How Coronavirus Might Help Surveillance Boom

Like 9/11 and the Patriot Act, the pandemic could be this era’s game-changing moment for modern surveillance.
March 20, 2020, 12:00pm

Yes, friends, this week’s CYBER podcast was recorded from the comfort of our apartments. Because, well, the very global and very serious COVID-19 pandemic has relegated us to there.

That said, today on the show we thought it would be important to discuss how coronavirus could affect the future of state and corporate surveillance. Like 9/11 and the quick enactment of the Patriot Act, there is already evidence of a boom for the surveillance industrial complex.

For example, one company is advertising how it can leverage video surveillance software to spot people who have a fever, Iran launched an app it claimed to diagnose coronavirus (which really just tracked its citizens), while the Israeli government has already given Shin Bet (its domestic police agency) access to secretive cellular location data to see who coronavirus patients have interacted with in an effort to stem the disease.

In other words, sometimes during a crisis companies react by exploiting a business opportunity and governments might look to increase their Big Brother powers. Motherboard editor-in-chief Jason Koebler joins host Ben Makuch on the show to explain more.