Coronavirus Pandemic Panic and Shrinking Civil Liberties & Privacy Rights

In my last post, I’d asked:

‘Will citizens have any civil rights in the end?  Will the most draconian laws and protocols sunset eventually, or be covertly extended for other purposes?  Israel, for instance, is using counter-terrorism protocols cell phone data to monitor the movements of citizens who’ve tested positive for the virus.’

Many citizen civil and privacy rights are being ceded voluntarily; many are being trampled on far more covertly.

‘Never let a crisis go to waste: US lawmakers bask in coronavirus panic while quietly building the police state of their dreams’,
Helen Buyniski,, March 19, 2020

“As the coronavirus epidemic monopolizes the attention of the American people, government is taking the opportunity to sneak through all manner of restrictive legislation, including a law that could end the internet as we know it.

Killing the internet… to save the children?

The ominously-named EARN IT Act [<link to S. 3398 at, bi-partisan cosponsors and text, including: and for ‘other purposes’] (short for “Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act”) that quietly debuted in the Senate earlier this month is a carefully crafted weapon for crushing encryption without explicitly banning, industry professionals have warned. While this particular bill purports to be all about ending child sexual exploitation, the industry is concerned it will make their business model unsustainable – while doing nothing to protect children. So are independent media producers, who fear their speech would be declared anathema. It would in practice strip section 230 legal immunity – protection from liability for third party content – from any website that failed to comply with a set of “best practices” imposed on a supposedly voluntary basis by a 19-member “commission” run by Attorney General William Barr.” [snip]

“Platforms that persist in encrypting messages despite Barr’s commission’s heavy-handed “recommendations” could be sued out of existence over user-generated content, which they become liable for with section 230 gone. This ingenious model keeps encryption itself legal – a crucial loophole for government agencies that rely on encrypted messaging to keep their own secrets, well, secret.”

@EFF March 11EFF sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee explaining how the EARN IT Act violates the First Amendment. … [<pdf]

“And while the Trump administration and even the media that oppose him are excoriating China for “abusing power,” that same administration has joined together with a “wide array of tech companies,” [including Facebook and Google] working together on a program that would use location data from Americans’ phones to “combat” coronavirus, as a glowing article in the Washington Post describes. Apparently, the idea of remotely monitoring citizens via their phones to ensure they don’t break quarantine lost its totalitarian sheen when it crossed the Pacific Ocean.

While the anonymous sources cited by WaPo repeatedly insist the project is “not seeking to collect and maintain a database of Americans’ whereabouts,” the involvement of Google – currently expanding a coronavirus testing website that debuted this past weekend into a national system that requires users to create an ID (or use the Google account they use for everything else) – hints that it could easily become such a thing.

Meanwhile, social media platforms have become home to the curious sight of Americans calling for more police state, confusing strict control with competent management. Hashtags like #ShutdownNYC and #LockdownLA from city-dwellers panicking at the thought that their neighbors might be out spreading the virus are the product of a 24/7 news cycle of fear, the necessary fuel for the crisis mindset that has allowed lawmakers to get away with so much.” [snip]

“Unfortunately for Americans, police state powers adopted during a crisis are almost never relinquished – and never without a fight. When the country makes it through this crisis, its people will have another long, hard battle to fight if they hope to claw back their lost civil liberties.”

For instance, Sean Penn:  @adri16 Mar 19

“Here’s actor Sean Penn [on CNN] asking that the U.S. Military take command & control of the  crisis. He uses the example of his work in #Haiti as a comparison. Haiti is now in revolt so under the #SeanPenn plan revolution in the U.S. might be assured.  Sean Penn says there is “no greater humanitarian force than the U.S. Military” as he requests that the U.S. Military take command & control of the #coronavirus crisis. One thing for certain from this interview, California still has the best weed in the nation. #SeanPenn

Would you trust Gates and Zuck with your DNA and RNA?

The two tech titans funded an effort to bring metagenomic sequencing and software to poor countries. Now, it’s helping trace the spread of the new coronavirus’, March 17 2020,

“IDSeq is a cloud-based, open-source bioinformatics pipeline for metagenomic sequencing. In non-scientist speak, it’s packages of computer code that comb through all the genetic material extracted from a sample—a tube of human blood, say, or a swab that’s been up someone’s nose. It matches all those mishmashed bits of DNA and RNA to massive databases of known microbes, telling you which bugs are in the mix. Running IDSeq only requires having a sequencer you know how to use and an internet connection.” [snip]

“As Chinese officials began to grapple with an explosive outbreak of a novel coronavirus, global health experts worried about what would happen if it spread to China’s less technologically advanced neighbors in the South Pacific. When a new disease emerges, it’s crucial to track its spread. That means more than just gleaning the numbers of new cases. Collecting genetic information about a virus can help public health officials understand how it arrived in their country and take steps to slow its advance. It can also help researchers monitor the virus for mutations that might make diagnostic tests less effective.”

“Although scientists in China had by then sequenced the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 and deposited that genomic data in GenBank, DeRisi’s team hadn’t yet updated their software to search the most recent version of the database. They wanted to let IDSeq fly blind and see what it could turn up.”, etc.

Would you trust philanthro-capitalist Bill Gates with anything?

Speculative but past-as-prologue?  ‘Bill Gates will use microchip implants to fight coronavirus’, 19-Mar-2020, Biohackinfo News.

“Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates will launch human-implantable capsules that have ‘digital certificates’ which can show who has been tested for the coronavirus and who has been vaccinated against it.

The 64 year old tech mogul and currently the second richest person in the world, revealed this yesterday during a Reddit ‘Ask Me Anything’ session while answering questions on the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic.” [snip]

The ‘digital certificates’ Gates was referring to are human-implantable ‘QUANTUM-DOT TATTOOS’ that researchers at MIT and Rice University are working on as a way to hold vaccination records. It was last year in December when scientists from the two universities revealed that they were working on these quantum-dot tattoos after Bill Gates approached them about solving the problem of identifying those who have not been vaccinated.

The quantum-dot tattoos involve applying dissolvable sugar-based microneedles that contain a vaccine and fluorescent copper-based ‘quantum dots’ embedded inside biocompatible, micron-scale capsules. After the microneedes dissolve under the skin, they leave the encapsulated quantum dots whose patterns can be read to identify the vaccine that was administered.

The quantum-dot tattoos will likely be supplemented with Bill Gates’ other undertaking called ID2020, which is an ambitious project by Microsoft to solve the problem of over 1 billion people who live without an officially recognized identity. ID2020 is solving this through digital identity. Currently, the most feasible way of implementing digital identity is either through smartphones or RFID microchip implants. The latter will be Gates’s likely approach not only because of feasibility and sustainability, but also because for over 6 years, the Gates Foundation has been funding another project that incorporates human-implantable microchip implants.”

‘Gates-funded program will soon offer home-testing kits for new coronavirus’,  March 8, 2020,

“Testing for the novel coronavirus in the Seattle area will get a huge boost in the coming weeks as a project funded by Bill Gates and his foundation begins offering home-testing kits that will allow people who fear they may be infected to swab their noses and send the samples back for analysis.

Results, which should be available in one to two days, will be shared with local health officials who will notify those who test positive. Via online forms, infected people can answer questions about their movements and contacts, making it easier for health officials to locate others who may need to be tested or quarantined, as well as to track the virus’ spread and identify possible hot spots.”

“The story has also been updated to clarify that projections of a possible 30,000 infections in the Seattle area by the end of March represent the upper end of modeling results for unchecked spread, with 12,000 cases as a more likely number. The researcher who did the modeling is also identified.”

‘Inside the U.S. Military’s Plans to Stop ‘Civil Disturbances’ Amid Coronavirus Pandemic, Something They Haven’t Done in 30 Years’, William M. Arkin, 3/20/20,

(cross-posted at


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