The Authoritarian Trade-Off

Abstract, blue with red dots; and orange strings and spatterings

In this fascinating article, the media theorist Jathan Sadowski casts a critical eye on the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has become a cover for the expansion of state surveillance across the world. Sadowski discusses the ways in which the opaque processes like contact tracing, social-network analysis, and other ways of dealing with the spread of the coronavirus provides even greater impetus to authoritarian practices. Sadowski questions the value of trading privacy rights for a fantasy of public health and argues that more “transparency, accountability, and, most important, humanity” is needed in the global response to the pandemic.

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