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FFTF Warns of Virus Exploitation to Curb Rights

Net neutrality activist group Fight for the Future (FFTF) has launched an online campaign that both encourages the government, public and corporations to heed public health messages and warns against attempts "to exploit this crisis to undermine fundamental rights and freedoms."

Related: Sen. Markey Concerned About Geolocation Virus Tracking

Those were the same fears, which some argue were realized, over the surveillance laws and various restrictions implemented by the government following 9/11. 

FFTF points to "some dangerous proposals with no basis in medical science, such as the DOJ requesting the power to indefinitely detain people without a warrant, facial recognition surveillance companies seeing the crisis as a business opportunity, and the potential of mass collection of cell phone location data." 

The group says privacy protections aren't enough, and that lines in the sand need to be drawn now. 

Those include avoiding responses to the crisis that: 

  • Increase invasive surveillance or monitoring of our movements and communications, or require companies to hand over our personal data to the government. 
  • Censor free speech or limit the free flow of information. Medical professionals should be free to speak out, and members of the public should be free to question and debate. Governments and social media companies should increase transparency. 
  • Unnecessarily restrict our freedom of movement. When medical experts deem it necessary, we should close down schools, businesses, and public gatherings. But governments should not use the threat of violence, fines, or imprisonment to enforce shelter-in-place orders. There should be no checkpoints, random stops, or overly restrictive curfews that don’t have a public health benefit. 
  • Undermine due process and the rule of law. There must be no indefinite detention without trial, and no suspension of other basic constitutional and human rights. Law enforcement has no authority to detain or question people without reasonable suspicion, and that should not change under quarantine. 
John Eggerton
John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.