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Reported by   | May 27, 2020

The Intercept has reported on the push to slap FitBit-style bracelets onto people in order to track them and coerce their behavior. AiRISTA Flow, a tech firm based out of Maryland, is marketing bracelets that would beep whenever a person comes within six feet of another individual in the workplace.

“When people come within six feet of each other for a period of time,” the company wrote in a press release about their creepy and invasive device, “the device makes an audible chirp and a record of the contact is made in the AiRISTA Flow software system.”

The technology would also allow employers to track every violation of social distancing edicts committed by their workers. The workers could then be reprimanded, or even fired, based off of the information gathered by the device.

The Redpoint Positioning Corporation is developing similar technology to turn employers into quarantine enforcement brigades. They have announced that they are working on modifying “cutting-edge technology … already used by leading companies worldwide in third-party logistics, auto manufacturing, mine operation” to be used in the enforcement of social distancing edicts. They plan on tagging people and products in the workplace to allow employers to institute Draconian restrictions on the freedom of movement.

“If social distancing parameters, such as a 1- or 2-meter radius, are violated between workers, the tag alarm will alert them to the hazard,” Redpoint wrote in their press release.

“If an infection does occur, historical data from the system will allow for highly accurate contact tracing, as records can show the individuals who were near the infected party,” they added.

Israeli surveillance firm SuperCom is repackaging services that are used on criminals to enforce home confinement on ordinary people in the workplace. They are calling their service “PureCare,” and it is described as a “state-of-the-art solution for quarantine and isolation monitoring to aid government efforts in containing and limiting the reach of infectious diseases.” They claim it is “a non-intrusive patient friendly system that constantly tracks patient location within buildings, vehicles and outside.”

They noted in their press release that they have experienced a sharp increase in “government agencies looking to restrict the spread of COVID-19 among their general population” and anticipate “additional potential industry demand for electronic monitoring services coming from the incarcerated American population.”

SuperCom talks in a cavalier fashion about how their technology will be used to treat ordinary law-abiding citizens like criminals. They released a promotional video on YouTube boasting that the exact same type of technology used to track and control convicts will be used on regular people.

“In the past, we have spent a lot of our time focusing on very accurate and state of the art tracking of offenders,” SuperCom Americas President Ordan Trabelsi said in the video.

“Many customers and potential customers around the world asked us if we could use that same platform to do, you know, Covid-19 home quarantine tracking and compliance. And we thought, of course we can because it’s exactly what we do in the offender tracking space. But now we’ll just be tracking people that are not essentially offenders but unluckily were exposed to the virus,” he added.

Civil liberties advocates and privacy rights advocates are crying foul at the rapid mainstreaming of this invasive technology for the purposes of contact tracing.

“I found the ankle monitor and other tracking methods described [by SuperCom] highly inappropriate and detrimental to a public health response in being unreasonably and unnecessarily coercive,” said Leonard Rubenstein, a bioethicist and human rights attorney with the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, “a serious invasion of privacy without any safeguards, and promoting an adversarial relationship to public health authorities when the relationship should be built on trust.”

President Donald Trump was right to warn that the cure may be worse than the disease. The coronavirus pandemic may usher in a new normal that destroys the concepts of privacy and anonymity forever.

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