Thanks to coronavirus. The privacy battle may tilt in favour of surveillance.
The battle for data and information goes way back. Governments, intelligence agencies, and corporations have been after people’s data for a long time. From deploying an army of spies to using innovative technologies, the aim has been the same.
Information. Manipulation. Control.
The recent years saw an uptick in the clamour for privacy. The fight against the evil got stronger. New technologies promised an era of protection.
Could this coronavirus episode reverse the privacy gains of the past? Likely.
Here’s why privacy is dead.
1. Caught with the pants-down
Governments were caught with their pants-down. Now to control the pandemic, they are deploying all tools available at their disposal. Governments will not take another chance anytime. They will amend laws and bring extra ones to gain easy and timely access to the citizens.
2. The new normal
Several countries such as South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and Israel have deployed apps to track users and their behaviours. Once the crisis is over, the tracking is likely to stay, in the interest of safety. The normal will be reset.
3. Fear Factor
Conspiracy theories aside, the fear factor is real. The fear of what might happen during an outbreak, how to tide over the crisis, and the need to protect loved ones are overwhelming. Vultures are waiting to prey on the fear. Invasive solutions, in return for user data such as tracking bracelets, will flood the markets once the crisis is beyond us.
4. Rules of Engagement in Public Spaces
Whether or not we like it, public spaces will change. The access to public spaces will be controlled and will require adhering to strict guidelines. It may not come as a surprise, if an agency clears your travel plan first, based on the recent health records.
5. Access to Services
Like public spaces, access to services will also transform. if you are looking for certain privilege, such as visiting an office, you need to show good health first. You want your kid to study in a physical school, it will be imperative to undergo a threat assessment.
The author Yuval Noah Harari, in a recent open letter, says this: “When people are given a choice between privacy and health, they will usually choose health.”
It doesn’t require a genius to guess what people will choose after a severe bitter episode.
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