EDITOR NOTES: Sacrificing an integral part of your personal freedom for the “greater good” is a tough decision to make. But perhaps it should remain “your” decision, and not the decision of the “state”--in other words, not enforced by a government using coercive means. Some states are looking to the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to monitor and track their citizens using GPS house arrest technology. It’s a form of surveillance, and its constitutional legalities are debatable. If we allow governments to keep tabs on our every movements, what if coronavirus remains with us for the long haul; what’s to stop government from using this technology to surveil citizens for purposes other than the virus; who will monitor and hold accountable the people collecting and analyzing the data; and what reason do we have to trust them?
The coronavirus pandemic has prompted various state and law enforcement officials to mull house arrest monitoring technology to ensure compliance with quarantine orders.
A deep dive into the matter by Reuters revealed officials in Arkansas, Hawaii, Kentucky and West Virginia who mulled the use of technology found in GPS-enabled ankle bracelets and smartphone apps to track COVID-19 patients.
Shadowtrack Technologies Inc. President Robert Magaletta also Reuters that state and local governments reached out with questions about repurposing the devices.
“Can you actually constitutionally monitor someone who’s innocent? It’s uncharted territory,” he told the news organization.
The Louisiana-based company supports roughly 250 clients across the criminal justice system.
“Various ideas being evaluated for tracking those under mandatory quarantine in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are right now just that, ideas,” Hawaii’s COVID-19 Joint Information Center said for Reuters piece published Thursday.
“We don’t want to take away people’s freedoms but at the same time we have a pandemic,” added Amy Hess, Louisville, Kentucky’s chief of public services.
Kris Keyton, of Arkansas-based E-Cell, told Reuters that a state agency inquired about its product as well.
“They just wanted to reskin our app” for patients instead of arrestees, Mr. Keyton said.
Ronald Kouchi, the president of the Hawaii state Senate, acknowledged that officials were headed for a major civil rights debate if they pushed the issue.
“America is America,” Mr. Kouchi said. “There are certain rights and freedoms.”
The latest Johns Hopkins University data on the contagion puts U.S. cases over 1.2 million, including 73,573 deaths.
The nation’s overall population sits at roughly 330 million.
Originally posted on Washington Times