.com, may be justified.
But honestly, that’s one genie that’s not going back into the lamp any time soon.
Police, airline personnel, military officials, federal authorities, security folks, even retailers and corporate world execs — these are all forces that say they need the technology in order to keep America safe.
As founders themselves warned: the line between liberty and security is a thin one. Once the tradeoffs start, they’re hard to stop.
And in America, the ratchet toward security at the expense of individual liberty really began post-Sept. 11, when Americans, by and large, were in a panic.
Technology, however, adds a new element — one that privacy advocates see as a massive threat, filled with non-compromising strips of freedom.
“Silicon Valley lobbyists are disingenuously calling for light ‘regulation’ of facial recognition so they can continue to profit by rapidly spreading this surveillance dragnet,” according to Fight for the Future. “They’re trying to avoid the real debate: whether technology this dangerous should even exist.”
Evan Greer, deputy director of the group, says it doesn’t — that the “profound threat” to all of humanity that facial recognition poses does not justify its existence.
“We don’t need to regulate it,” she said. “We need to ban it entirely.”
The campaign comes amid a wave of fresh headlines, all pointing to the growing Big Government outcomes of Big Technology.
Or, as Red State put it in a late June piece: “Big Government and Big Tech Are Partnering To Track Us Everywhere.”
It is indeed a brave new world.
And much as Fight for the Future has a point — that facial recognition is likely leading America down a path of civil rights’ nightmare and Big Gov Eyes In The Skies — fact is: Congress won’t ban the technology.
“Big tech has spent $582M lobbying Congress,” Fox Business reported in May.
That’s a drop in the bucket of the money to be made.
So long as Big Money is involved, Big Tech — not to mention Big Government — is here to stay.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @ckchumley.
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