Forum: Start studying ethical use of intrusive tech

When the Global Positioning System (GPS) became viable via satellites in space many years ago, it was a given that soon, every object, moving or stationary, on earth could be tracked.

With an extensive mobile phone network that circumvents the obstructions posed by tall buildings and underground tunnels, connectivity with GPS will be increasingly used to monitor human and vehicular traffic (New ERP system to start in 2023 without distance charging, Sept 9).

New solutions to mobility and limiting carbon emission and greenhouse effects will become reality.

However, the prime concerns will still be individual privacy and freedom of movement, no matter how technology will evolve to provide novel solutions.

Already, watchful cameras with face recognition capability are common in many highly regulated environments.

It has been argued that only people who engage in illegal activities need fear such surveillance, assuming that law-abiding ones can ignore such intrusions of personal space.

However, it may be too naive an assumption that all law enforcement authorities are just and criminals don't have access to the data collected.

Phone scams already demonstrate the fallacy of such simplistic acceptance of intrusive technology.

It is not premature to be thinking about and tinkering with a new framework governing the ethical use of intrusive technology and respecting the boundaries of personal freedom of movement and privacy.

Enacting laws as the situation evolves is too reactive.

We need to get a head start on proactive anticipation and early thinking on such issues if we wish to have a more enduring principled framework to govern our actions on intrusion by technology.

Thomas Lee Hock Seng (Dr)