Edward Snowden warns 'bio-surveillance' may outlast coronavirus

Amid the panic of the COVID-19 pandemic, are we building the surveillance states of tomorrow?

  • Edward Snowden is a former CIA contractor who exposed NSA mass surveillance programs.
  • In a recent interview, Snowden expressed concern over the ways in which governments are using technology to track the spread of the virus.
  • These new tracking measures may someday be repurposed to advance governments' mass surveillance programs, Snowden warned.

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Can foreign intervention lead to peaceful solutions?

Despite potential good intentions, interventionist policies are often viewed by classical liberals as violations of individual freedoms.

  • Intervention covers a range of activity broader than just war. Some interventions have more humanitarian aims, such as disaster relief and development aid.
  • Oftentimes, the drive behind many instances of intervention involves some form of political, economic, or social outcome.
  • There are important questions to consider regarding knowledge, goals, incentives, and unintended consequences. The answers to these indicate whether an intervention is necessary and appropriate.
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Does drone warfare reduce harm? Maybe not.

Proponents of drones in foreign conflicts argue that it reduces harm for civilians and U.S. military personnel alike. Here's why that might be wrong.

  • There has been a huge increase in drone usage since the war on terror. Proponents of drone warfare claim it reduces civilian casualties and collateral damage, that it's cheaper than conventional warfare tactics, and that it's safer for U.S. military personnel.
  • The data suggests those claims may be false, says scholar Abigail Blanco. Drones are, at best, about equivalent to conventional technologies, but in some cases may actually be worse.
  • Blanco explains how skewed US government definitions don't give honest data on civilian casualties. Drone operators also suffer worse psychological repercussions following a drone strike because of factors such as the intimacy of prolonged surveillance and heat-sensing technology which lets the operator observe the heat leaving a dying body to confirm a kill.
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Tyranny comes home: How the 'boomerang effect' impacts civilian life in the U.S.

When it comes to foreign intervention, we often overlook the practices that creep into life back home.

  • Methods used in foreign intervention often resurface domestically, whether that's in the form of skills or technology.
  • University of Tampa professor Abigail Blanco calls this the boomerang effect. It's a consequence not often thought about when we discuss foreign intervention.
  • The three channels to consider when examining the boomerang effect include human capital in the form of skills, administrative dynamics, and physical capital in the form of tools and technology.
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China tightens its grip on freedom in academics

Scholars often debate risking their livelihoods and personal safety in order to conduct research in certain areas.

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  • Authoritarian governments that rely heavily on coercion must be more intrusive about how education shapes the personality and character of its members.
  • In China, there are topics that scholars know to avoid — especially, the Three Ts: Taiwan, Tibet, and Tiananmen Square.
  • While the majority of scholars are likely toeing the party line when it comes to their research, some are working toward encouraging academic freedom in the country, often at significant risk to themselves and their families.
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