COVID Symptoms of Power: Tech Billionaires Harvest Humanity
Bill Gates has built a global empire around his technologies and “philanthropic” endeavors. His sheer wealth has allowed him to become a veritable superpower in his own right, rising to become the unelected global health tsar on COVID-19. Indeed, the World Health Organization and the White House pandemic response team even kowtows to his nonexistent medical expertise.
Life cannot and will not go back to normal until we can vaccinate the entire global population, Gates says, and that same sentiment is being echoed from government leaders and health authorities around the world. Never mind the fact that actual scientists and medical researchers are finding all sorts of simple, inexpensive and safe strategies to address this illness.
But vaccinating the global population isn’t enough, in Gates’ eyes. We must also implement surveillance of infection and vaccination status. Not surprisingly, Gates’ recommendations benefit himself most of all.
As discussed in “Bill Gates — Most Dangerous Philanthropist in Modern History?” the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation donates billions to the very same companies and industries that the Foundation owns stocks and bonds in.
Using nonprofit money to advance research for companies you’re invested in is illegal, yet he’s been getting away with this for many years. At the same time, his Foundation gets tax breaks for the charitable donations it makes money from. Remember, he has “donated” tens of billions, yet his net worth has doubled. This is largely because his “donations” are tax deductible investments.
Pandemic Fear-Mongering Pays Off for Tech Companies
While unemployment has reached a historical high during this pandemic, the financial crush is not felt by some. In fact, Gates and other tech billionaires are cashing in big, in a variety of different ways.
In a May 8, 2020, article in The Intercept, Naomi Klein reports on how New York is tasking Gates with reinventing the state’s “post-Covid reality, with an emphasis on permanently integrating technology into every aspect of civic life.”
May 6, 2020, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the state is partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop “a smarter education system” focused on online learning. This, despite the fact that the Common Core curriculum — the Gates Foundation’s previous attempt at remaking American education — has been an abysmal failure.
The state is also partnering with Google, and Cuomo has asked former Google CEO Eric Schmidt to head a new panel to plan the state’s technological infrastructure. Schmidt joined Cuomo during a briefing, saying “The first priorities … are focused on telehealth, remote learning and broadband …” As noted by Klein:
“It has taken some time to gel, but something resembling a coherent pandemic shock doctrine is beginning to emerge.
Call it the Screen New Deal. Far more hi-tech than anything we have seen during previous disasters, the future that is being rushed into being as the bodies still pile up treats our past weeks of physical isolation not as a painful necessity to save lives, but as a living laboratory for a permanent — and highly profitable — no-touch future …
It’s a future in which our homes are never again exclusively personal spaces, but are also, via high-speed digital connectivity, our schools, our doctor’s offices, our gyms, and, if determined by the state, our jails …
It’s a future in which our every move, our every word, our every relationship is trackable, traceable and data-mineable by unprecedented collaborations between government and tech giants.
If all of this sounds familiar, it’s because, pre-Covid, this precise app-driven, gig-fueled future was being sold to us in the name of friction-free convenience and personalization. But many of us had concerns …
Today, a great many of those well-founded concerns are being swept away by a tidal wave of panic, and this warmed-over dystopia is going through a rush-job rebranding.
Now, against a harrowing backdrop of mass death, it is being sold to us on the dubious promise that these technologies are the only possible way to pandemic-proof our lives, the indispensable keys to keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe …
At the heart of this vision is seamless integration of government with a handful of Silicon Valley giants — with public schools, hospitals, doctor’s offices, police and military all outsourcing (at a high cost) many of their core functions to private tech companies.”
In her article — which is well worth reading in its entirety — Klein reviews how Schmidt and Gates have been working and pushing toward the future that is now staring us square in the face, and how the surveillance apparatus that consumers have been railing against is now being rebranded as the answer to everyone’s health concerns.
In a May 6, 2020, article, Vox’s Theodore Schleifer weighed in on Cuomo’s decision to hand over the proverbial keys to the state to tech billionaires whose philanthropy always ends up benefiting themselves the most:
“Details are scarce about exactly how much power these groups will have beyond issuing recommendations or whether their work will be public. But Gates could suddenly have the ability to recommend what types of things are taught to the state’s students in a ‘reimagined’ system.
Schmidt could encourage the state to significantly embrace remote health care services that could be controversial. While both have been successful business leaders, the concern would mirror the broader criticism of billionaire philanthropy: that this ‘help’ offers a few wealthy people some undemocratic influence over American public policy.”
Schmidt Futures Wants to Make Private Data Public
While less visible than Gates, Schmidt can hardly be trusted any more than Gates. Schmidt Futures — Eric and Wendy Schmidt’s philanthropic initiative, which “seeks to improve societal outcomes through the thoughtful development of emerging science and technologies that can benefit humanity” — admits that one of its approaches is to “liberate private data with a public purpose.”
Clearly, infection status falls into a category of private data that is now rebranded as having a “public purpose.” As noted on its website:
“There is a tremendous opportunity to use data collected by the private sector to solve societal challenges, and in doing so create the platforms needed to reach people at scale. Examples of data types include mobile, social media, e-commerce, remote sensing/satellite, and sensor data. Advances in data science and machine learning are increasing our capacity to use and interpret these data.”
‘Unaccountable Monopolists’ Replace Elected Representatives
In a May 14, 2020, Guardian article, Zephyr Teachout and Pat Garofalo comment:
“Even if Schmidt and Gates had good policies, Cuomo’s knighting of them is offensive to American self-government. Nobody voted for them and they are accountable to no one. Cuomo, often accused of being too close to big campaign donors, is tripling down: he is simply allowing billionaires to plan our future directly, taking out the middlemen.
In case you had any doubt that this is a new form of government worming its way into our old democratic ways, Cuomo anointed these tsars at the exact same time that he took vast new powers away from the state legislature,11 which has not been holding regular legislative hearings since 1 April …
Turning away from locally-elected representatives, and towards billionaires with no accountability, represents a terrible erosion of democratic decision-making: Cuomo is quite literally replacing elected representatives with private, unaccountable monopolists. And too many other lawmakers across the U.S. are doing the same thing.”
The Gates, Soros and Clinton Contact Tracing Group
Whether preplanned or not, the COVID-19 pandemic is clearly being used to usher in highly controversial changes that are unmistakably totalitarian-building, including the private take-over of government through public-private partnerships.
Contact tracing serves as a convenient bridge for this hostile takeover parading as “aid.” Not only is Big Tech offering up contact tracing apps, self-serving billionaires are also funding contact tracing groups that will provide “boots on the ground” services.
For example, Partners in Health — the group selected by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker to conduct COVID-19 contact tracing using teams of investigators to interview people who test positive — is funded by Gates and one of the richest men in the world, George Soros. The William J. Clinton Foundation has also funded Partners in Health in the past.
Chelsey Clinton sits on its board of trustees, and one of the group’s co-founders, Jim Kim, spent three years at the WHO and is currently the president of the World Bank. He rejoined Partners in Health’s board of directors in January 2019.
UK Demands Answers About COVID Data Deal
Meanwhile, on the other side of the pond, OpenDemocracy and the tech start-up Foxglove are demanding the U.K. government share the details of its patient data deals with Big Tech. In a May 7, 2020, post, OpenDemocracy.net writes:
“Outside of the horrific death toll, perhaps the most far-reaching global consequence of the pandemic is the rapid expansion of surveillance in our daily lives. In the name of beating back the pandemic, governments around the world are giving tech giants extensive access to valuable stores of health data.
Britain is no different. On 28 March, a blog quietly appeared on the website of the cherished National Health Service. It announced what might be the largest handover of NHS patient data to private corporations in history.
U.S. tech giants Amazon, Microsoft, and Google — plus two controversial AI films called Faculty and Palantir — are apparently assisting the NHS in tracking hospital resources and in providing a ‘single source of truth’ about the epidemic, in order to stem its spread.”
While the amount of British health data being shared with these companies has been described as “unprecedented,” the U.K. government has yet to release the details about the partnership.
Suspiciously, Palantir is reportedly providing its COVID-19 Datastore services to the NHS for just £1. This despite the fact that its services are estimated to cost around £88,000 a week, and that’s just for salaries. How and why is Palantir giving away its services for free? The old adage, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch” seems applicable here.
OpenDemocracy also questions how the artificial intelligence (AI) startup Faculty has managed to land seven different government contracts worth nearly £1 million in the last 18 months.
“We have laws in Britain which mean journalists and members of the public can access information about such deals, so that they can answer precisely these sorts of questions. But now the UK government is acting as though these laws no longer apply,” OpenDemocracy writes.
UK Government Ignores FOIA Request
Foxglove submitted Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the U.K. government on April 3, 2020. A reply is required within 20 working days, yet no response has been forthcoming. The British Information Commissioner’s Office, the independent regulator responsible for FOIA enforcement, has announced it has relaxed enforcement for the duration of the pandemic crisis.
That seems suspiciously convenient, considering deals are being made in secret that shouldn’t be, and panic is being drummed up without much real-world data to support the narrative that we’re still in a high-risk situation.
“Although the wording of the announcement was vague, it risks leaving the public with no practical way to hold the government to account — indefinitely,” OpenDemocracy states, adding:
“We have given the UK government until 11 May to release the information requested about these massive COVID data deals. If they fail to do so, we will consider seeking answers in the courts.
The public urgently needs to know not only how their personal information is being traded, and who has access to it. But also whether this pandemic means that our rights to ask questions, and to scrutinize the actions of our leaders, are fundamentally compromised. COVID-19 cannot be an excuse for governments and corporations to avoid accountability.”
Tech Initiative Seeks to Alter Global Behavior
Anyone still living under the misguided spell that governments’ responses to this pandemic are simply temporary emergency measures need to rapidly reassess. As reported by Vox,23 tech billionaires like Gates and Schmidt are hard at work trying to convince governments and the public at large that only they can save us from another pandemic.
Such is the focus of the Pandemic Action Network, responsible for the #MaskingForAFriend Twitter campaign, pushed by Hillary Clinton and other celebrities.
“… the #MaskingForAFriend campaign … seeks to change personal behavior. But its more important ambition is to change government behavior,” Vox writes.
“This initiative is one of the more forward-looking attempts from philanthropy to shape what the world looks like after the crisis, and one of the few focused on political advocacy. The push is small for now, with just $1.5 million in initial cash from Schmidt Futures, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and other backers.
But the Pandemic Action Network aims to lead a pressure campaign that shapes the policy debate, a debate that will be at the fore of the next wave of pandemic response efforts.”
Digital Health Passports Coming to 15 Nations
A lead-in to global totalitarianism, predicated on protecting public health and preventing another pandemic, is the issuance of “digital health passports.” According to the British tech magazine Verdict, coronavirus digital health passports are now being supplied to 15 nations.
The passport is “designed to make it easier for individuals to return to work after the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic” — as if we’ve never been able to return to normal life after any other epidemic or pandemic scare. In a May 11, 2020, article Verdict reports:
“These countries will include Italy, Portugal, France, Panama, India, the U.S., Canada, Sweden, Spain, South Africa, Mexico, United Arab Emirates and The Netherlands, with the goal of supplying 50 million digital health passports … The Covi-pass will work using a color system of green, amber, red to indicate whether the individual has tested positive or negative for Covid-19 and relevant health information.
Firstly, the user downloads the app and enters key information such as name, address, age and verifies their identity using their fingerprint or a facial scan.
They then take a Covid-19 test, administered by an authorized healthcare professional, and the results are scanned into the Covi-pass. They can then use the digital health passport to authenticate their health status to enable ‘a safe return to work, life, and safe travel.’”
According to Covipass.com, the app will display “your COVID-19 test history and immunoresponse and other relevant health information.”
As I’ve stated before, a RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) test result is basically worthless, since a) it merely detects the presence of SARS-CoV-2 genetic material, not the actual virus, and b) you can get infected at any time after you get your test results, rendering the “verification” of your infection status null and void.
According to a recent speech by U.S. President Donald Trump, his administration is mobilizing the military to distribute the vaccine once ready, which could be as early as the end of 2020.
At the same time, the U.S. Senate has voted to renew federal surveillance powers that would otherwise have expired, and an ill-named bill, HR 6666, would put the government in charge of COVID-19 tracking and tracing, costing taxpayers a whopping $100 billion.
Virus Surveillance and Civil Liberties Collide
As predicted in a Law360 article published April 26, 2020, virus surveillance is now colliding head-on with civil liberties:
“Imagine your phone buzzing with an alert: Someone who passed you at the grocery store has tested positive for COVID-19. Based on location data transmitted through a smart phone app, authorities believe the stranger exposed you to the coronavirus. You might be infected.
The alert directs you to self-quarantine for 14 days to prevent further spread of the deadly disease. In the app, a map of color-coded dots displays the population of your home town. You notice the dot associated with you, previously green, has turned to yellow — now everyone else with the app knows you could be dangerous.
Whether the scenario sounds Orwellian or absolutely necessary could depend on your answer to a rhetorical question Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recently posed during a live Snapchat interview. ‘Do you give up a little liberty to get a little protection?’ he said.”
The answer to that question should be a resounding “no.” The idea that government can keep you safe against a virus by giving up your civil liberties is a fantasy that must be outgrown. As noted by CNN Business:
“It took the attacks of September 11, 2001 to shove aside the previous decade’s phobia of mass surveillance, and usher in an era where many of us imagined the state was probably skimming our emails, in exchange for keeping us safe from terror.
Over the next 15 years, billions of people agreed to a tacit deal where Facebook or Google were permitted to learn a staggering amount about them in exchange for free access to messaging apps, news, and shared pictures … Eventually, that mutated into the heights exemplified by Cambridge Analytica — private companies hoovering up the online lives of tens of millions in order to try to sway elections.
But the challenge presented by Covid-19 — and the urgent need to trace contacts and movements — is of another scale of intimacy … Technology is again claiming the mantle of the savior … embedding into our phones anonymous methods of knowing who we may have infected and when … If they become ubiquitous, where does this new scrutiny end? … Will we look back at 2020 as the moment privacy finally evaporated?”
It’s time to fully recognize that surveillance has become the biggest for-profit industry on the planet, and your entire existence is now being targeted for profit.
For a better understanding of what you’re giving up by going along with the mainstream narrative that we need Big Tech to save us, see my article about social psychologist and Harvard professor Shoshana Zuboff and her extraordinary book, “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism.”