Satellites Are Watching You

Author:David Canton
Date:July 10, 2019

In an article titled “Soon, satellites will be able to watch you everywhere all the time – Can privacy survive?” MIT Technology Review questions how we deal with privacy and satellite surveillance. Satellites are becoming more pervasive, and have higher resolutions – capable of identifying people. Compounding the issue is that countries and entities outside of our borders are not subject to whatever standards our country might adopt.

Privacy as we know it focusses on consent. For things privacy laws deem personal, others can’t collect, use, or disclose it without our consent. That works fine for things we have some control and choice over – such as banking and health information. But that notion becomes unworkable when we don’t know information is being collected, used, or shared at all, let alone by who, and there is no practical way to avoid it or opt out.

As sensors get cheaper, more common, more accurate, and better able to communicate, and software gets more sophisticated – consent as a privacy control seems to fade in effectiveness. So how do we set ethical limits and norms on the collection, use, and disclosure of information about us in a surveillance society?

Here are some other situations to ponder:

  • UK police arrested someone who hid his face to deny consent when near a police camera and...

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