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Has coronavirus opened the door to mass electronic surveillance in the Uk?

An app that, once downloaded, lets you escape lockdown may sound tempting, but its implications could be dystopian. Da The Guardian.

It’s almost a decade since David Cameron scrapped Labour plans for a national ID card, and 13 years since fears about the government tracking all our movements helped kill off pay-as-you-go road pricing.

The idea of a “black box” in the car, logging every mile driven, was deemed too creepy, even though in hindsight it could have lowered carbon emissions years ago by discouraging drivers from making unnecessary trips. But Britons guard their privacy jealously, at least outside wartime. It’s surprising, then, how little debate there has been about the electronic surveillance culture this epidemic threatens to bring with it.

This isn’t about police sending up drones to shame Peak District ramblers, or threatening to snoop through supermarket shoppers’ trolleys to check their trips were really necessary, but about what happens after lockdown is over. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, confirmed at the weekend that the government is seeking to develop a phone app allowing people to record their own symptoms, and receive alerts if other users they’ve been in contact with have fallen ill. Well, of course he did: this is the man who once invented the Matt Hancock app, for everyone desperate to keep up with all the Matt Hancock news. But what if this is more about Matt Hancock keeping up with you?

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