In an effort to keep citizens safe, state authorities have rapidly implemented various emergency plans to curb the spread of COVID-19. In South Korea, the movements of infected citizens are being broadcasted via public text message. In Israel, the government has approved a law to track smartphones belonging to those suspected of being infected. In the United States, the government is in talks with Google (NASDAQ:) and Facebook (NASDAQ:) to access location data, and in the United Kingdom, data giant Palantir is merging data for the National Health Service to inform the nation’s response. The extent to which governments can leverage technology to surveil and enforce restrictions is clearer than ever.
As these measures continue rolling out, citizens are starting to realize some of the consequences of previous privacy-related decisions and seeing the relative lack of control they have over their personal information. As we saw from the U.S. in 2005, the provisions of the Patriot Act passed in 2001 became permanent, and the emergency measures that are protecting us today in times of crisis can stay for good.
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