During the height of the COVID fearmongering, “contact tracing” became all the thing with the public health people who were at least as intent upon stamping out civil liberties as they were in curbing COVID.
Contact tracing has its roots in battling infectious diseases that aren’t easily spread by casual contact. So, for instance, in the case of tuberculosis, it makes sense to find out who an infected person has been in close contact with, such as at work, and test them for exposure. What doesn’t make sense is to try to locate people in stores where they shopped, etc., because the chance of transmission is slight. The more intimate the contact, the better contact tracing works. For STDs, it might be the gold standard. Unless the sexually transmitted disease is prevalent in a privileged population, like HIV or monkeypox, then we have to create unreasoning fear in the general population, so those most affected won’t feel as though their sexual proclivities are under attack (Why Is Saying Monkeypox Is a Disease Primarily Suffered by the Homosexual Community a Problem?).
The old-fashioned way required interviews and laborious door-to-door contacts. But we have the smartphone. If you’ve watched Amazon Prime’s “The Terminal List,” a rare watchable and un-woke Amazon Prime original, the hero, former Navy SEAL James Reece, describes the smartphone as “a surveillance device that happens to make telephone calls.” In other words, it was tailor-made to give public health bureaucracies the ability to make you report on your own movements and contacts. Several states hit upon the idea of developing a smartphone app that recorded the user’s movements in relation to other app users. Suppose someone using the app tested positive for COVID. In that case, the state public health authorities could contact everyone who’s been within Bluetooth range of the infected person and order them into quarantine.
So long as this was voluntary, it was creepy but not threatening. In June 2021, though. this article ran in mobihealthnews, an outlet specializing in digital linkages in the medical and pharmaceutical industries: Massachusetts contact tracing app automatically installed on some Androids.
Android users in Massachusetts may automatically see a new state COVID-19 exposure notification app installed on their phone, according to a number of reports surfacing.
Google told 9to5Google that it has been working with the state’s public health department and that it is “automatically distributed by the Google Play Store.” However, Google said that even if the app is installed, it must be activated in order for it to work.
That’s right. If you lived in Massachusetts and used an android device, contact tracing software was loaded onto your phone without your consent. But don’t be afraid; you still had to activate it because anyone who could intrusively place an app on your phone without your consent would never dream of activating that app without your consent. Never. I mean, they just wouldn’t do it.
In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, the New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA), a nonpartisan civil rights firm, accused the Bay State’s health department of “brazen disregard for civil liberties” by installing “spyware that deliberately tracks and records movement and personal contacts onto over a million mobile devices without their owners’ permission and awareness.” The class-action suit claims DPH is in violation of both the Massachusetts and U.S. Constitutions.
“Conspiring with a private company to hijack residents’ smartphones without the owners’ knowledge or consent is not a tool that the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (‘DPH’) may lawfully employ in its efforts to combat COVID-19,” the lawsuit said.
According to NCLA, DPH worked with Google to develop a contract tracing app, which in April 2021 became available for Massachusetts residents to download voluntarily. Few residents opted to use the app, according to the suit.
“To increase adoption, starting on June 15, 2021, DPH worked with Google to secretly install the Contact Tracing App onto over one million Android mobile devices located in Massachusetts without the device owners’ knowledge or permission,” NCLA claimed in the lawsuit. The filing alleged that when some Android device owners discovered and subsequently deleted the app, DPH would re-install it onto their devices.
According to the claims in the lawsuit, the app causes an Android cellphone to constantly connect and exchange data with other nearby devices via Bluetooth and create a record of those connections. This exchange process, the lawsuit explained, can make the time-stamped, stored data in person’s Android phone available to DPH, Google and application developers.
That data could include phone numbers and personal emails, the suit said.
Here I would point out that this occurred on the watch of a nominally Republican governor, Charlie Baker, who is the kind of Republican that the quislings at The Bulwark and The Dispatch simply swoon over.
This leads to two points that the writers at RedState have harped on for two years.
First, during the COVID panic, existing public health laws were abused. My personal view is that it was not a case of overzealous bureaucrats trashing the Constitution to keep us safe. It was a case of progressives, that is, Marxists-Leninists, developing a “public health exception” to the Bill of Rights. Churches were closed. Funerals and weddings were forbidden. Travel was curtailed, if not outright halted. The use of public spaces was prohibited. Face masks were required to be worn. People were fired for refusing vaccination. Australia returned to its cultural roots as a penal colony by involuntarily incarcerating people who might have been exposed to COVID. At the same time, we saw efforts to declare “gun violence” and “racism” public health emergencies, potentially unleashing the same lawless behavior by governments to eradicate those scourges.
Second, all the “muh private company” conservatives can just FOAD…oh, wait, that’s not second. The second point is that it is blatantly obvious at this point that Big Tech acts as an adjunct to law enforcement. Two weeks ago, I posted on how “Meta,” Twitter, and other social media worked hand-in-glove with the Department of Homeland Security to suppress stories law enforcement agencies didn’t like, see Leaked Documents Show DHS, the FBI, and Social Media Platforms Worked Together to Stop Debate on COVID, Hunter’s Laptop, and Election Integrity. Today, my colleague Bonchie posted on the efforts of the Biden White House to prevent the attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana from investigating the efforts by the FBI to suppress all news of Hunter Biden’s laptop so it could prevent the re-election of Donald Trump, see FBI and White House Slapped Down By Judge in Major Censorship Case.
A third point that just occurred to me was that do we really think Massachusetts was the only state to do this?
Now we can see how Big Tech actively collaborated with the public health goose-steppers to invade privacy and generally crap all over the Constitution.
We might be able to survive a Sturmabteilung of do-gooders, or a rapacious Tech industry focused on profits. But our society and our Constitution are not structured to resist them both. We need to act before it is too late.