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New Surveillance And Control Technologies For Security Purposes


Following consultations on the use of biometric data, the Commission has given itself the mandate to advise not only on this subject but also on other technologies that can be used for mass surveillance purposes. security. Mass surveillance can be considered a characteristic feature of modern societies. Its importance is matched only by the means put in place to collect information. Among these means, the new technologies of surveillance and control (NTSC) and especially the ways to deploy them raise ethical issues. They ask the following question: in societies concerned with security, what place remains for individual liberties and respect for private life?

In its opinion, the Commission focused on three of these technologies: biometric systems, video surveillance and radio frequency identification (RFID). After examining the notions of security, feeling of insecurity, risk, and surveillance, the Commission gives an overview of the technical and ethical aspects of each of the selected NTSC. The fundamental values in democratic societies are at the heart of the ethical issues addressed: the evaluation of the relevance, effectiveness, and reliability of the NTSC, the proportionality of the response to insecurity, social acceptability, consent, compliance and the protection of personal information.

Public Consultations

There is no doubt that the events of September 11, 2001, have changed the game of security, whether at the national or international level. It is the context of the intensification of control measures and the increasing availability of biometric systems of all kinds to establish or validate the identity of a person who has brought the Commission on Ethics in Science and in technology to question the ethical issues associated with such a situation. The fundamental ethical question was: is there a correlation between the means of control and surveillance put in place or envisaged by biometric technology and the intended purpose?

When the Commission chose biometrics as a reflection theme for the production of an opinion, it first produced a discussion paper and a consultation document. In its discussion paper, the Commission first wondered about the concept of security and its evolution over time. She then gave an update on the technical aspects of biometrics, on its scope of application and on the normative frameworks (laws, regulations or other) that allow marking the domain, then to report the ethical issues raised by the application. biometric technologies in a pluralistic and democratic society. The Commission did not intend to provide answers to the ethical questioning it proposed but wanted to submit it to public debate, through consultation with both experts and the public.

The concept paper and the consultation paper formed the basis for a public forum on issues raised by the use of biometric data in October 2004. The forum was organized jointly with the Raoul-Dandurand Chair in strategic and diplomatic studies from the Université du Québec à Montréal.

The consultation paper was also used to set up an online consultation that invited the public or any organization interested in the subject to submit comments or a brief to enrich the Commission’s thinking.

Biometric data

This is the context of the intensification of control measures and the increasing availability of biometric systems of all kinds to establish or validate the identity of a person who brings the Commission on Ethics in Science and Technology to the public. to question the ethical issues associated with such a situation. And to ask the following question, fundamental in terms of ethics: Is where the correlation between the means of control and monitoring implemented or envisaged through biometric technology and the purpose sought?

In this discussion paper, the Commission first examines the concept of security and its evolution over time. It then reviews the technical aspects of biometrics, its fields of application and the normative frameworks (laws, regulations or other) that mark the field, and then point out the ethical issues raised by the application of the rules. biometric technologies in a pluralistic and democratic society. However, the Commission does not intend to provide answers to the ethical questioning it proposes, but submit this discussion paper to public debate, through consultation of experts and the public on the subject.

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