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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  1. 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!

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