Patriot Act, Corona-Edition

We already knew this was going to happen, so I suspect my readers will not be surprised by this: the Coronavirus Relief Bill is indeed being used to grant the state increased surveillance capabilities. Once again, emergency legislation is being used to accelerate the transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich, and to further suppress the poor by violating their freedoms in a most egregious way.


Image by MasterTux - source: Pixabay

Some of you will once again fool themselves into thinking that what we're witnessing is fascism of "crony capitalism," when in fact it's just one of the many ways capitalism's innate class-division shows its ugly, deformed face; it's simply the owner class exerting their power over the working class. There's really not much more to it, but to admit this, to allow yourself to see this obvious truth would mean admitting that you were wrong your whole life, that your parents and teachers were wrong, and that's difficult. I know; I've been there, a long time ago, but I've been there.

Putting that aside, we should all be protesting out in the streets right now, regardless of our opinion on capitalism, but we can't; this epidemic has created the perfect circumstances for the powers that be to play their usual game of disaster capitalism, they know not to let a good crisis go to waste, and use it to push through measures and legislation that would be impossible to push through under "normal" circumstances. Going back in time, we've seen this happen after the 2008 financial meltdown when banks and multinational corporations were given free reign over trillions of dollars of emergency funds after they threatened that the world as we know it would be destroyed if those funds were not handed over RIGHT NOW. We've seen it after the 9/11 attacks when everybody was in shock and politicians signed off on the Patriot Act even before reading the damn thing. We're now seeing an expansion of the surveillance state similar to that, just like we predicted would happen.

Here's a rough time-line; on February 27 2020 The Intercept reported that CORONAVIRUS SPENDING BILL COULD BE USED TO CEMENT SPYING POWERS, SURVEILLANCE CRITICS IN CONGRESS WARNED, invoking the aforementioned Patriot Act:

The Trump administration’s request for $2.5 billion to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic is likely to become an unstoppable legislative vehicle — as must-pass legislation that congressional leaders of both parties could use to ram through a reauthorization of the FBI’s call detail records program. Such a move would sidestep the House’s reform effort and instead push through a clean reauthorization of the program. [...] THE PROGRAM in question is the “call detail records” program, which sets out how the FBI or NSA can obtain phone records stored by telecom providers. Prior to that, the NSA collected phone records in bulk, relying on a secret interpretation of the Patriot Act that a federal appeals court disputed in 2015.
source: The Intercept

This is how such legislation is usually passed; it's added as a provision, buried deep in a bill that's meant to do something that's deemed necessary to overcome the emergency, that's what happened in 2001 and 2008, it's what's happening now, and it will surely happen again. And here's where we must be consistent and honest, and criticize the newly re-awakened progressive left under the leadership of Bernie Sanders; they voted for this bill. They voted for bills throughout the years since 2001 that had provisions to extend the Patriot Act. What they should have done is demand that this Coronavirus Relief Bill be cut in two separate bills, one dealing with the people and small businesses, and one dealing with the corporations. Instead they've let themselves and the people be hijacked again. They lament over being forced into signing this bill because the choice before them is letting the people, who need help RIGHT NOW, standing in the cold, or voting for this monstrous bill. This is a false choice; they should have organized and come together to vote this bill down, to demand that the people who need help most be taken care of first, and afterwards take care of businesses in a separate bill.

A week ago, on March 27 2020, Business Insider headlined with The CDC will set up a coronavirus ‘surveillance and data collection system’ as part of the $2 trillion stimulus bill, which President Trump just signed into law;

Of the funding allocated to the CDC, the stimulus sets aside at least $500 million for public health data surveillance and modernizing the analytics infrastructure. The CDC must report on the development of a “surveillance and data collection system” within the next 30 days. While it’s not clear what form that surveillance system will take, the federal government has reportedly expressed interest in aggregating data that can be gleaned from tech platforms and smartphone use to monitor movement patterns.
source: Business Insider

This is exactly what the Chinese government did, you know, that paradise of personal freedoms we all want to become... I will not pretend that I understand Chinese culture, but my belief is that they are used to authoritarian moves like that; a monitoring app is installed on hundreds of millions of smartphones, demanding citizens to report on symptoms, people they've been in contact with and tracking their every movement through GPS. I've also heard, but not been able to confirm yet, that Amazon's Alexa now has the ability to be asked if you have COVID-19; it listens to you laying bare your medical data, something that's normally protected under doctor-patient confidentiality, and reports it to Jeff Bezos' corporate monster. Amazon is getting help too in this dreadful bill, when Amazon is making more profits than ever before now that everybody's forced to stay home and have their stuff delivered to them.

Which brings me to another point you all should be aware of; the richest people and corporations will be able to buy everyone and everything that will go under in this crisis. It's a beautiful (for them) two-tear process; trillions of dollars will be printed or created on computers, which will devaluate the money for Joe Schmoe who will not be able to pay his bills, who will lose his job, who's small business will go bankrupt, who will be evicted so he won't be able to self-quarantine. And when all this goes on, Amazon will be the sole survivor, the only provider and the single buyer. Every capitalist's dream is to gain a monopoly, and this is how it's done.

Two days ago, on 31 March 2020, WIRED reported that The Coronavirus Relief Bill Promotes Surveillance for Health;

“We've already seen a bunch of countries embrace the idea of monitoring, be it [through] cell phones [or] social media,” says Jake Laperruque, senior counsel at the Project on Government Oversight, a Washington, DC, nonprofit. The stimulus bill includes provisions that restrict some government spending, but when it comes to surveillance, “there's really not that many.”
source: WIRED

The tech-giants, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook and their umbrella corporations are our Big Brother, watching our every move. The progressive left failed miserably by once again letting themselves and the people be left with mere crumbs while handing over even more money and power to those who need it least. A couple of Amazon workers went out to protest against their employer, and guess what happened; one of the organizers was fired from his job with the reason being that he didn't comply with the safety-measure of "social distancing." This is how the powerful will weaponize this crisis. I've recently written about why we shouldn't be calling it "social distancing"; we're currently being trained into seeing each other as threats, ripping at the social cohesion we now need more than ever. I really wish there was a silver lining to this thunder-cloud, but there just isn't. Or maybe this; there are many reports that people experience a much better air-quality when they do leave their house. Apparently there IS a relation between a clean environment and leaving the car at home, who would have thought that? I'm being sarcastic of course because this isn't a silver lining at all; it's just pointing out the obvious and re-affirms our inability to take necessary action, like mammals frozen stiff in the headlights of oncoming disaster...

How China Is Deploying Drones and Data to Tackle Coronavirus | WSJ

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