Cybersecurity Companies Selling Hyper-control Technology to Governments to “Prevent Pandemics”

The fear that the global pandemic of the new coronavirus will be used to justify a new world order based on a hyper-surveillance system becomes increasingly real. All over the world, multiple projects abound to build a global surveillance and remote monitoring system that stores data about all citizens and controls them partially or totally to prevent the spread of a new infection. Civil liberties, which for centuries have been a real pillar of Western thought and liberal ideology, now appear to be expendable in the name of “preventing a new pandemic”.

In fact, this reality has already begun. On this topic, a group of researchers recently published an article in Reuters, making a large and well-elaborated denunciation about the projects of surveillance and violation of civil liberties. According to this text, at least eight cyber intelligence companies are already involved in monitoring projects under the excuse of helping governments to control the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of these companies is Israeli Cellebrite, a renowned corporation in the field of data technology. The authors of the article tracked an email pitch from Cellebrite to police authorities in Delhi, India, where the company briefly exposes its work, stating that it can use to control the quarantine of infected people the same technology it uses to assist authorities in controlling fugitives and wanted by the police, quickly identifying the location, data and contacts of any person infected with COVID-19. In the e-mail, the company states that such a mechanism should be used at first by consensus; however, nothing prevents it from being compulsorily applied in some more delicate cases in order to safeguard general security. In practice, this means that being infected with a virus will very soon be analogous to being a criminal.

The expert and technologist Chris Garaffa, in a recent statement, expressed his opinion about the proposal presented by Cellebrite saying:

“Ultimately what Cellebrite’s GrayKey does is get a copy of everything on your device. Now, think about what’s on your phone. Not just the photos or emails… So, now Cellebrite is offering these tools to more governments under the guise of tracking the spread of COVID-19. They’re suggesting to governments that they purchase these GrayKey and other devices, and when someone is diagnosed with coronavirus or dies from it, the government actually takes their phone so they can see all of their locations”.

The eight companies referred by the article reported that their surveillance products have already been purchased by governments in more than a dozen countries on almost every continent – however, the names of the countries have been kept confidential. Only Israel is a country publicly involved in testing remote control and monitoring systems. In addition to the very powerful Cellebrite, another Israeli company involved in such tests in collaboration with the state is NSO Group. The Group is already openly working in cooperation with the Israeli ministry of defense and is just waiting for the resolution of some legal problems for the definitive implementation of its technology in the control of epidemics. Despite the fact that such tests are known to occur, their operations are strictly confidential and absolutely no one has any information about how these experiments are conducted, which raises even more suspicion about the case and generates a series of questions that still unanswered.

Security engineer and analyst Patricia Gorky, in a recent interview, reported the following testimony about such tests:

“These surveillance companies, these Israeli surveillance companies in particular, the way that they test out their software and they test out these surveillance platforms is directly on the Palestinian people… Israel uses these surveillance companies to track what these Palestinians are saying on social media, to track their location, to surveil them… and the fact that these companies are even being floated as possibilities to fight the coronavirus shows the fact that this is not about fighting COVID at all. This is about really deepening the surveillance apparatus and adding to it”.

So, what we have so far is the simple implementation of several forecasts by experts about the scenario provided by the pandemic. The great profit that the coronavirus brought to the global financial elite was the possibility of circumventing the basic principles of liberalism to create an even more liberal and brutally excluding system. We are facing the birth of a liberalism without freedoms, of an overwhelmingly global capitalism, which cannot be limited by absolutely nothing, neither laws nor principles.

Capitalism brought the world the Absolute State when it needed it and likewise discarded it when no longer needed it. What emerged then was the legacy of liberalism, constitutionalism and the rule of law; now, these elements are also outdated for capitalism, which, in its new dynamics, aims to purge these principles in favor of a new one: biological security. In the name of prevention, world elites will try to spy, supervise and control everything and everyone.


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This article was originally published on InfoBrics.

Lucas Leiroz is a research fellow in international law at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

Featured image is from InfoBrics

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