As bad as America’s COVID-19 outbreak is, it remains a chance to set the United States apart from the world — to show that we can come together and defeat this virus while still maintaining the rights that make our country so unique.
For the most part, that’s been the case.
American authorities haven’t welded apartment blocks shut, like those in China reportedly did.
There have been no mass roundups or summary executions, either.
Even some state officials’ attacks on our constitutionally guaranteed right to bear arms have been stopped cold once President Donald Trump stepped in.
While Americans overwhelmingly reject tyranny amidst the outbreak, Kentucky residents are now beginning to see another attempt at unsettling government control creep into their lives.
According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, two Kentucky circuit court judges have used their power to tag and monitor infected people who have broken quarantine.
Of the three people fitted with ankle monitors and ordered to stay home, two have tested positive for the coronavirus.
The other individual does not even have the novel coronavirus, but is a family member of one of the infected Kentuckians.
The individuals were ordered to wear the devices by judges after they were believed to have left their homes instead of self-isolating, and in one case checked out of the hospital after testing positive.
Now, these innocent people risk arrest if they break quarantine again.
The move sets a shocking precedent, one that is seemingly unheard of in the United States, but appears to follow a Kentucky law that gives county health officials the power to force isolation in certain cases.
The order is presented as being an appropriate measure for extreme circumstances, but it’s a shockingly authoritarian response to this “crime.”
While the low-tech solution of an ankle monitor may seem scary, the real horror show starts when big tech steps in.
Instead of forcing people into wearing a monitoring device, companies like Google can simply use data pouring out of cell phones — devices already attached at the hip of most people.
According to Reuters, the tech giant harvested location data from billions of users’ phones to better help officials gauge the effects of quarantines and lockdowns.
Although Google purposefully obscured the data, governments’ willingness to bend civil rights mean that this could be a nightmare scenario should the tech company ever reverse their decision.
Personal information about someone’s travel habits, as well as their current whereabouts and work, home and recreation locations, would be downright deadly in the wrong hands.
Facebook is similarly sharing information on users that is intended for use by governments during the current pandemic.
If we’re not careful, this trend will only continue to increase in America.
And the further government takes its power, the harder it will be to wrest it back.
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