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June 1, 2020

Government-Run Healthcare Abets the Surveillance State

There are inherent privacy violations in a massive contact-tracing program.

In the Chinese city of Hangzhou, the communist thugs that run the government are seeking to permanently track a person’s health status through a smart-phone app — one that would ultimately produce a score based on how much sleep one gets, how much exercise one does, how much alcohol one drinks, and so on.

The app, which became popular during the coronavirus outbreak, generates a QR barcode that can be scanned by various officials to determine whether one is healthy enough to enter a building or travel. And while the usage of that barcode is ostensibly winding down in most of the country — based on Chinese assertions they have the virus under control — Hangzhou apparently remains resolute.

How much detail do they want to track? “The score can be affected by your daily activities: 15,000 steps of daily exercise will increase your score by 5 points, 200 milliliters of baijiu — a sorghum-based Chinese liquor known for its high alcohol content — will lower your score by 1.5 points, five cigarettes will cost you 3 points, and 7.5 hours of sleep will add one point to your score, the demonstration shows,” CNN reports, adding that the effort may also include a “group score” applied to companies and residential committees.

If implemented, the app will add another layer of totalitarian control to a society that already embraces the world’s largest “social credit system” and the widespread use of facial recognition technology.

So why should Americans care? Because our own nation is embracing a similar level of totalitarian surveillance being sold under different auspices. “It’s time for trickle up economics. We need a transitional fed jobs program that trains and hires millions for a federal tracking/tracing/testing program as well as for support for at risk populations including long term care,” asserts billionaire Mark Cuban.

Cuban and others are championing “contact tracing,” as in replacing a phone app with an army of volunteers who will interview people who have tested positive for coronavirus and ask them where they’ve been and with whom they’ve been in contact. This effort will ostensibly mitigate the virus’s spread.

That a troubling percentage of the tests give the wrong results? That contact tracing is a massive invasion of privacy?

The “greater good” must be served.

Moreover, just like in China, our very own tech companies are part of the mix. Apple and Google have announced a joint project that will work with three billion iOS and Android phones, using Bluetooth to determine whether a smartphone’s owner has come into contact with someone who later tests positive for the virus, so they can self-quarantine. Both companies insist the system won’t involve tracking user locations or collecting any identifying data that would be stored on a server.

A 2018 article by the AP reveals the utter folly of trusting such Big Tech assertions about protecting one’s privacy. “Google wants to know where you go so badly that it records your movements even when you explicitly tell it not to,” it stated. “An Associated Press investigation found that many Google services on Android devices and iPhones store your location data even if you’ve used a privacy setting that says it will prevent Google from doing so.”

Two years later, nothing has changed — except for the worse. Andy Biggs, Arizona Republican representative and chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, gets it exactly right. “The media has engendered hysteria,” he states. “Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx have engendered panic. And then you move to this really weird dynamic where Dr. Fauci is now advocating for what he’s calling ‘contact tracing,’ where they want to be able to monitor you — everyone, always — and move to the national ID-type of test system and give you a certificate, as you regularly test, that says, ‘I am immune,’ or something like that.”

Biggs sees where this is going. “This type of centralization of spying on American people — that’s not freedom; that is enslavement,” he asserts. “That is totalitarianism, and that’s what you see when you get a big crisis like what we had that have been manipulated, in some ways, to produce hopes for authoritarian outcome.”

“Crisis” is an exceedingly exploitable term. And as the mortality rate for coronavirus continues to decline to levels far lower than we were initially told they would be, Americans might ask themselves how far they’re willing to let government go to implement a privacy-crushing effort wholly embraced by the CDC. How many other diseases, such as the flu, AIDs, or any number of STDs, should precipitate widespread contact tracing?

Or perhaps more simply, what mortality rate per se should precipitate wholesale invasions of privacy?

Americans are not amused. A Washington Post-University of Maryland poll discovered that six in 10 Americans are unwilling or unable to be tracked by Apple/Google. One in six Americans doesn’t have smart phones, and rates of smart-phone ownership are even lower among seniors, the group most vulnerable to the virus. Moreover, since Oxford researchers determined that governments would need a 60% citizen participation rate for such apps to be effective, what then? Mandatory smart phone purchases? More “Obamaphone” giveaways, with mandatory participation requirements?

All of the above is the most important part of a cautionary tale about government-run healthcare. A Fox News poll indicates that such an agenda is favored by a majority of Americans, including a large majority of Democrats who would eliminate private health insurance altogether.

That poll was taken last September — long before the same kind of government bureaucrats who would be empowered to run such a healthcare system capriciously determined who were essential and nonessential Americans, imposed draconian lockdowns, and empowered law-enforcement agencies to free criminals and arrest business owners who needed to work to feed their families. It was taken before they forced nursing homes to take virus-positive patients, precipitating thousands of preventable deaths, even to the point where Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is still enforcing this utterly bankrupt and deadly policy.

Now imagine the same people with the power of mass surveillance, aided and abetted by tech companies more than willing to abet Communist China’s totalitarian ambitions. Add the realization of the VA scandal to the mix, as in the government-run healthcare system where veterans died waiting for appointments — and government bureaucrats responsible got bonuses in spite of that reality.

On a recent day in New York City, a drone warned citizens to maintain social distancing. And when that same drone uses facial recognition technology to identify you, taps into your tech-created government health database, and tells you you’ve exceeded your alcohol intake for the day?

“Governments have been collecting more data during the global pandemic to help fight the virus,” CNBC reports. “But that has raised concerns about heightened surveillance continuing even after the coronavirus is brought under control.”

Really? In the increasing and coordinated assault on Americans’ privacy, who defines “under control”?

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