October 29, 2020
What follows are mere pieces of a technological trap which is potentially being built. In totality, the puzzle of gizmos and surveillance policy currently being employed to fight COVID-19 represent a threat to our liberty.
Security CamerasThe State College Police Department released this eight-page flyer in an effort to identify 60 individuals who attended large gatherings on October 24. SCPD is attempting to enforce a State College Borough ordinance regarding limitations on gatherings. There is no evidence any of these individuals are ill. The photos were apparently taken by security cameras in parking garages and other fixed locations near where these gatherings took place. (I blurred the faces in the photos using Photoshop.)
Click on an image to enlarge.
What cameras are capturing your image when you're out and about, and who has access to those images?
The Department of Health has hired hundreds, if not thousands, of people to interview those who test positive for COVID-19 and attempt to identify others they may have been in contact with. They mostly rely on contacting those folks by phone or text message, but it is my understanding that as of October 19, a new DoH directive requires that physical letters be sent to individuals in three counties – Lebanon, Dauphin, and York.
An open question is why just these three counties? Are they being singled out for a reason?
Back in August, I posted a copy of such a letter received by someone in Pennsylvania. Language included on the third page of the letter is pretty alarming, as I believe it constitutes an effective state of house arrest, or of being taken away and held elsewhere against one's will, for a healthy individual without due process. I connected the recipient with another individual who raised concerns about these contact tracing efforts and they are both now involved in a federal civil rights lawsuit which includes the contact tracing letter.
Given the timing of the 3-county requirement for physical letters, Tom Wolf's history of dealings with Lebanon County during COVID-19, and the political makeup of those three counties, it is not a great stretch of the imagination to perceive this as a possible targeted voter suppression effort.
If you receive such a letter today, and were planning on voting in person, what would you do? You can apply for an emergency absentee ballot right up until the polls close on November 3. However, that requires some contact with your county Board of Elections and jumping through a few hoops.
Your mobile phone is tracking your location. Many apps ask to use your phone's location data to help offer more convenience to you. Most of us choose to allow for that without giving it much thought because we like convenience. Do we even think about the potential downside?
If you upgraded the operating system software on your phone over the last several months, you likely also received a COVID-19-related update. On my phone, I can look in my settings to see that it is turned OFF, but will a future update (perhaps without express approval from the user) include a default, or unchangeable setting, of ON?
Regardless of whether your phone is an Apple or Android (Google) product, you need to understand this feature of your phone and regularly check these installed features to monitor their status.
Pennsylvania has also offered a dedicated app to download for COVID-19 contact tracing purposes. Over 300,000 people have willingly added this feature to their phones.
The Surveillance State
As far as I'm concerned, all the pieces are already in place to create a total surveillance state a la Big Brother in George Orwell's 1984. If you toss in your phone's camera roll and the curious ability to somehow hear to your conversations and suggest appropriate ads on social media, along with its many other whiz-bang features, the capabilities boggle the mind.
Law enforcement is now using security cameras to identify who was where on the front end of contact tracing and, as illustrated by the DoH contact tracing letter, law enforcement could potentially be called upon to assist in putting healthy individuals on effective house arrest or imprisoning them without due process.
It is not a huge leap to view all these tools, in the hands of the wrong people (Ahem!) in conjunction with the COVID-19 panic and our recent experience where cash transactions were refused, creating a society where your every action will be absolutely controlled, monitored, and perhaps denied.
In totality, this constitutes a genuine threat to your liberty and your status as a free individual living in a free society. Is it all worth it if they couch it as trying to "keep you safe?"
Don't scare yourself into becoming like the mindless minions 1984's Winston Smith was surrounded by.