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America IdentifiedBiometric Technology and Society$
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Lisa S. Nelson

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780262014779

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262014779.001.0001

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(p.105) 4 Anonymity
America Identified

Lisa S. Nelson

The MIT Press

This chapter sheds light on how biometric systems of identification can become a potential threat to anonymity and decisional autonomy. Biometric technology can be a potential threat to anonymity and decisional autonomy when it uses the personal information of an individual unnecessarily. Anonymity and decisional autonomy are considered important to secure some extent of private space for political opposition and the expression of ideas in the public sphere, but surveillance technologies that use personal information about physical activities, transactions, and communications can put these two aspects of freedom and liberty at risk. Anonymity, which is well protected under the First Amendment, does not reflect that there is an absence of identity; on the contrary, it shows a mask for identity that serves many purposes. Furthermore, the chapter reflects on several court cases that show how surveillance technologies are used as state power.

Keywords:   anonymity, biometric systems, personal information, freedom, liberty, identity, First Amendment

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