The basis for surveillance is Covid

In the course of the corona policy, the right to the protection of one’s own data comes under the pressure of a polyphonic choir. Here are some selected voices. For example, the head of the mobile communications group Vodafone Germany just called for “jumping over our shadow” when it comes to data protection, as media reports say: mobility data could help to cope with the crisis faster and better. Currently, however, this is not permitted because of the “local data protection”. In view of the current “case numbers”, however, he wonders “whether we shouldn’t even jump over our shadow now”. ( … ) “Personalized data would be a far-reaching step, but even that should be something to think about and talk about.”

The Blackrock servant Friedrich Merz recently stated, according to the media, that politics and law are “far too much focused on individual data protection”, even if this is at the expense of the general public. According to Merz, the corona warning app is ineffective, as it does not allow a follow-up of the infected. A tracking app, such as that used successfully in South Korea or Japan, is “much more efficient”. A guest article in the” Welt " argues this way:

“Our data protection prevents an effective corona warning app: The federal government is of the opinion that there must be no compromises on data protection – while the other fundamental rights are massively restricted. But it is not permissible to absolute a single fundamental right and to sacrifice the other fundamental rights for it.”

The phrase “misinterpreted data protection”

And the NZZ is astonished that “information technology is not being used sufficiently to combat the corona pandemic”. In various Asian countries – especially South Korea and Taiwan – movement profiles based on mobile phone data are used to track contacts and isolate infected people, the newspaper said. Not only China carries out an information technology observation of the population for disease control, but also democratic states. Because some of these countries also wanted to secure the political reliability of the people with similar instruments, the corresponding techniques would be dispensed with in Western constitutional states, complains the NZZ and asks:

“And is there really a serious risk in Germany (or its European neighbours) that an authoritarian government will start to totally monitor citizens? This thesis is supported by some concerned data protectionists. It is founded here and today by nothing.”

The new technology is not always enthusiastically welcomed, which is also due to misuse by security authorities. In Singapore, for example, there is currently great resentment that the data collected is not only used for “health protection”, but also for law enforcement, as media reports report: “The Ministry of the Interior confirmed that the data could be viewed by the police for criminal investigations.“This process is reminiscent of the guest lists from restaurants confiscated by the German police – a practice that also contradicted the announcements that the lists only served to “protect health”.

“The state must be allowed to evaluate movement profiles”

Stefan Dräger, the head of the world’s largest manufacturer of ventilators, has also spoken out, as reported by “Welt": “The state must be allowed to evaluate and use movement profiles.“According to the media, Dräger continued:

“In order to be able to live better with Corona, one could think about softening data protection and following the example of Asian countries. But hardly anyone dares to say that.”

According to Dräger, the state must be allowed to evaluate movement profiles and use the knowledge about who has contact with whom at which location. He receives help for these far-reaching monitoring plans from Uwe Brandl, President of the Bavarian Community Day, as reported by the media. Brandl considers the 15-kilometer radius of motion that is determined by the coronas to be difficult to control. As an alternative, he suggests reading movement profiles from mobile phones.

“Because of Corona”: access to locations, movement profiles, and address books

Wherever the journey might go for us, if you follow the voices quoted here, you can see from the deterrent examples of many countries: “The corona pandemic is rapidly accelerating digital mass surveillance,” explains the initiative “Bread for the World” and states::

“In many countries, apps control movements and contacts of large sections of the population. Some governments abuse the data to suppress critical voices. An estimated one billion people use tracing and tracking apps in China and India alone. In this way, governments have access to location data, movement profiles and, in the case of the Indian app Aarogya Setu, users ' address books. There is no information on the use of the data, deletion periods and the assurance to evaluate the data while maintaining anonymity. Officially, the use of the apps is considered voluntary, but practically it is enforced.”

At the risk of perpetuating the “Corona-measures” means “Amnesty International":

“The measures taken now could outlast the crisis and determine what surveillance looks like in a COVID-19 world. ( … ) Once data has been collected, there is a risk that it will also be used for other purposes than to protect health.”

The hypocrites continue :

“Some governments work with companies that have lacked respect for human rights in the past. The controversial US providers of surveillance technology Clearview AI and Palantir are reportedly in talks with US authorities. The Israeli surveillance company NSO Group, which sells its products to governments with appalling human rights records, is now distributing a big data analysis tool that allegedly tracks the spread of the virus through people’s movement data.”

Control and censorship

This development towards more surveillance is accompanied by a narrowing of the debate space in almost all major media and an intensifying practice of deletions of dissenters posts on social media. This development cannot be denied in Germany, in other countries it is partly even more advanced. Thus, the “corona pandemic has led to a ‘dramatic decline’ of freedom on the Internet” - this is the result of the sometimes questionable US organization” Freedom House”, as the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” reported back in autumn. In the paragraph, however, it should be noted that the censorship is not directed at “information about the spread of the pandemic”, at least in this country, but against critical points of view towards the official corona policy:

“This year a ‘particularly gloomy’ picture is emerging. State and private actors in many countries have used the crisis to control information published online, suppress critical reports, and install new technologies for social control. Authorities in at least 28 of the 65 countries studied blocked websites or forced individual users, platforms or online publications to delete information about the spread of the pandemic. In at least 13 countries, the Internet was temporarily shut down completely, especially in regions where minorities live. New laws to curb allegedly false news about the infection or to maintain public order are often abused.”

On mass control of “corona warning apps” in other countries, the newspaper writes:

“It is possible to program these apps in the same way as the German corona warning app, which has been praised by data protectors. ( … ) In at least 54 countries, however, there are, according to the report, only minimal precautions against the misuse of such sensitive information, which would also often be coupled with existing public or private-sector data on citizens and passed on to various authorities. ( … ) In Pakistani intelligence reports, there is talk of intercepted telephone calls in hospitals to determine whether friends and acquaintances of patients also show symptoms. ( … ) South Korean officials accessed credit card statements, mobile phone locations and security cameras to monitor the spread of the virus.”

“This is how the employer monitors his employees! Five methods in the test”

Another potential field of future mass surveillance is the workplace. That corona can be used as a” door opener for monitoring employees”:

“The introduction of an' ecosystem ‘of tools for internal employee monitoring is justified by PWC with the’ protection of its own employees in terms of hygiene and infection risks'. ( … ) According to DLF, other IT companies or management consultancies such as the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) have recognized that companies have a need for ‘pandemic control systems’ and are now offering them. ( … ) Most companies proclaim that the use of the apps is based on the voluntary nature of their employees. But this' voluntariness ' is not given to the employer.”

“Stiftung Warentest” is currently investigating which means would still be legal here. According to media, it says: “What is allowed, what is not? This is how the employer monitors his employees! Five methods in the test”. The report continues:

“Webcam Recordings: Some software makes it possible to control employees via the camera of the computer. Such video surveillance without any cause is generally prohibited. If, for example, employees are suspected of cheating during working hours, clandestine surveillance may be permitted exceptionally and for a limited period of time, Stiftung Warentest explains. However, only if it is the only possible means of proving the working time fraud.”

Many people would accept the control measures discussed in this text only temporarily and only for the purpose of acute security. Under the impression of an anxiety-provoking media campaign, however, this already looks different. The Freedom House report quoted above concludes with the justified warning of a continuation of the measures officially described as only temporary:

“The authors of the report write that it will be' difficult, if not impossible ' to take such monitoring tools out of service again after the virus is defeated. History shows that ‘new state powers usually outlast the original threat’.”