In early December, after finding 16 people had illegally crossed the border from Myanmar to Thailand and evaded the mandatory quarantine period, the Thai government said it would start patrolling the border with new surveillance equipment like drones and ultraviolet cameras.
In 2020, this kind of surveillance, justified by the coronavirus pandemic, has gone mainstream. Since March, more than 30 countries have instituted data gathering or surveillance measures questioned by privacy advocates, as OneZero tracked earlier in the year. That includes drones, like those used by the Thai government, but also apps that track a coronavirus patient’s every move, or even government cameras installed in Australians’ homes to make them comply with quarantine orders.
Nine months on, a new OneZero review suggests that many of those programs are still in effect, and have even been extended in some cases: Governments are still mandating the installation of invasive apps, as well as tracking movement by partnering with location-tracking companies and using CCTV cameras and drones.
It’s still unclear how long the coronavirus will persist, given that countries around the world just started their vaccination campaign days ago. It’s also unclear how long these surveillance measures will be in place — and whether they’ll still be around long after the coronavirus is a distant memory.
We Mapped How the Coronavirus Is Driving New Surveillance Programs Around the World
At least 30 countries are ramping up surveillance to combat the coronavirus
Nationally mandated location tracking apps have been implemented in countries Qatar, India, Russia, and Poland, and are all still actively used.
Qatar’s state news agency has repeatedly stressed that business owners must constantly check that their customers and employees have a “green check” on a mandated app called Ehteraz. Government employees like bus drivers also have to verify whether a passenger has a green check before letting a…