Biosurveillance is the process of tracking medical and health data for clues about a possible health event like an outbreak. Historically, it’s a normal and necessary part of public health. But COVID-19 took everyone off guard, and now our governments will be looking for ways to strengthen future biosurveillance methods.

With the current availability of remote health monitoring and vaccination-tracking apps (along with other types of “pandemic tech” and biometrics), we face an alarming scenario: the steps we take today for the worthy goal of fighting COVID, could someday be used against us in the advancement of mass surveillance. Imagine anti-terror techniques plus digital contact tracing all rolled into one, then add some artificially intelligent police drones and a few cybercriminals looking to profit off medical ransomware. The surveillance state is going to have a heyday.

Anna Davis