Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin Says Privacy In Physical Space Is ‘Rapidly Decreasing’ In Era Of Facial Recognition

Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum, has voiced his concerns about the diminishing privacy in physical spaces and emphasized the importance of online privacy.

What Happened: On Sunday, Buterin took to X, formerly Twitter, to express his views on the increasing invasion of privacy due to the rise in facial recognition technology. He stated, “Privacy in physical space is rapidly decreasing. Better privacy online is one of the few tools we have to restore a little bit of balance. Privacy is normal. Support privacy.”

Buterin’s tweet comes in response to an article discussing the risks associated with expressing dissent in an era of advanced facial recognition technology.

The article detailed the increasing use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement worldwide, focusing on how it impacts protesters by eroding anonymity and freedom of expression.

It shared personal stories of individuals affected by such surveillance, including the preventive detention of protesters. The piece also explored public opinion on the technology, with varying degrees of acceptance across different countries, and discusses its disproportionate use against minorities. The broader implications include a chilling effect on protests and potential shifts in democratic engagement.

Why It Matters: Recently, The Senate passed legislation renewing Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, despite objections from privacy advocates fearing expanded surveillance. President Joe Biden signed the bill after it cleared the House, following a tight vote amidst lobbying efforts against it. Despite promises of enhanced privacy protections, critics argued it legalized a significant expansion of spying powers, reported The Wall Street Journal.

This is not the first time Buterin has shown his support for privacy. In December 2022, he praised Apple Inc. for its user security update in iOS 16.2, which introduced end-to-end encryption for iCloud backups, including photographs and other data. Despite his criticism of Apple’s proprietary nature, he acknowledged the tech giant’s efforts to protect user privacy as a “positive step.”

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