The Covid-19 pandemic is ushering in a new era of digital surveillance and rewiring the world’s sensibilities about data privacy.
Democrats have long told us that we should ‘never let a good crisis go to waste’, and the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis is certainly being exploited to its fullest potential. Under the guise of fighting this global pandemic, digital surveillance is being rolled out at a level and on a scale that only used to exist in futuristic tales like Minority Report and The Matrix. Remember how groundbreaking and startling to watch the special effects in Minority Report were? That was science fiction then, but we are right now going well past that now in 2020.
Right now, there are roughly 5.3 billion mobile devices in use by people around the world, connected to the world wide web, forming a digital surveillance network of biblical proportion. That net is now being accessed, in the name of COVID-19 coronavirus, to track everyone’s movement and inter-personal connectivity. One thing is for sure, when the crisis is over, the digital surveillance tracking network will remain in place. Welcome to the new normal.
How The COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic Is Being Used To Create A Digital Surveillance Society
FROM THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Governments are imposing new digital surveillance tools to track and monitor individuals. Many citizens have welcomed tracking technology intended to bolster defenses against the novel coronavirus. Yet some privacy advocates are wary, concerned that governments might not be inclined to unwind such practices after the health emergency has passed.
Authorities in Asia, where the virus first emerged, have led the way. Many governments didn’t seek permission from individuals before tracking their cellphones to identify suspected coronavirus patients. South Korea, China and Taiwan, after initial outbreaks, chalked up early successes in flattening infection curves to their use of tracking programs.
In Europe and the U.S., where privacy laws and expectations are more stringent, governments and companies are taking different approaches. European nations monitor citizen movement by tapping telecommunications data that they say conceals individuals’ identities.
American officials are drawing cellphone location data from mobile advertising firms to track the presence of crowds—but not individuals. Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google recently announced plans to launch a voluntary app that health officials can use to reverse-engineer sickened patients’ recent whereabouts—provided they agree to provide such information. Authorities in Moscow said last month they used facial-recognition technology to catch a Chinese woman who broke quarantine and was walking the streets illegally. The police in Derbyshire, England, used drones to spot residents venturing out to a scenic overlook. Kansas recently said it used third-party GPS tracking data to monitor whether people were abiding calls to stay at home.
A little more than half of Americans now back anonymized government smartphone tracking, according to a Harris Poll survey of about 2,000 people conducted between March 28 and 30. In another Harris survey last year, Americans indicated data privacy was the biggest issue facing companies.
The perceived invasiveness of such technologies varies, but the tent poles are shifting, said Joseph Cannataci, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on privacy rights. “Things are going too fast, and not enough scrutiny is being applied,” said Mr. Cannataci, whose next report to the U.N. General Assembly in October will address coronavirus surveillance and privacy.
Security professionals say the coronavirus crisis could become a watershed moment similar to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which ushered in new government surveillance powers around the world in the name of protecting public safety. Jim Harper, an original member of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee, said that once such surveillance powers are in place, they rarely recede and can be repurposed as a political tool.
Surveillance efforts this time around have a new ally: public-health experts. They say some form of digital tracking will be necessary in the months ahead, even as people return to more normal lives after city lockdowns relax. Billions will live with a continuing coronavirus threat as the world waits for a vaccine. READ MORE
Apple and Google’s Coronavirus Tracking App
This is what we’ve come to, our mobile phones ‘automatically exchanging their identifier beacons’ with each other, is that crazy or what? Please note that while this app is ‘voluntary’ in the beginning, it will not be voluntary after they build it into the system operating software.
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