The coronavirus pandemic has led to an unprecedented global surge in digital surveillance, researchers and privacy advocates around the world have said, with billions of people facing enhanced monitoring that may prove difficult to roll back. 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. The methods have been adopted by authoritarian states and democracies alike and have opened lucrative new markets for companies that extract, sell, and analyse private data. 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. “I think we have to be really vigilant about that to make sure there are appropriate safeguards in place because the potential for the abuse of power is pretty extreme … so it’s… Read full this story
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