Op-Ed: Snowden warns of US data surveillance with new pandemic tech – Digital Journal

Snowden made the claim at an interview with the Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival.

US government wants phone data from Facebook and Google

The US government is reported to be in talks with tech companies Google and Facebook to use anonymized location day from phones to help them in tracking the spread of COVID-19. Some commentators say this could be a helpful too for health authorities in tracking the spread of the virus but others are concerned about the potential for the data to be shared by the government.

Snowden’s concerns

Snowden worries that government’s could extend the access they have to people’s personal information during a crisis but then use it to monitor their actions. For example he suggests that during the COVID-19 pandemic government could claim that they were worried about public health and order every fitness tracker to look at measures like pulse and heart rate, and demand access to data about that kind of activity. Even after the virus is gone the data will remain available to share and governments could use new causes such as terrorist threats to justify continually analyzing and gathering people’s data.

During the interview Snowden said: “They already know what you’re looking at on the Internet. They already know where your phone is moving. Now they know what your heart rate is, what your pulse is. What happens when they start to intermix these and apply artificial intelligence to it?” It is not clear that the government would know about what particular person’s phone or other data they are receiving though if the data can be anonymized.

Snowden’s previous revelations

Back in 2013 Snowden revealed details of secret surveillance programs that were being carried out by the National Security Agencies. After Snowden’s revelations were publish in both the Washington Post and the Guardian the government declassified some information about the programs and began to publish annual reports about the program but the surveillance carried on.

In January of 2018 the legislation authorizing the surveillance over the Internet for national security purposes was extended.

Snowden faces charges of espionage and theft of government property in the US but managed to escape the country and flee to Russia where he has lived since 2013.

This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of


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