Will governments stop the new surveillance after the pandemic is over?

Power Creep

Famous whistleblower Edward Snowden has a dire warning for everyone grappling with the coronavirus pandemic: don't let authoritarians exploit the crisis to claim more power.

Snowden told Vice that he sees the rise of emergency laws, increased surveillance, and other ways that governments have suspended civil rights to combat the pandemic as a disturbing power grab.

And, he added, he doesn't expect the leaders behind it to relinquish the newfound power when the coronavirus outbreak finally recedes.

Delayed Response

Snowden argued that a global pandemic was readily predictable, and that scientists and intelligence agencies had long been sounding alarm bells. Imposing new emergency surveillance, he argues, is a particularly disturbing play.

"As authoritarianism spreads, as emergency laws proliferate, as we sacrifice our rights, we also sacrifice our capability to arrest the slide into a less liberal and less free world," Snowden told Vice.

"Architecture Of Oppression"

Ultimately, Snowden fears that the world leaders claiming new emergency authority will hold onto them well after the pandemic ends.

"Do you truly believe that when the first wave, this second wave, the 16th wave of the coronavirus is a long-forgotten memory, that these capabilities will not be kept?" Snowden said. "That these datasets will not be kept? No matter how it is being used, what is being built is the architecture of oppression."

READ MORE: Snowden Warns Governments Are Using Coronavirus to Build 'the Architecture of Oppression' [Vice]

More on COVID-19: A Growing Number of Countries Tap Phone Data to Track COVID-19

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