U.S. Privacy Concerns and the COVID-19 Crisis

Privacy has always been a major issue for me and increasingly it is for many other people. I’ve been active in the field since the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) was founded. With surveillance capitalism so in vogue these days and not going anywhere, it behooves all who care to bone up on privacy issues.

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)

Privacy professionals and interested parties may appreciate finding out what the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) — I’ve been a member for several years — is providing in lieu of its annual privacy summit (canceled due to COVID-19). IAPP has introduced its virtual IAPP Summit Sessions, which is a series of 70+ presentation recordings by various experts on topics such as EU privacy laws, COVID-19 privacy issues, children’s privacy regulations, Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning data usage, healthcare, etc., (https://bit.ly/3dU3A0r). You don’t have to be an IAPP member, but this isn’t free (or horribly expensive either) — however, it IS free for IAPP members. Basically you could join and for the price of your initial dues and have access to over 70 privacy seminars, so it seems like it might be a good deal for various parties. For those interested, there’s much more to IAPP than you may realize (IAPP is the largest global info privacy community and resource…), so you may want to check IAPP out.

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There are many good briefings, webinars, seminars, classes, demonstrations, etc., taking place these days, so keep your eyes open. If you want any tips on some good ones, just let me know. I’m inundated daily with information about some or invites to some. Happy to pass info along.

International Association of Privacy Professionals

Interestingly, after I wrote the above and before I had a chance to post it, I saw an article describing one of the biggest fears of privacy advocates, one I’ve been warning numerous people about for well over two months (and the issue is not new at all). When “disasters” strike, people willingly give up various liberties — out of fear — for perceived government protection. Witness the Patriot Act, to which I was vehemently opposed. A major reason privacy advocates are concerned about people giving up their civil liberties and privacy rights at such times is that authorities rarely EVER return them to their citizens. When Obama had a chance to kill the Patriot Act, and many hoped and even expected he would (including me), he didn’t — he basically doubled down. It felt like a betrayal, but it just drove home the historical fact that regardless of party, once such liberties are given up, the government typically goes to the ends of the earth to ensure we NEVER get our privacy and civil liberties back.

Unfortunately, this time it’s a bit trickier because tracing is allegedly necessarily for combating the coronavirus pandemic and many companies are stepping forward to “help” in that effort (notably Apple and Google, among many), but in an age of surveillance capitalism, there are worries that such “essential” “spying” on us — “for our safety“ — will never cease once this crisis is over. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle. CNN actually published a pretty decent article on the subject. It’s ironic, because the U.S. has been leading the West in extensive criticism of China’s new social credit system, which has radically changed their society in one of the biggest social engineering efforts in history (https://www.businessinsider.com/china-social-credit-system-punishments-and-rewards-explained-2018-4). Indeed, in a speech Vice President Pence gave at the Hudson Institute, he brought this system up as he was discussing China’s history of human rights violations. And yet this begs the question — is America leading the West toward something very similar? In some of my professional circles, I’ve heard some rumblings hinting at that. Anyone care to share some thoughts?

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Polymath. Writer. Analyst. Researcher. Geopolitics. E/SE Asia. Historian. Antifascist. 40+ Books. Pearson. HarperCollins. AAN; RUSI; AOC. 22K LI Followers

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Scott Holstad

Scott Holstad

Polymath. Writer. Analyst. Researcher. Geopolitics. E/SE Asia. Historian. Antifascist. 40+ Books. Pearson. HarperCollins. AAN; RUSI; AOC. 22K LI Followers

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