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Still flattening the curve?: Increased risk of digital authoritarianism after COVID-19

I’m not a fan of the author’s solution.

There is only one solution to the threat of digital authoritarianism. DO NOT COMPLY. REJECT IT’S VERY EXISTENCE. There is no other way.

The coronavirus pandemic has encouraged states to employ digital tools to monitor the spread of the virus and surveil public health data. Expanding state access and control over digital platforms quickly became the new normal, facing little to no objection because of pandemic anxiety. Although the expansion was a strategy to “flatten the curve,” it now carries the risk of digital authoritarianism since governments persist in deepening their digital control capabilities.

One of the emerging risks we face now is state-led technological surveillance. Regardless of the regime type, states employed a variety of surveillance tools during the pandemic

The main rationale for increasing state surveillance was to tackle the pandemic effectively to save people’s lives. Yet, states are not enthusiastic about abandoning these digital tools, even though the pandemic is winding down. Instead, they are determined to preserve their surveillance capacities under the pretext of national security or preparation for future pandemics. In the face of increasing state surveillance, however, we should thoroughly discuss the risk of digital authoritarianism and the possible use of surveillance technologies to violate privacy, silence political opposition, and oppress minorities. For example, South Korea’s sophisticated contact tracing technology that involves surveillance camera footage, cell-phone location data, and credit card purchases has disclosed patients’ personal information, such as nationality. It raised privacy concerns, particularly for ethnic minorities, and underlined the risk of technology-enabled ethnic mapping and discrimination.

This is not an ‘ethnic minority’ issue. This is an all person issue. Period.

In 2020, UN experts released a statement on the privacy impacts of the pandemic, warning that “all-pervasive surveillance is no panacea for COVID-19.” According to the statement, the pervasive use of contact tracing technology during the pandemic paved the way for uncontrolled surveillance in many countries, which the document calls a disturbing trend.

Access restriction and censorship are two other emerging risks exacerbated throughout the pandemic. Governments often limited or blocked access to independent online news sources under the guise of preventing the spread of false news about the coronavirus. In many countries, while pro-government news outlets continued to spread false information about the pandemic, the governments detained people on spurious charges of misinformation

Big Tech led the censorship parade.

My solution is say no to the digital dictatorship. It is the only way. No to digital ID. No to the digi verse.

Yes, to the real world.

Get real.

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