In Episode 3, hosts Walt Shaub and Virginia Heffernan grapple with government surveillance, focusing in particular on facial recognition technology and the ways that the government could — and already does — abuse this pervasive technology. Facial recognition expert Jake Laperruque describes the arms race between technology companies developing new software to be used by law enforcement on one side, and lawmakers and privacy advocates working to regulate this fast-developing technology on the other. Framing privacy as a human rights issue, Laperruque reminds us of the abuses of the post-9/11 era, when the government carried out indiscriminate surveillance of Muslim communities.
In our next interview, we step back and look more broadly at how targeted surveillance of all types can harm vulnerable populations, a problem that technology like facial recognition software exacerbates. Law professor and former prosecutor Paul Butler explains how the Supreme Court has unleashed the forces of control on minority populations. Finally, Maya Wang, the senior China researcher for Human Rights Watch, paints a picture of the future we must avoid. As always, the show concludes with ideas about the actions listeners can take to help address these wrongs. This episode features some good news, as the hosts break down a recent victory by privacy advocates that forced the IRS to back off a plan that would have force some Americans to use problematic facial ID tech to access their tax records.