It has been reported that three American universities are crafting a coronavirus surveillance system for Americans that is similar to China’s infamous “social credit” system, according to Breitbart.
The colleges in question are the University of Southern California, Emory University, and the University of Texas Health Science Center. The schools are using taxpayer dollars to create a mobile app that aims to track Americans based on their exposure to the coronavirus, describe their symptoms, and determine a “risk score” for that person. The funding has been given to the schools via federal grants from the National Science Foundation.
The privacy concerns and risks of discrimination as a result of the app are too great to be ignored, argued Bennett Cyphers of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on digital rights advocacy. According to Cyphers, the introduction of such a score system “complicates everything, and increases the risk that users will be misinformed or discriminated against due to factors beyond their control.”
The system would be very similar to China’s “social credit” system, which assigns rankings and either privileges or punishments based on each person’s loyalty to the regime of the Chinese Communist Party. The system largely depends on facial recognition technology, and has declared at least 13 million citizens to be “untrustworthy,” with another 23 million blocked from traveling out of the country.
Similar coronavirus-tracking apps are said to be in development by both Apple and Google, which would also make use of an individual’s location data via their smartphone to determine their status in relation to the disease.