All across the world, starting with China, the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed for the proliferation of the surveillance state.
More than 100 rights groups are warning that governments and corporations are partnering as a collaborative force to employ big data and increase widespread surveillance that threatens freedoms and privacy, reported Reuters.
At the moment, the surveillance tools are being used to mitigate the spread of the virus, tracing infections back to patient zero, monitoring social distancing, and enforcing lockdowns. However, the virus is likely a cover for pervasive snooping.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Privacy International said without appropriate safeguards, surveillance tools could remain in place even after the virus has been eradicated, which would erode people’s freedoms on a long enough timeline.
“An increase in state digital surveillance powers, such as obtaining access to mobile phone location data, threatens privacy, freedom of expression and freedom of association,” the groups said.
Edward Snowden, last week warned that the temporary mass surveillance, built to combat the virus, will not be so temporary, and the new measures are the new normal. He said the virus is the perfect cover to usher in the Orwellian mass surveillance state and will long outlast the virus.
Aaron Kesel of ActivistPost recently pointed out that the virus “is proving to be the Trojan horse that justifies increased digital surveillance via our smartphones.”
“China isn’t the only country looking towards smartphones to monitor their citizens; Israel and Poland have also implemented their own spying to monitor those suspected or confirmed to be infected with the COVID-19 virus. Israel has gone the more extreme route, and has now given itself authority to surveil any citizen without a court warrant.