Coronavirus: The most dangerous moment yet
“The virus will pass, but the decisions we make today … will last” said Edward Snowden in an interview this week.
The long list of bad decisions that led to the current health crisis goes on and on, and as governments around the world scramble to make up for their early mistakes, they’re passing all kinds of policies that have created enormous damage.
There are many heroes who have picked up the slack: those 3d printing face shields, donating computing resources to research facilities, and transforming production plants to make emergency goods.
Tech can be used for tremendous good, but right now as we decide on policies about how to handle this crisis, it’s really important that we remember that tech can also be used for bad. Especially in an atmosphere driven by fear, it’s crucial we remember that “stop gap measures” introduced in emergency situations usually remain in place well after the “emergency” has passed. So we need to be very careful about what kind of a future we’re creating with the measures we take today.
Governments can already track our movements with ease. Knowing this, it’s important that we don’t let a crisis like COVID-19 normalize and legitimize this tracking of citizens. Also we may trust who is using this data now, but someone else will have this data eventually, says Snowden.
“Some other country will have this data eventually. In your country some other president will have this data, and someone will abuse it. … Do we truly believe that after the first wave, the second wave, the 16th wave of the coronavirus is a long-forgotten memory that these capabilities will not be kept? These data sets will not be kept? What is being built is the architecture of oppression.”
Snowden remarked that we are currently at a pivotal moment in time where the system is so stressed that we are in a position to make not just reformative changes to society but revolutionary changes. We can change the structure of the system that controls and influences our lives. What kind of a future do we want to see? Because now is the time to create it.
Huge thank you to Snowden for his interview with VICE, which can be viewed here:
Huge thank you to Perry Metzger for his insight, his full interview can be found here: