Covid-related tech was exploited for mass surveillance, just as we were warned
New revelations show that the Covid pandemic has allowed for governments and Big Tech to expand the surveillance-industrial complex that tightens the state’s grip on thought and movement.
A recent batch of Twitter internal documents released by Elon Musk via journalist David Zweig on the platform itself reveals that one of the first meetings that the Biden Administration requested with Twitter executives was on the topic of Covid vaccines and specific high-profile accounts that deviated from the official narrative.
“Twitter did suppress views – many from doctors and scientific experts – that conflicted with the official positions of the White House. As a result, legitimate findings and questions that would have expanded the public debate went missing,” Zweig wrote.
He added that “with Covid, this bias bent heavily toward establishment dogmas,” and cited examples of various experts, including prominent epidemiologists, whose views were censored as a result of being qualified by the non-scientists at Twitter as Covid “misinformation.”
We’ve also learned from previous Musk-approved Twitter file releases of the cozy relationship between government officials – including those working for the Pentagon, CIA, and FBI – and big US social media outlets like Twitter, which routinely cooperated on various government priorities and agendas ranging from framing foreign wars to promoting certain narratives about geopolitical competitors (like Russia) under the guise of fighting “disinformation.” All of this in an ostensibly democratic country that’s supposed to value free speech and debate.
It’s only now, when most Westerners are jabbed, that taboos on scientific information about the true efficacy of the vaccines (particularly on new variants), associated side-effects and risks (like myocarditis), and the high protective value of post-infection immunity, are being loosened and no longer routinely suppressed or vilified as dangerous fake news.
Just like they do with war propaganda, the US government and its Western allies went out of their way to manufacture consent, and they used the very same Big Tech platforms that were once the great hope of those seeking to break free from more controlled corporate media. And the gatekeepers of those platforms, like those at Twitter, were far too keen to abide. Under the guise of combating disinformation, citizens ended up applauding censorship and descending in lynch mobs on those designated as the current threat to virtuous Western societal norms – be they “Russians” or “anti-vaxxers.”
From Covid tracking to mass surveillance
And that’s not all that the pandemic has in common with other crises shamelessly exploited by governments. A new report by the Associated Press has found that the pandemic permitted the expansion of global surveillance, with police in multiple countries using “technologies and data to halt travel for activists and ordinary people, harass marginalized communities and link people’s health information to other surveillance and law enforcement tools. In some cases, data was shared with spy agencies.”
According to the AP’s investigation, Israel’s domestic security agency, Shin Bet, has used contact tracing technology to track people located near a zone of unrest, sending them threatening messages even if they weren’t involved.
China’s health QR code system, managed by three separate levels of government, has required that Covid passes flash green to take a plane or train, but those en route to protests have inexplicably and routinely found their passes turning red.
Authorities in India reportedly used the Covid mask mandate as a pretext to scan faces with hand-held devices using facial recognition software, which can be added or compared to a preexisting database of criminals.
The watchdogs for Australia’s intelligence services disclosed in November 2020 that the country’s Covid contact tracing app was used by the spies to collect data on citizens – “incidentally” – even though it was deemed to be virtually useless in uncovering unidentified Covid cases. But Aussie police have since used the Covid app’s check-in data as an investigative tool, according to the AP.
The US government has used CIA-linked data company, Palantir Technologies, to “power the digital operating system for the U.S. public health response to the pandemic,” according to a February 2022 press release from the company, which has been awarded multiple contracts worth tens of millions of dollars amid the crisis.
Remember when the global war on terror scared people so badly that US-led Western democracies, with little pushback, set up a global surveillance panopticon under the guise of keeping everyone safe? Well, the Covid scare has been used by governments all over the world to expand their surveillance networks – all the while telling their citizens that it’s being done to keep them safe from a virus.
It’s not like no one predicted this would happen. “Do you truly believe that when the first wave, this second wave, the 16th wave of the coronavirus is a long-forgotten memory, that these capabilities will not be kept? That these datasets will not be kept? No matter how it is being used, what is being built is the architecture of oppression,” warned NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in an April 2020 interview. “We could have a parallel epidemic of authoritarian and repressive measures following close if not on the heels of a health epidemic,” said the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in April 2020, while referring to Covid as a “pathogen of repression.” “Civil society can expect governments to justify using digital surveillance beyond the pandemic as a means to protect national security, implement governance priorities, and serve future public health interests,” the Cargenie Endowment for International Peace warned in October 2021.
Just a few days ago, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who just retired as Director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden, lamented that “we’re living in a progressively anti-science era.” But if he is looking to place the blame for the blow that science has taken as a result, then he should do some soul-searching along with his government colleagues who chose manipulation and information control over open scientific discussion and debate. And where are the demands for the Covid-related mass surveillance to be immediately dismantled? It shouldn’t just be forgotten about so that it can stick around to be exploited or further enhanced during the next big government authoritarian bender. It needs to go.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.