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Pakistan is managing COVID-19 with mass surveillance

Pakistan is using “a secret surveillance system… otherwise used to track high-value militant targets” to help tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of course, the government isn’t being transparent about how the system is being used. Or when it’ll stop.

Kaukab Tahir Shairani, writing for The Diplomat:

While it remains unclear on how effective the government’s “national security” approach to the virus will be, the move raises eyebrows with regard to privacy and data protection for citizens. Through this technology, authorities are not only monitoring confirmed patients but also potential virus carriers. This indicates that the government is tracking movements and also listening in to private phone conversations to monitor possible symptoms.

Pakistan’s PM has argued parts of the country’s population couldn’t afford an extended lockdown measures. That doesn’t necessarily justify such invasive surveillance.

Especially given Pakistan’s history:

In the past, the Pakistani state has implemented laws that have continued to shrink user autonomy in the digital arena thereby granting authorities excessive powers to curb dissent.

What follows is a long list of reasons for people in Pakistan to be worried about their privacy. Whether or not they’re more worried about COVID-19 is the question, I suppose.

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