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Tech tools used to fight Covid are normalising behavioural surveillance, warns AlgorithmWatch

TECH tools like digital contact-tracing apps and artificial intelligence that European governments rolled out to combat Covid-19 failed to play a key role in solving the pandemic and now threaten to make such monitoring widely accepted, a new report argues.

AlgorithmWatch says health surveillance technologies have been adopted without sufficient transparency. These include contact-tracing apps and vaccine passports. Some countries have used drones or other devices to enforce social distancing rules.

Such “automated decision-making” technology reduced the complex social challenges posed by Covid to a set of issues in need of technical solutions, the Berlin-based non-profit says.

The new report’s authors say the pandemic has been used to “further entrench and normalise the surveillance, monitoring, measuring and prediction of an increasing number of daily activities — now essentially including public and personal health purposes.”

That’s an even larger problem considering the “bugs, fakery, data leaks” the group says are present in such tools, and the growing number of uses for information from Covid-fighting tech around the world.

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