A report has revealed that government scientists were tracking and data-mining the public to get info on the coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine. The mass data gathering exercise affected over 18 million people. And one campaign group compared the government-backed spying to something straight out of George Orwell’s 1984.
Spying on nearly 19 million people
As Big Brother Watch tweeted:
BREAKING: Government scientists tracked 18+ million people to analyse behavioural change after vaccination.
— Big Brother Watch (@BigBrotherWatch) May 23, 2021
The Telegraph story was about the government’s Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours (SPI-B). It advices the SAGE committee. SPI-B got Oxford University to analyse the mobile phone location data of 18.3 million people. It was specifically looking at how people moved about in their daily lives before and after having the vaccine. It seems to have formed part of the Tories’ use of decidedly dodgy “behavioural science” to deal with the pandemic. As the Telegraph wrote:
Using “cell phone mobility data for 10 per cent of the British population”, the Oxford University experts found 4,254 individuals were vaccinated.
This group was then tracked through 40 “CDR [call data records] with corresponding location observations” every day, and monitored for behavioural change by analysing their data for the week prior and week after the vaccination event.
In other words, the government was spying on people’s movements. But it’s OK! Because it was all in the name of the government’s pandemic, response right? Wrong.
Straight outta Orwell
As Big Brother Watch said:
“This is deeply chilling and damaging to public trust in medical confidentiality.
"Between looming Covid passports and vaccine phone surveillance, this Government is turning Britain into a Big Brother state under the cover of Covid.
“This should be a wake up call to us all."
— Big Brother Watch (@BigBrotherWatch) May 23, 2021
If you’re a conspiracy theorist, you’d be forgiven for thinking the Tory government had trumped Bill Gates – with his supposed plans to microchip us all via the vaccine. But that’s kind of the point. Because the notion of increasing government authoritarianism under the cover of the pandemic shouldn’t be dismissed as conspiracy theory.
Naomi Klein wrote for the Guardian in 2017 that as hurricane Katrina unfolded in 2005 she:
watched hordes of private military contractors descend on the flooded city to find ways to profit from the disaster, even as thousands of the city’s residents, abandoned by their government, were treated like dangerous criminals just for trying to survive.
I started to notice the same tactics in disaster zones around the world. I used the term “shock doctrine” to describe the brutal tactic of using the public’s disorientation following a collective shock – wars, coups, terrorist attacks, market crashes or natural disasters – to push through radical pro-corporate measures, often called “shock therapy”. …
This strategy has been a silent partner to the imposition of neoliberalism for more than 40 years. Shock tactics follow a clear pattern: wait for a crisis (or even, in some instances, as in Chile or Russia, help foment one), declare a moment of what is sometimes called “extraordinary politics”, suspend some or all democratic norms – and then ram the corporate wishlist through as quickly as possible.
In other words, corporate capitalist governments will use a crisis for theirs and their mates’ benefit. We’ve seen that with Tory PPE/NHS contracts and the pandemic. But that’s not the same as saying, as some conspiracy theorists do, that coronavirus is a government “hoax”.
No New World Order needed
The Tories spying on our mobile phones in the name of scientific research is one such example. And the point is, you don’t need grand conspiracy theories to explain this.
It’s simply that under our current system, if there’s a way for the corporate establishment to get more power and (in the case of dodgy contracts) make a profit, then they’ll go to any lengths to get it – even using a global pandemic which has killed millions.
They don’t need microchips or 5G. All they need is a ‘shocked’ public and the nefarious will to take advantage of them in a crisis.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?