US Wants to Track Americans Over Coronavirus

Thermal cameras pushed as 'threat detection'

With talk of a declaration of war on coronavirus, and the administration openly referring to the virus as “the enemy,” it was only a matter of time before they would try to bring to bear one of their favorite, but least successful tools in recent conflict, mass surveillance in the United States.

The government is already courting Google, Facebook and other companies, hoping to get the anonymized location data from them as part of a growing effort to track Americans’ movement. This could be expanded into using phones to track people.

Looking at where this might go, Israel serves as an early example. Israel was quick to use phones to track the public, and who was close to people with the virus. Already, they have rounded up several hundred people, based purely on this data, and moved them to isolation as potential cases.

As with terror surveillance, companies are quickly coming forward with new products to sell the government. One company, Athena Security, is pushing an “artificially intelligent thermal camera” that can be used to detect people with fevers.

This is something that the government can use in crowded areas, and also a product for private companies that have heavy foot traffic and want to make sure that no one has a suspicious fever. Ominously, however, the company is presenting this as “threat detection.”

In moving to a military mentality, the reality of a virus outbreak becomes muddled, as infected people are not generally speaking “the enemy,” nor generally trying to keep their illness a secret.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of