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Coronavirus Tracking in Today’s Surveillance Society

Wondering where Big Data has been throughout the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic? The New York Times has now published an article outlining how different countries are using location tracking, facial recognition, and app-based tracking to analyze the spread of the coronavirus and compliance with government lockdown orders. The level to which we live in a capitalist surveillance society—largely outside of government oversight—remains chilling (see “The New York Times Reveals How Completely Our Every Move Is Tracked,” 19 December 2019). But if this data is already being collected without our knowledge and explicit permission, it’s a small success to see it used in the public health interest. We can only hope that the utility of this data during the coronavirus crisis prompts future discussions about how to safeguard personal privacy instead of greasing the slippery slope of personal data becoming even less protected and more commodified.

New York Times coronavirus article headline

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Comments About Coronavirus Tracking in Today’s Surveillance Society

Notable Replies

  1. I have half-jokingly suggested that there should be an app that records all iPhones that have been within 1 metre of that iPhone in the past 48 hours. I guess, in theory, Google/Facebok already has this info for Android phones.

  2. And as the New York Times report I linked to last year shows, independent location tracking companies have this information for iPhone users too, thanks to third-party apps people use and grant location access.

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