Washington’s post-9/11 debate about how much surveillance a free society should allow has suddenly become about much more than counterterrorism and national security. Amid today’s global pandemic, key technology companies are in talks with federal and state governments about employing their tools against Covid-19. Facebook, which holds a trove of geolocation information, is sharing disease-migration maps. Clearview AI, a facial-recognition tech firm, may be able to track infected patients and identify people they have met. Smart thermometers are recording and transmitting fevers in real time. The data firm Palantir is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to collect and analyze vast information streams.
All this and more, we hope, will help to stop the virus in its tracks, save lives and help Americans get back to normal. But such efforts—done in haste—also raise searching questions about the balance between privacy and public health. Decisions being made on the fly by governments, private firms and individuals will change the country’s digital social contract for years to come.
Read the full article in The Wall Street Journal.
More from CNAS
The Razor’s Edge: Liberalizing the Digital Surveillance Ecosystem
Democracies must resist the impulses to build permanent digital surveillance infrastructures or risk losing a broader global contest between open societies and repressive regi...
By Kara Frederick
FBI investigating 'coordinated social engineering attack' of high-profile Twitter accounts
Reaction and analysis from Center for a New American Security associate fellow Kara Frederick. View the full conversation on Fox and Friends First....
By Kara Frederick
Is Seeing Still Believing? Synthetic Media and Illiberal Uses of Technology
At this exercise on June 15, 2020, the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) challenged the audience to spot the difference between real and synthetic media (digital forge...
By Kara Frederick, Ainikki Riikonen, Megan Lamberth, Dr. Sheena Chestnut Greitens, Sara Fischer, Dr. Aynne Kokas, Danika Laszuk & Maya Wang
Why Doesn’t the U.S. Have Its Own Huawei?
The Trump administration has tried one tactic after another to confront the rise of Huawei, the Chinese company that has been fighting to establish a dominant position in 5G. ...
By Elsa B. Kania