Whistle-blower Edward Snowden says the coronavirus will empower governments to limit people’s freedom, even after the pandemic ends.
Snowden shared his opinions on how emergency authority measures often stem from crisis situations, like mass surveillance after Sept. 11, in a video interview with Vice TV last week.
Snowden was the first guest on the new “Shelter in Place” series, which looks at the global response to the coronavirus outbreak.
He said world leaders will hold onto temporary emergency powers well after the pandemic ends.
“As authoritarianism spreads, as emergency laws proliferate, as we sacrifice our rights, we also sacrifice our capability to arrest the slide into a less liberal and less free world," he told Vice. “Do you truly believe that when the first wave, this second wave, the 16th wave of the coronavirus is a long-forgotten memory, that these capabilities will not be kept? That these datasets will not be kept?”
Snowden also discussed not trusting the accuracy of the numbers of coronavirus cases China is reporting and how he believes researchers knew a pandemic like the COVID-19 outbreak was bound to happen but were still ill-prepared.
"There is nothing more foreseeable as a public health crisis in a world where we are just living on top of each other in crowded and polluted cities, than a pandemic," Snowden said. "And every academic, every researcher who's looked at this knew this was coming. And in fact, even intelligence agencies, I can tell you firsthand, because I used to read the reports and had been planning for pandemics."
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