Every Single Cell-Phone

Last night on PBS NOVA, Decoding COVID-19, the award-winning science show since 1974 aired a most intriguing, informatively packed episode about our current progress and fight against the Coronavirus pandemic. From their website introduction:

In an unprecedented global effort to understand and contain the virus—and find a treatment for the disease it causes—is underway. Join doctors on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 as they strategize to stop the spread, and meet the researchers racing to develop treatments and vaccines.

Life and Survival vs. Loss of Privacy

In the latter portion of the show doctors and scientists discuss how all biophysicists, epidemiologists, virologists, geneticists, pathologists, everyone around the world in these scientific fields are racing to find a vaccine. A vaccine that can take up to 2-years of testing and manufacturing before it reaches the Earth’s population.

Meanwhile, the only defense we humans have at the moment is monitoring, managing, then restricting our social behavior. In Wuhan, China, the first epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, on April 8, 2020, Chinese authorities reopened the city and province for business. Residents were allowed to travel and move about in public with face-masks. The emotional, mental, and social benefits for Wuhan residents was enormous. However, life in Wuhan was/is nowhere near back to normal.

Wuhan residents, healthcare doctors,  and government officials have a serious concern and fear of a second resurgence of COVID-19 infections soon after reopening. This is justified. And so many restrictions are still in effect there. For example, anyone entering or leaving a building, property, park, or space are required (by law?) to use their cell-phone to scan in, upload special location-marking codes to a regional database. Gates of complexes, condominiums, stadiums, malls, entertainment events, parks, all have entry and exit stations, policed by security guards where every single person must scan a QR-code using a phone app at all specific entry/exit points, with your specific health condition, and based upon everyone else’s health-data condition that has been near you at the same time. Your color-coded COVID-19 warning-status is constantly updated. Green? You’re good, free to move about as you please as long as you have not been near another risk or high-risk person. Yellow or Red codes mean you will not be allowed to enter or exit before medical attention arrives. For those two color-codes, further medical testing, removal and possibly immediate quarantine may be required.

These measures in Wuhan have seemingly been very effective in squashing new outbreaks. They also have further benefits in conjunction with widespread testing. Everyone with a cell-phone will get multiple notifications of anyone who has been in near-contact with you wherever you’ve traveled. Without a doubt, for a lethal pandemic such as SARS-CoV-2 this level and complexity of monitoring is ideal for public health and safety until an effective vaccine arrives.

Therefore, here is my question for you, my readers and followers:

Is your own personal privacy more important than other people’s life and well-being?

In this day and age of hyper-sophisticated electronic technology and the fact that almost all of Earth’s human beings possess a cell-phone packed with GPS monitoring data for wireless providers and other mega-corporations to purchase and to use, is your personal privacy, movement data, and social activity more important than stopping and reducing COVID-19 from wiping out millions of the human race, possibly even taking your life, or someone dear to and deeply loved by you? Would these type of Chinese-inspired data-sets and phone apps help incompetent American leadership in any way for tracking COVID-19 infections, its hot-spots, and then assisting in testing kits and potential hospital admissions?

Yes? No? Maybe? Unsure?

Share your thoughts and feelings below. When is it right to Take One for the Team, the Village, and when is 24/7 electronic intrusion too much and goes too far for some group of questionable people of greed and control?

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37 thoughts on “Every Single Cell-Phone

  1. We surrendered privacy years ago whether we admit it or not. Every app, search and conversation on our cell phone has long been public knowledge. Anyone who takes exception at this point has their head in the sand.

    Liked by 1 person

    • NTP,

      You are 98% – 100% right. So very right! There are SO MANY constant updates by Apple, Samsung, LG, Microsoft, Dell, Intel, some 15 mega-App companies, Lenovo, HP, Acer, etc, etc, ad infinitum… and unless each of us are post-grad Alumni from MIT with Electronic Engineering degrees, there is NEVER any possible way, in our busy, busy lives that we will ever fully understand all programs, all apps constantly running (secretly) in “the background” of our devices. NEVER!!! Those engineers and high-tech mega corporations already know WAY TOO MUCH about all of us, especially our public movements and behavior! And god damn it, they keep asking every 3-mons or less for us to help them, to choose to allow them (or not; or its effin ambiguous as hell) to “Suggest” more tips/info out our asses!!! So that they can know every possible detail… ABOUT OUR ASSES!!! 😳

      Yes NTP, you nailed that one. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • NTP — I just had an epiphany! Are you sitting down? Are you ready for this sheer brilliance bursting outta Texas!? 😛

      With each of us owning cell-phones today, we are not just “in touch 24/7.” We are not just a quick touch from any and all latest info/news from around the world. We are not just “found” due to all cell-phones having an IMEI tracker, as opposed to lost. No, with our modern cell-phones we are essentially under House Arrest!

      Or should I say… Global Arrest? 🤔

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Australia has adopted the Singapore app. It’s voluntary, many people freaked out, but it seems a majority (I hope) are signing on. Personally, I think it’s a great idea. In fact, I think it could be a tad more proactive, alerting you to hot spots.

    Liked by 3 people

    • You know John, given the hard sad facts of being horribly prepared for this pandemic here in the (delusionally supposed) “greatest most advanced nation in the world” according to many American GOP fanatics, I think it is a very clever method of efficient, viral resource management! It damn sure helps with more ACCURATE, up-to-the-hour virus numbers. It could be a continuous litmus test of just how serious the spread truly is… compared to conflicting political press conferences geared toward economic recovery, huh? 🙄

      Liked by 1 person

  3. In a way I already have agreed to it. As an example, we did a grocery order pickup via Walmart yesterday. The moment I pulled the car into the proper parking spot my phone chimed telling me I was checked in and an associate was coming out with my order so I should pop my trunk open so we could do the no contact pickup. Walmart not only knew when I got to the store, they knew my location so exactly they even knew what stall I was parked in. Now granted this is because I agreed to this so this was voluntary and if I object to the tracking I can turn it off (at least they say I can) or I can delete the app.

    Is this a loss of privacy? Perhaps. But frankly I don’t really care if someone is tracking my location, at least in this case.

    but the horse is already out of the barn when it comes to tracking and violations of privacy. And as others have already pointed out, we’re being tracked 24/7 anyway. If you have a relatively modern car with something like the OnStar system in it, your location is being tracked every moment you’re driving that car and with a lot of these new systems they’re able to lock and unlock your car, even shut it down remotely.

    In these two cases this is voluntary. We agree to it. A lot of other cases we aren’t agreeing to it. Google just removed a lot of apps from its store because they were secretly gathering data from users and sending it to remote servers for whatever reason. And those were just the ones they caught doing it. It’s suspected there are hundreds, thousands of apps out there doing the same thing. The Apple system is a bit more secure, but not by much. Apple also routinely catches apps doing the same thing.

    And it gets worse. There was a case not long ago of a school that was, for “security” reasons, secretly activating the cameras in the students’ laptop computers and video recording the kids while they were in their own homes and even in their own bedrooms. The list goes on and on.

    It’s been going on for a long time, too. Back in the 1990s I worked for a company that installed and serviced point of sale systems for large grocery stores. The reason stores want you to use those “loyalty cards” to get discounts isn’t just because it saves them money on processing coupons, it’s because they now have everything that you bought tied to a specific person, building up profiles on you specifically allowing them to take that data and taylor sales pitches directly to you, and even worse, selling that data to others.

    Liked by 2 people

    • “but the horse is already out of the barn…”

      Grouchy, you’ve reminded me of a childhood memory in about 1975-76 with my Dad, our brand new Zenith TV, and those huge, gangling, a bit gaudy, aluminum antennas that most families attached to their roof tops. Remember those ugly things? What I have never forgotten from those two days helping Dad setup the TV, installing the antenna-wiring into and up the wall into the attic. Up there in the attic where he and I could only squat, sit, or crawl on all fours, I asked him where would we be drilling a hole up through the plywood-decking, thin tar-lining, and through the shingles. He answered, “We won’t be drilling anywhere.” I looked at him puzzled wondering how on Earth was the thick, black wire getting outside to the aluminum antenna.

      The antenna is not going outside on the roof” he explained. “If we put it out there then the entire neighborhood and total strangers (like thieves/burglars) would know immediately that HEY EVERYBODY! The Miller’s have a big, nice, color TV inside!” He continued elaborating his point, “We might as well put a large neon sign out there advertising and boasting BREAK ON IN, we also have more electronics… like the VCR and your Mom’s very expensive hi-fi Pioneer stereo system.” That was the start of my Ah-hah moment to his purpose of keeping the antenna hidden inside our attic.

      Are you asking, Where is he going with this?

      Great question Grouchy! 😉 Dad’s reasons for hiding the antenna in the attic was the last part of 2-parts prior and related to our TV antenna.

      1) He had always had some discomfort (problems?) with allowing many unsupervised TV programs being intimately brought inside our home, feeding (infecting?), stimulating our brains and/or emotions, just as his father, my grandfather had the same concerns about the transistor radios in the 1930’s thru the early 1950’s entering 60% – 70% of family homes.

      And 2) TV radio-waves are two-way waves: a receiving frequency and a transmitting frequency. In other words son, TV stations are collecting and compiling WHAT channels we watch, at what time we watch programs, giving those broadcasting companies invaluable gold-nuggets on the pulse of American’s interests and therefore, to an extent, our intimate family preferences and leanings in multiple consumer categories.

      Fast-forward to May 2020 Grouchy and how many Gigabytes, Terrabytes, and now beyond Petabytes along with processing speeds—soon to reach light-speed—that our personal cell-phones are capable of and what they will soon achieve every year or 2-years!!! And worse still, unless a blast of microwaves, or electromagnetic burst, or an atomic pulse of radiation FRIES your cell-phone or whatever electronic device… NONE of your personal information is ever PERMANENTLY deleted even if you THINK you deleted/trashed it via the software app!!!

      Think about dem apples Grouchy! And I ain’t talking Apple Computer. 😛

      Liked by 1 person

      • Great story about the antenna. Your father was a man ahead of his time.

        unless a blast of microwaves, or electromagnetic burst, or an atomic pulse of radiation FRIES your cell-phone or whatever electronic device… NONE of your personal information is ever PERMANENTLY deleted

        I’d think a few whacks with a hammer would work — at least to make the data non-retrievable.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yeah, a computer retrieval company I used last year for my defunct, dead, not reading external hard-drive used a power drill and drilled 3-4 holes thru the disks, etc. It APPEARED my lost files and data were… more lost? Destroyed? Yes?

          Unless they had already made 100,000 copies of all my recovered illegal and questionable, iffy moral fiber of files and data. Hmmmm. 🤔 😛

          Like

  4. Is your own personal privacy more important than other people’s life and well-being?

    It depends on the degree of intrusion into privacy vs the degree of improvement in safety from disease that it would bring to the population generally. In this case, there are other measures available, such as lockdown orders, which are more effective at containing the pandemic than universal monitoring of the population. And while a vaccine is likely at least a year away, drugs to treat the disease are likely to be much closer.

    Conversely, experience shows that once the precedent of allowing this or that intrusion into our privacy is established in the name of combating an emergency, the number of claimed legitimate uses for the same technique tends to expand. If they can use universal monitoring of people’s movements to fight a pandemic, why not let them use it to track and control less-serious diseases? Why not use it to monitor people suspected of child molestation or terrorism? Those are worthy causes as well, right? Then, given enough time, you find that it’s being used to determine if you were exceeding the speed limit somewhere or went to the beach on a day you called in sick to work.

    I accept the lockdown orders and limitations on public gatherings because, in a pandemic, these are cases where the behavior of one person can pose a clear and immediate threat to the safety of other people. There is no such justification for routine tracking of where I am going in a general sense.

    So in this case my answer to your question is no. The infringement on my [privacy is too great and the marginal benefit to the safety of others is too small.

    I am aware, by the way, of the argument that most people have already bought in to such infringement on their privacy by using smartphones or driving recent-model cars which similarly track their movements.. I don’t believe that most people are really aware of the degree to which they can be tracked in this way, and thus did not make an informed buy-in.

    I do not have a smartphone and never will, largely for this very reason. I keep on fixing my 1999 car instead of buying a more modern one. I refuse to update my computer to Windows 10 (it reports too much about what you do back to Microsoft). I don’t use Google for internet searches. It is possible to opt out of this kind of surveillance to a great extent. I believe far more people would do so, if they understood the issues.

    Liked by 1 person

    • HAH! I love your last paragraph Infidel! 😄 But… there’s just one hiccup I see with it:

      It is possible to opt out of this kind of surveillance to a great extent.

      Yes and no. 😉 I have to ask myself “Self, do I want to spend 2-3 hours of my very valuable time trying to decipher if they are asking me:

      “Would you like to not like to have XYZ to the Petabyte, Inc. send you tips/suggestions based upon every second you are awake, moving, going from destination to destination, AND the work you will do for us divulging all your moves/decisions? If so, leave blank.”

      WTF did I just read and what are the consequences of saying Yes, of saying not Yes, of saying No or not No, or… not doing a damn thing and pulling the power-plug!? 😏 I mean, they are SERIOUSLY all trick questions!!!! AHHHHH!!! 🥴

      Like

      • Not sure what kind of websites you’re visiting, but I’ve never run into anything like that. I just don’t use the sites/gadgets they depend on to collect information on people. That’s what I mean by “opting out”.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I have downloaded the app being used in Alberta, Canada. It does not collect data other than my phone number. When I have it active (which is when I go to populated places like the grocery store) it will track my movements. If I have come in close contact with someone who also has the app active and who has been diagnosed with the virus, I will be notified. I am ok with that.

    I am aware that there is potential for abuse of this system, but I prefer to trust and be warned if I am at risk than to not trust and allow myself to be at risk.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes, cell phone users are tracked in any number of ways. However, I tend to think many of them have no clue on just how much information is being shared … simply because they just don’t think about it. They use the many and various “conveniences” their phones offer them and give nary a thought that each button they push is being transmitted into the nether-world to gather information for … whatever. (NOTE: I’m primarily referring to the “average” user, not the teenager or the businessperson that sleep with their phone laying on their pillow.)

    As related to your question about the virus tracking, it appears this is a voluntary act — and IMO, that changes the dynamics. Now the person is AWARE that someone is using their information. And then they begin to wonder … how much other stuff do they know about me?

    IOW, the horse has been let out of the barn.

    So to answer your question about personal privacy vs. another person’s well-being … from a personal standpoint … I’d have to think about it AND learn much more related to the dynamics involved.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good stuff Nan! Thank you. You know all those “Terms of Service” links/pages that software and wireless companies have always written in 8-pt or 5-pt font 🔎🧐 and 500 pages of words, conditions, and phrases you are not sure are even in English? Yes?

      Who tha hell takes 2-hours to read it all and EVERYTHING you are allowing them to do to you—like a lab rat or guinea pig—by checking all 3 or 20 tick-boxes!? WHAAAAATTTTT!!!? I don’t wanna have to go to Harvard Law School for Pete’s and Paul’s sake! 😵🥴

      Like

    • However, I tend to think many of them have no clue on just how much information is being shared

      Exactly. Most people don’t. I’ve talked with well-educated and fairly sophisticated people who had no idea about all the spyware built into Windows 10, for example (the IT security person at my job did know about it, but that’s hardly surprising). I’ve heard of people who were caught after committing crimes because they didn’t realize their smartphones betray their location. Most people have no clue how much they’re being monitored.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Some good discussion points there. You know I don’t mind giving up some of my privacy to aid in the Covid-19 effort. Some things are much more important than ones own privacy, and to deal with this virus it must be a collective effort. For all the things people criticize about China, there are some things we could learn from them in this pandemic (and some other Asian countries). Until we come up with a cure/vaccine, we need to be able to track where this virus is, and enforce social distancing. I think ‘taking one for the team’ is appropriate in the context of this Covid-19 pandemic. Electronic intrusion becomes too much when private businesses or the government exploit it for their own agendas outside of this context. It is inevitable some of this exploitation will occur regardless though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Liberated,

      Many thanks for your visit and feedback, and also welcome. Hope you will stop by again with your thoughts, regularly should you choose. 🙂

      I’m in complete agreement with you. Many good, clever, efficient things can indeed be learned from China, South Korea, Taiwan, and those countries handling COVID-19 very intelligently and in the past SARS and MERS. Taiwan has done perhaps one of the most brilliant managements of the pandemic out of all nations infected!

      As I mentioned to Infidel above, regarding mega corporations intruding upon our personal intimate privacy via our electronic devices and their non-stop UPDATES and changes to Terms of Service, it would not surprise me one bit if some of them blatantly exploited their subscribers/clientele. But also those “updates” and new Terms of Service Agreements are worded such that if you don’t read them very closely or you do not do anything at all—i.e. never read your/their agreement—then they have setup the update and Agreement so that you have agreed to their questions and conditions (but are unaware) by NOT bothering to answer those selections/tick-dots that suits best THEIR agenda and interests! That irritates me to no end!!! 😠 Now you are FORCED to read those 500-pages taking 2-hours to complete… JUST BECAUSE if you don’t, you are setting yourself up for exploitation, by silent default!!! This trickery of exploiting our silence, our non-participation is why one knows damn good and well there abso-effin-lutely WILL BE corporate exploitation of consumer privacy!

      Anyway, thanks again Liberated for your comment. Feel free to share here in the future, please. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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