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'Totalitarianism': Congressman calls method to track coronavirus cases an invasion of privacy

April 16, 2020
In The News

Rep. Andy Biggs, an Arizona Republican and chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, called technology to track who COVID-19-positive individuals were in contact with a form of spying and “totalitarianism.”

Appearing on The Seth Leibsohn Show Tuesday, Biggs took aim at suggestions by Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, coronavirus advisers to President Trump.

“The media has engendered hysteria. Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx have engendered panic. And then you move to this really weird dynamic where Dr. Fauci is now advocating for what he's calling 'contact tracing,' where you they want to be able to monitor you — everyone, always — and move to the national ID-type of test system and give you a certificate, as you regularly test, that says, 'I am immune,' or something like that.”

Biggs added: “This type of centralization of spying on American people, that's not freedom. That is enslavement. That is totalitarianism, and that's what you see when you get a big crisis like what we had that have been manipulated, in some ways, to produce hopes for authoritarian outcome.”

Contact tracing is the process of seeking out the contacts of a person who tests positive for an infectious disease. Tech giants such as Google and Apple have already offered a plan for COVID-19 contact tracing using cell signals from over 3 billion mobile devices, Wired reported.

Announced Friday, the Apple-Google proposal documents two people who come close to one another through Bluetooth technology. Both companies claim the individuals’ identities and locations remain private.

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is broadening the number of people who will be able to be contact-traced nationwide, CDC Director Robert Redfield told NPR.

"We are going to need a substantial expansion of public health fieldworkers," he said. This, along with ample testing, is what will be needed "to make sure that when we open up, we open up for good."

Other countries, such as South Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong, have deployed contact tracing methods to track their citizens’ coronavirus cases.