Much like how air travel was fundamentally transformed after 9/11—justified by national security and the “war on terror”—the world today is fundamentally different than it was before COVID-19. Freedoms that were taken for granted in 2019 were abruptly taken away in 2020, again justified by national security and public health.
But now, even after COVID-19 has been neutralized, technologies said to have been used to monitor and track the virus have not gone away. On the contrary, they are still being used and expanded around the world, showing that the mass surveillance of the world’s population was not about COVID-19 after all, but about something much bigger with the potential to transform freedom as we know it. to eliminate.
A year-long investigation by The Associated Press reveals a worrying global trend in which pandemic-era mass surveillance technologies are being used as control tools.
“In the dizzying early days of the pandemic, millions of government officials around the world said they needed confidential data for new technical tools that could help stop the spread of the coronavirus. In return, governments received a firehose of individuals’ private health records, photos capturing their facial measurements and their home addresses,” noted AP.1
Now individuals are finding that data is being used against them – to restrict travel and activism, in law enforcement cases and even being shared with spy agencies. As Internet watchdog Citizen Lab’s John Scott-Railton told the AP, “Any intervention that increases government power to surveil individuals has a long tail and is a ratchet system. Once you get it, it is very unlikely that it will ever go away.”2
In China, citizens had to install mobile phone apps that generate QR codes based on their health status. A green result, based on PCR test results, allows a person to move freely, while a yellow or red result restricts travel or requires house arrest. After widespread demonstrations, the country said it would no longer enforce health regulations at the national level to allow inter-provincial travel.