- Social media giants Facebook and Google are reportedly in talks with the White House over plans to utilize user data to fight the deadly coronavirus.
- Plans to track user’s movements are seemingly “moving along quickly.”
- This raises questions regarding privacy and government surveillance.
One of the unfortunate side effects of the coronavirus pandemic is that the population isn’t focused on much of anything else. What would have been front-page news weeks ago, is of no concern today.
We’re barely aware that the White House could collaborate with social media companies to track our movements.
The Government Has Clashed With Big Tech on Privacy-Related Issues Before
In 2016, there was a massacre in California, resulting in the death of 14 people. Authorities found three cell phones, one of which was still operational. It was an iPhone that required a code to unlock its data.
When the government made a request to Apple for a unique operating system, their request was denied.
As you can imagine, future president Donald Trump was not happy:
Apple ought to give the security for that phone, OK. What I think you ought to do is boycott Apple until such a time as they give that security number. How do you like that? I just thought of it. Boycott Apple.
Apple, to their credit, didn’t bend to the outright bullying of the U.S. government. Ironically, Facebook publicly supported the tech giant in its actions.
How times change.
The White House Is Seizing Advantage of the Coronavirus Pandemic
The world post-Covid-19 is a different place. People might not support big tech’s stance as much as they did in 2016.
The public is more willing to surrender their freedoms in a time of panic and crisis, as we saw after 9/11. If it comes in the name of “stopping the coronavirus,” anything is fair game, including mining user data to track our movements.
The fact that Google and Facebook are even considering handing over our information to the government in this manner should be alarming, but the media has barely touched it.
A deal like this between those who own our data and those who have long wanted access to it could be brokered, and most of us would be none the wiser.
Those of us horrified by privacy concerns will be asked if we want people to die and if we even care about the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
It’s Difficult to Put the Genie Back in the Bottle Once It’s Out
Most of us assume extraordinary circumstances call for extreme measures. I can agree with that.
To a point.
As we’ve seen with China, once the government gets this type of access, they rarely give it back.
There will come a day when the coronavirus is under control. Life will return to normal, and we’ll go back to doing what we did before the outbreak.
The only difference is that we’ll be doing it while under more scrutiny from the government. Hopefully, it’ll have been worth it.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.