Last week I was hit with COVID-19 and was forced to take time off.
I was hit pretty hard at the end. Fortunately, I did not have to be hospitalized. I received support from NHS doctors over the phone. A lot of people have had a lot worse than me.
When registering my positive COVID-19 test with the NHS, I was asked to register the test result with the NHS Covid-19 app. I had installed the app on my phone shortly after it became available last year.
The app is able to track my movements using the location of my phone. When I recorded the positive test, he asked my permission to share details of my movements over the past few days, the period during which I must have been exposed to the coronavirus.
This is called digital contact tracing.
The app said it would anonymously share those details with the NHS. Others with the NHS app installed, who were in the same location as me during the same period, would then be notified that they may have been exposed to the coronavirus, so they can get tested and infections can be reduced.
Although some may view this as an invasion of privacy, I gave my consent and it didn’t bother me at all. Sharing of app data is for public health purposes and in any event the data I shared has been completely anonymized.
The main thing is that I was not worried.
OPINION: Israel’s global cybercrime racketeering
Smartphones are in any case spy devices imposed by the monopolies of Silicon Valley. The invasive data collection (and sale of data) by companies like Facebook concerns me much more.
The least of my concerns is the anonymous data on my movements shared anonymously with the NHS in an attempt to contain the spread of a deadly pandemic.
Aggressive cyber weapons, such as those offered by Israeli cyber-merchant companies, like the NSO Group, concern me much more.
NSO, one of Israel’s leading cyber weapons exporters, has even been blacklisted by the US Department of Commerce, meaning it is no longer allowed to purchase parts and components from US companies, from the US. least not without a special license.
This is due to NSO’s spyware, Pegasus, and its targeting of politicians, journalists and human rights defenders. Pegasus is capable of effectively hacking a target’s phone, stealing passwords, photos, videos, text messages, and even turning on its cameras and microphones as needed.
In other words, smartphones can be turned into weapons against their own users.
This is yet another example of Israel establishing a global model of total surveillance.
A recent talk gave an even more disturbing example: the “Wolf Pack” and “Blue Wolf” systems. One whistleblower, a former Israeli soldier, called them “a total violation of the privacy of an entire people.”
Wolf Pack is a large database that includes “profiles of virtually all Palestinians in the West Bank, including photographs of the individuals, their family history, education, and a security clearance for each person.”
Blue Wolf is smartphone technology and a larger facial recognition system that scans the faces of every Palestinian it comes in contact with.
OPINION: Israeli spy firm uses coronavirus cover to impose global mass surveillance
In the Palestinian city of Hebron, a network of CCTV cameras “dubbed” Hebron Smart City “allows real-time monitoring of the city’s population and, according to a former soldier, can sometimes see into private homes.”
Prizes were given to the Israeli soldiers who managed to take the most pictures of the faces of Palestinians, including those of children.
It is the start of an oppressive system of total surveillance of all Palestinians.
In the same way that NSO allowed Israel to export its Pegasus spyware to other oppressive regimes like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, you can bet there are plans to export systems like “Wolf Pack ”and“ Blue Wolf ”abroad.
Israel is only a boon to other oppressors.
The opinions expressed in this article are the property of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.