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Growth in surveillance, including drones, may be hard to scale back after coronavirus

Growth in surveillance, including drones, may be hard to scale back after coronavirus

In an interesting article in The Guardian, experts warn that the increased surveillance, including drone surveillance, may be hard to scale back once the Coronavirus pandemic is behind us.

A team of reporters from around the world write for The Guardian that:

Governments in at least 25 countries are employing vast programmes for mobile data tracking, apps to record personal contact with others, CCTV networks equipped with facial recognition, permission schemes to go outside and drones to enforce social isolation regimes.

One of the world’s foremost experts on mobile phone surveillance said the pandemic had created a “9/11 on steroids” that could lead to grave abuses of power.

“Most of these measures don’t have sunset clauses. They could establish what many people are describing as a new normal,” Ron Deibert, who heads the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, said in an interview with the Guardian.

In Europe, some of the world’s most privacy-conscious governments are collecting telecom data, employing drones and copying contact-tracing apps pioneered in Asia. In the US, Apple and Google have announced they will open up their mobile operating systems to allow for similar apps, which will run on iPhones and Android phones alike.

“This isn’t just an issue with authoritarian governments. This is happening across the world,” said Samuel Woodhams, the digital rights lead at the London-based Top10VPN, who has compiled an index of new surveillance measures related to the coronavirus outbreak. “A lot of the technologies we’re seeing are alarmingly similar.”

Whether that surveillance is eventually rolled back will depend on public oversight.

You can read the entire article here.

What do you think about the increased surveillance as a result of the coronavirus outbreak? Are you concerned that it will be hard to revert once the crisis is behind us? Specifically what do you think about the use of drones in this situation? Let us know what you think the comments below.

Haye Kesteloo

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