UN privacy chief says Coronavirus surveillance may lead to dictatorship; Snowden claims it can outlast pandemic

  • United Nations' privacy chief has warned that surveillance could lead to authoritarianism

  • Snowden said that this could prove dangerous and may outlast the coronavirus pandemic

As a measure to contain the coronavirus, various countries have resorted to heavy surveillance measures in monitoring its citizens. There are voices being raised on people's privacy being compromised. United Nations' privacy chief has warned that this could make surveillance in last longer than the pandemic leading to authoritarian systems.

Joseph Cannataci, the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to privacy said to Thomson Reuters Foundation that authoritarian and dictatorial societies could rise in times of crisis, reported Independent.

Snowden said similarly

Edward Snowden
Edward Snowden Twitter

Edward Snowden similarly said, that those in power get comfortable with this situation of surveillance. They would like it, he said in an interview to Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival, as reported by CNet. Post coronavirus crisis the data would still be available to them and may outlast the pandemic, the NSA whistleblower added.

Mr Cannataci demanded public vigilance too, so as to not give away basic rights. As governments order restrictions and lockdowns, some have resorted to using technologies, like facial recognition while using tracking of phones, and this could lead to authoritarianism.

Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Health experts say that such quarantine measures are necessary, this has made governments to regulate it via technology that potentially breaches privacy. Mr Cannataci says, such surveillance measures should clearly mention the limit of time it would be in force and also should be legally written.

Mixing AI with surveillance?

The information obtained could be abused or even stolen and proves dangerous and discriminatorial for communities like religious minorities as it looms a potential threat of violence.

"They" now know what we browse on the internet, including our location. With some devices, even our heart rates and its pulse, said Snowden. "What happens when they start to intermix these and apply artificial intelligence to it?" he added.

Related topics : Coronavirus