Contact Tracing- The Government Wants to Track Everywhere You Go and Everyone You Meet; What Could Go Wrong?
In this week’s chapter of 1984, the government wants to track everywhere you go and everyone you meet in an effort to control COVID-19! What could possibly go wrong?
On April 27th, Governor Abbott announced plans to establish a statewide “contact tracing program.”
As of now, the state’s new contact tracing system called “Texas Health Trace” is a call center and website through which people who have tested positive for COVID-19 will be “encouraged” to submit information on where they have been and everyone they have come into contact with during the 14 days prior to their test. One of 4000+ soon-to-be-hired “contact tracers” will then follow up with those contacts, inform them they may have been exposed to the virus, and based on their assessed “risk category,” will recommend a course of action, like monitoring for symptoms, getting tested, or two weeks of self-isolation.
According to Texas DSHS, “If positive cases disregard the recommended course of action, they may be subject to a control order requiring self-isolation.”
On May 16th, without consulting our elected delegates in the state legislature, Texas DSHS commissioners signed a deal awarding $295 million to a company based out of New York called MTX Group to manage the buildup of Texas’ contact tracing program. That is a large amount of money for Governor Abbott and his appointees to dish out, even if it is coming from the federal government.
For now, the DSHS says participation in Texas’ new contact tracing program will be voluntary and that all information will be private and used only for public health purposes.
Do you trust 4000 newly hired bureaucrats to protect your personal data? How often do we hear about personal data being stolen and harvested from government agencies and private companies? In 2019 hackers breached 22 Texas government agencies. What makes this any different?
These days it’s not hard to imagine that participation in our state’s contact tracing program could soon become mandatory if our leaders deem it is essential to our safety. Public health experts are already saying that a majority of the population must participate in contact tracing for it to be effective in slowing the spread of a virus.
The public health experts also say contact tracing is most effective at slowing the spread when it is established and operating before a virus has spread. Oops! Our daily rate of new cases and fatalities is already trending down, it looks like the government missed its chance to trace us to safety this time.
However, there’s no doubt that certain leaders and lawmakers will want to make sure we have “effective” state and federal contact tracing programs in place to be prepared for any new viruses in the future.
Folks, this contact tracing stuff could easily lead us down a slippery slope towards invasive government surveillance and the loss of more of our rights if we do not keep a close eye on it.
MTX Group has already developed an app to carry out “proximity-based contact tracing” through tracking Bluetooth interactions when our phones come within six feet of each other.
Will Governor Abbott’s next decree require that Texans download an app and participate in proximity-based contact tracing to be allowed to go in a grocery store or go to church? Will contact tracers or “case investigators” show up at your door and force you to take a test or self-quarantine for two weeks if someone who tested positive for COVID-19 tells them they came into contact with you?
A few months ago I would have said no, but these days it seems like our “big brothers” will take the liberty of doing anything they believe is necessary to “protect” us without much or any consideration for the downside of these new powers. Who knew the phrase: "Never let a crisis go to waste" would catch on so quickly.
If you agree with me that our governments should not be monitoring where we go and whom we interact with, call your state senators and representatives and ask them to help ensure that participation in state and federal contact tracing programs remains fully voluntary.
God grant us a blessed recovery. May He heal our sick, and may He watch over our unemployed!
On a final note, Monday is Memorial Day. This is a day to remember our fallen from ALL of America's wars. I pray that we continue to hold up our end of the covenant for which they sacrificed their lives. We live and enjoy freedom today because they paid the price with their lives. God bless them!