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During President Obama's visit to the University of Iowa earlier this year, cameras were everywhere.

The proliferation of small cameras with the ability to identify individuals is complicating privacy issues.

Credit: IowaNow

As small cameras with the ability to identify individuals proliferate in public places and data storage prices drop, privacy issues are growing increasingly complicated.

About 10,000 people already are using a Google Glass prototype, and in Russia at least 1 million cars are equipped with dashboard cameras aimed at tackling insurance fraud problems. U.S. police officers are beginning to wear video cameras on their uniforms to record interactions, and drones are being used to spy on individuals in their yards and other locations.

Advances in camera technology have many positive uses, such as helping people with brain injuries to recover their memories and reading street signs and labels to those with vision impairments. However, complex privacy issues also are emerging, especially with the advent of facial-recognition technologies, which businesses and governments are beginning to use to find data about individuals by combing through billions of online images.

With ubiquitous cameras and new algorithms, a person's movements in the near future could be constantly monitored and strangers could immediately identify a person on the street. New laws must carefully reflect a balance between public good and personal liberty.

From The Economist
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