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SONY’S Recording Contact Lenses: A Technological Innovation or An Invasion of Privacy?

In May of 2013, major technology conglomerate SONY, creator of the famous PlayStation, patented a smart contact lens. Since then, they have been developing the lens. The lens is equipped with sensors that differentiate between blinks and deliberate movements of the eyelid. Through these deliberate eyelid movements, you can trigger the lens to record video and take photos. While the science behind this lens is truly fascinating, I think that the more newsworthy parts of such an invention are the pressing ethical questions that surround it.

The implications for this smart lens are far-reaching in many aspects. When I first heard of this invention in-the-works, my mind immediately jumped to the extreme. I pictured an Orwellian future for our nation, with people constantly spying on one another and having no sense of privacy. I imagined every human interaction being recorded, and therefore a complete lack of trust between all people and the constant need to censor oneself.

However, I soon began to ponder the positive aspects of such an invention. I thought about how useful of a tool this could be for law enforcement. If officers were ordered to record every incident, courts could definitively determine whether or not police brutality was warranted in the many confusing events that have been transpiring recently in our nation.

But one question arose from this mental dilemma: is this lens constitutional? While the right of privacy is not explicitly stated in our constitution, many believe that it is alluded to in the ninth amendment, which states that

“No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.“    

This amendment has been used as justification for a plethora of monumental Supreme Court cases, beginning with Griswold v. Connecticut, which banned the right to disallow the use of contraception on the grounds that it broke marital privacy. This case set the precedent for many more cases involving privacy, such as Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion because of the same idea of privacy being a fundamental and inalienable right.

Seeing as the right of privacy has been established through many Supreme Court cases, and a device that records your interactions and movements is clearly a breach in your privacy, is this lens an unconstitutional idea? Besides this glaring issue lies the question of whether it will be a useful tool for spreading justice, or a menacing force that creates an atmosphere of distrust.

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