VPN Review Site Creates Live Digital Rights Tracker To Compile Coronavirus-Related Surveillance Efforts

from the invaluable-resources-in-these-super-screwed-up-times dept

Since lots and lots of (mostly government) people seem to agree these particularly desperate times call for particularly privacy-invading desperate measures, it only makes sense someone should be tracking the trackers. Enter Samuel Woodhams of Top10VPN, who has compiled a handy list of who's hoovering who to keep tabs on COVID-19 cases and coronavirus carriers.

Woodhams says not everything listed here in Top10VPN's "Digital Rights Tracker" is necessarily bad. It's just that a lot of it is.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, governments around the world have implemented a range of digital tracking, physical surveillance and censorship measures in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.

Some of these may well be proportionate, necessary and legitimate during these unprecedented times. However, others have been rushed through legislative bodies and implemented without adequate scrutiny.

There's a lot to keep track of. Woodhams points out 14 new digital tracking efforts have been introduced in March alone, with Europe responsible for half of that number.

For instance, Singapore's government has released a tracking app that uses Bluetooth connections to identify people who have been "in close proximity" of COVID-19 patients. Poland's government has also released an app that tracks people self-quarantining by prompting users to send periodic geolocated selfies to the government.

All across Europe, mobile providers are in discussions with governments to utilize the location data they've harvested to track patients, possible carriers, and the general spread of the virus.

But it's not just data. It's also physical tracking of citizens around the world. Multiple governments have deployed drones to enforce lockdowns, curfews, and social distancing. Meanwhile, Russia and China continue to be Russia and China, only with a thin veneer of actually giving a shit if their citizens live or die.

On Friday, 21 February, Reuters reported that Moscow’s mayor had announced the use of facial recognition to help ensure people remained at home.

According to the article, the mayor wrote on his website: “Compliance with the regime is constantly monitored, including with the help of facial recognition systems and other technical measures.”

[...]

Since the outbreak of the virus, the Chinese regime has used a host of surveillance measures to try and stem the spread of the disease.

This has included, and not limited to, the use of drones, facial recognition cameras and mobile phone monitoring.

Two of the country’s largest state-owned telecommunication operators, China Unicom and China Telecom, asked citizens in Wuhan to provide the personal information in order to link them to their devices and allow more effective monitoring.

Top10VPN's tracker also tracks censorship -- something that has gone hand-in-hand with the virus' spread from Wuhan, China to other countries with governments similarly desirous of controlling the narrative. China has censored local reporting and kicked out foreign journalists. Its reach extends to Hong Kong, where it has managed to bury research linking game meat markets to SARS and COVID-19.

Egypt has revoked press credentials from two foreign journalists and Singapore's government has blocked local access to States Time Review's Facebook page -- one run by Alex Tan, a prominent critic of the Singaporean government.

There's much more covered here, including internet shutdowns in several countries and restricted internet access in regions where governments are seeking to control access to reporting. You may as well bookmark this page as it's going to be continuously updated as more reports of tracking/surveillance/censorship roll in.

A crisis is an opportunity for government expansion. This pandemic is opportunity knocking on hundreds of doors simultaneously. If we're not careful, many of us are going to end up with the surveillance state we never wanted and the always-on tracking we never deserved.

Filed Under: coronavirus, covid-19, laws, privacy, surveillance, tracking


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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Mar 2020 @ 5:53am

    That’s all very interesting. But let me tell you two indisputable facts: (1) the corona virus will be first subdued and then extinguished by America, and (2) the next American election will confirm, without a doubt, that socialism, as well as corona, are dead in America. One connects to the other. Some people will work together, and others will be too outraged. Sides will form. And the winners will win. A great American system, defending and soon killing the infection of both corona and socialist ideology.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    A New Generation (profile), 25 Mar 2020 @ 6:56am

    I'll Bite

    Normally I wouldn't feed a troll but here we go.

    One you are definitely part of the outgoing generation in charge right now that from that post tells me you are scared which is fine with what's going on in the world right now.

    What your generation needs to accept which from my observations over the last 4 years or so is starting to realize what I already have is....... In 10 definitely by 15 years the baby bombers will have NO POWER anymore and my generation will finally get enough of us in office hopefully to turn the tide and bring a hybrid form of SOCIALISM to this country and finally get every major corporation who operates in the USA by the balls with proper common sense regulation.

    If someone from that party can please answer me how does it make sense that 1% of the population controls the majority of the money that has essentially ever existed on earth?

    Let me answer. It makes no fuckin sense when I see people who worry about more how to pay their food, basic healthcare, hell a freaking roof over your head all the while the 1% worry about you getting back to the office with what's going on now to make them more money while you put your life at risk while they sit safe at home. I say fuck you and the horse you rode in on, my generation is coming soon for all those big bonuses you CEO's get and redistribute to the common worker who needs it.

    Stay safe people out there and use common sense, Peace.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Mar 2020 @ 7:22am

      Re: I'll Bite

      You, my new friend, and unlike the typical side stepping disingenuous slippery bastards that post in this disease infected toilet, are a good writer. You seem nice too, even encouraging others to stay healthy. Assuming you live long enough to develop and test your ideology, I think you and I might be more similar than you might think, when you fully ripen.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        A New Generation (profile), 25 Mar 2020 @ 8:33am

        Re: Re: I'll Bite

        Just trying to break the norm. And maybe get one person to think outside the box for a micro second and be like "hey that does make a little sense"

        If I did that then I will call it a win for the day.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      ROGueS, 28 Mar 2020 @ 10:18am

      Re: I'll Bite

      Actually, best practice is to ALWAYS feed the trolls, because you will learn a lot about the(brutally) conformist/non-conformist culture around you in any discourse, and later, you will see those around you who "don't feed the trolls" as the exact back stabbing egoists, and smear campaign types that they are.

      So, start with the trolls but also apply common sense and rationality. We know what we are doing, which is preserving actual democracy, equality, and truth while subverting future megalomaniacs from misleading you.

      That said, your closing "Stay safe/Peace" is a contradiction and a paradox with zero correlation in reality.

      Safety, and peace have never worked well together in the culture you are ensnared in, and has not worked in any generation of Jewish-christian societies, ever. They are counter-intutive and incompatible premises.

      Especially here at Techdirt, we see this interplay quite strikingly, as the Techdirt Flag Brigade routinely hides "bad thoughts, and scary words" via its comment flagging system.

      SO, lets re-examine the (alleged)troll:

      It said:

      You, my new friend, and unlike the typical side stepping disingenuous slippery bastards that post in this disease infected toilet, are a good writer. You seem nice too, even encouraging others to stay healthy. Assuming you live long enough to develop and test your ideology, I think you and I might be more similar than you might think, when you fully ripen.

      Now, lets examine its speech and its alliteration, with a special mind towards noticing its dependence on false ideological presumptions.

      I think, in the future world, such analysis could be valuable cognizant of the errors in its speech, contrasted against its over arching narrative goals .

      What do you think?

      But I think hiding posts from the so-called "community" here at Techdirt denies the average, or budding linguist a chance to engage with evidence, much less form opinions about cultural artifacts like "fully ripen".

      Sure, maybe ROGS Analysis is delusional, or....something.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Mar 2020 @ 7:00am

    We can all practice extreme social distancing. Because every phone represents a car, or a disease, or ... whatever you want it to represent, right? And everyone knows that you only have to be within 6 feet of someone who is infected to automatically and irrevocably become infected yourself, despite the closed car windows!

    If everyone carries a spare throw-away phone, and exchanges it periodically with a random stranger, we can color in that "has been in proximity to a covid-19 person" real fast!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Upstream (profile), 25 Mar 2020 @ 7:50am

      Re:

      Old school flip phone with no SIM card is good. It will still call 911 if you need that, but very limited track-ability. Not no track-ability, but much less than "smart" phone.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Mar 2020 @ 10:44am

        Re: Re:

        You're kidding yourself. Cell phones of all generations connect to cell towers. Those connections are how all phones are tracked.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 25 Mar 2020 @ 11:27am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Not no track-ability, but much less than "smart" phone.

          Of course. But cell tower data is much less fine-grained that GPS, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth data.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      ROGueS, 28 Mar 2020 @ 10:46am

      Re: a Hawks Nest in Central Park?

      The human population must resume its tendencies towards intimate relationships, and Africans, Middle Easterners, and others must take heed of the writing on the(curently white, christian-type) wall.

      Good old, fucking P2P (person 2 person, Carl Rogers type communications, before the internet existed) and get the Freudian, Edward Bernays, Adolph Hitler and Goebbels zionists types out of our personal discussions.

      And, yeah, a little racism, a little history, a little skepticism, and a high alert against those who claim

      antishemititiscysticlism!

      is highly warranted, considering what those types have done to our inter-personal communications systems throughout HISTORY.

      Those types are anathema to free speech, and discourse unfettered by their tribal-racist, eugenic boundaries.

      And, they need to be filtered, more than myself, or others who are aware of what they have done to others throughout history.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Andrea Iravani, 25 Mar 2020 @ 8:09pm

    Unfortunately it is not only Democrats that are being opportunistic about the coronavirus but Republicans as well! A bailout to the tune of $4 trillion for the Federal Reserve to dole out to whomever it chooses and $2 trillion to families.

    Bailing out these corrupt organized crime ring white collar criminals is getting nauseating. It is rewarding people for being corrupt, and rewarding businesses for failure and has the dangerous unintended consequence of preventing successful businesses from arising since they are incapable of competing with giant corporations on government welfare, the very same way that our corporations were unable to compete with Chinese corporations on Chinese government welfare.

    If a business is not profitable and if people are unwilling to use their money to support that business, the business has failed.

    The airline owned by Warren Buffett is being bailed out yet again, which is extremely offensive to the average American. If Warren Buffett was not required to pay TSA for harrassing his passengers, the business would be more profitable. The TSA exists strictly for the TSA. It has never prevented a terrorist attack and is an extreme 4th amendment rights abuse!

    Nobody needs Facebook or amy of the other tech companies, but particularly Facebook, whose average employee salary is $230,000 and Mark Zuckerberg has a 700 acre estate on Native Hawiian land that is all paid for by tax payers, which is obscene. If Zuckerberg made his fortune without gargantuan government subsidies, I would not be complaining, but he did no such thing. In fact, he ripped Facebook of from his high school, but couldn't figure out how to do it, so connived his two room mates into doing it for him. He is a psychopath and a predator. How his psychiatrist Mother does not see that baffles the mind!

    Too make matters worse, Zuckerberg is not alone. It is the Silicon Valley mentality, encouraged by UCLA Berkley and Stanford.

    It is hardly surprising that those that demanded safe spaces when the election didn't turn out the way that they wanted it to are now demanding total fascist control of everyone's bodies for mandatory testing, vaccinations, and confinement!

    Where is the National Organization of Women in all of this? Do women only get to choose what is done to their bodies regarding sex and abortion but nothing else? What kind of women's movement is that? Forced penetration is forced penetration and is rape as far as I'm concerned whether it is a needle in the shoulder, a swab in the throat or nose, brain raping directed energy weapons, or sexual assault.

    Sexual predation also includes surveillance. Do you ever hear any of these Silcon Valley women talking about women's rights not to be surveilled which endangers our lives and property?

    No, in fact there was a female physician on Loud and Clear with John Kiriakou and Brian Becker today advocating for cell phone surveilllance of coronavirus victims. Producer Nicole Rousell is a fascist that has been trying to destroy my rights to choose what I do with my body that has the audacity to run a segment on the show alledgedly for womem's rights claiming that all issues are womens issues, which must be true, unless the women on Loud and Clear disagree with you, and they will tell you what will be done to your body, whether you like it or not! It is the ultimate form of hypocrisy, and so is the entire show! The same goes for Patricia Gorky that runs a tech segment on the show! Too bad that she is not advocating for a women's right not to be surveilled!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      ROGueS, 28 Mar 2020 @ 11:51am

      Re: Research Organized Gang Stalking

      Look at that header, and do the research.

      Google "ROGS Bingo"

      I would like to talk to you.

      Yes, Kiriakou was a whistle blower, as are many gang stalking targets.

      I could use some help, analysing their anti-whistleblower activity and tactics.

      I dont care if that help comes from the Kremlin, China, Brazil, or Zimbabwe.

      And, I promise to return the favors.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ROGS, 29 Mar 2020 @ 12:06pm

    I think I like you, a lot

    Despite your feelings about China, I think that a lot of what you say is very spot on.

    This, for example:

    "It is hardly surprising that those that demanded safe spaces when the election didn't turn out the way that they wanted it to are now demanding total fascist control of everyone's bodies for mandatory testing, vaccinations, and confinement!

    Where is the National Organization of Women in all of this?""

    You might have missed the fact that womens organizations are now married to the police state', and'orgs like NOW totally passe', having been replaced by the communist front guard in the co-opted atheist movements, and in the running diarhea like commentary of shit faces like Jessica Valenti, etal.

    NOW is fully integrated into the gang stalking paradigm as useful, co-opted idiots, via community policing and your FBI, controlling dissent.

    Make sense, Andrea?

    Hillary Clinton was their rabbi.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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