‘Incredible’; ABC Spot, CNN Host Marvel at China’s Mass Surveillance

 ‘Incredible’; ABC Spot, CNN Host Marvel at China’s Mass Surveillance

There was a disturbing trend that popped up on ABC’s World News Tonight and CNN’s latest coronavirus town hall Thursday night (the latter hosted by Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta on Thursday). Both ABC and Cooper marveled in amazement at the mobilization communist China’s mass surveillance state to track their citizens and monitor for their coronavirus. Cooper seemed to go slack-jawed after hearing about a required tracking app and called it “incredible.”

Cooper and Gupta were speaking with correspondent David Culver, who was in Shanghai and explained to them how he didn’t realize that Chinese officials were forcing him to get the app. Before Culver explained how the app was needed to go anywhere, Cooper briefly noted it was “incredibly detailed and personal and invasive.”

Some might argue that the coronavirus test, which requires a long cotton swab inserted into the nose to swab the top of the throat, is invasive. The term seemed inadequate in terms of China’s spying. “Disturbing” was a more suitable descriptor.

“Incredibly invasive. I don’t know if it can happen in other parts of the world,” Culver told them. Cooper’s response was to call it “Incredible” and ask Culver if he was tested and if the app considered that. Culver explained that it’s used to track people who may have come into contact with someone who was infected:

The idea here is that they can determine whether or not you’ve been around somebody who’s a confirmed case. And that’s using some of the geo-locations, tracking on the cell phone. And they can specify if you’re on a train, for example, and you’re on one end of the carriage or a separate car from a confirmed case. Depending on how far you were or how close you are to that confirmed case, they can then change your bar code, your QR to a yellow or red and you can then go into self-isolation or governor quarantine.

Cooper could barely contain his excitement and was tripping over his words. “That – I mean – Sanjay – that’s incredible that they can – I mean, that’s a level of surveillance which obviously does not exist here,” he touted and lamented at the same time. Luckily, Gupta reminded his co-host that that kind of surveillance “could not exist” in America.

Meanwhile, over on ABC, anchor David Muir touted the reopening of Wuhan and the “experimental technology allowing police to scan the crowd for body temperatures, looking for fevers.” And foreign correspondent Ian Pannell didn’t bat an eye when he talked the “new normal” in Wuhan, “one that keeps watch everywhere.”

“Local police boasting of new technology deployed. Helmets with a video thermometer they claim allows officers to scan the temperatures of more than 100 airport passengers in just two minutes. It’s not clear if this experimental tech is a practical tool,” he said.

Yes, because the biggest concern with China’s mass surveillance state was the practicality of the tools…not.

Pannell also briefly touched on the app discussed on CNN. “And now new signs requiring patients to scan a health code which will allow some to travel on the subway,” he said.

The transcripts are below, click “expand” to read:

ABC’s World News Tonight
April 9, 2020
6:44:36 p.m. Eastern

DAVID MUIR: Overseas, members of our team traveling to Wuhan, China, tonight. That city now open, but with new rules and experimental technology allowing police to scan the crowd for body temperatures, looking for fevers. Here’s our foreign correspondent Ian Pannell tonight.

[Cuts to video]

IAN PANNELL: Tonight, a city on the mend, surging back to life. This time-lapse showing just how quickly morning traffic has returned to Wuhan’s streets. But this is a new normal, one that keeps watch everywhere.

Local police boasting of new technology deployed. Helmets with a video thermometer they claim allows officers to scan the temperatures of more than 100 airport passengers in just two minutes. It’s not clear if this experimental tech is a practical tool.

Our team traveling from Beijing to Wuhan, seeing life first-hand after the 76-day lockdown was lifted. Nervous residents still wearing protective gear. Travelers even being scolded for not wearing masks properly. And now new signs requiring patients scan a health code which will allow some to travel on the subway.

Even on the Yangtze River security checkpoints scan the crowds’ temperature, checking phone health codes, before allowing them in to view their city’s light show.

(…)

Coronavirus: Facts and Fears: A CNN Global Town Hall
April 9, 2020
8:07:59 p.m. Eastern

ANDERSON COOPER: As the country talks about reopening the economy, China’s already begun reopening its country, including the city that was the source of the virus, Wuhan.

For more, now, let’s go to David Culver in Shanghai. So last night you showed us the app that the Chinese government uses to track people in the country. It’s incredibly detailed and personal and invasive. Can you explain how you signed up for the app? I mean, how is it used?

DAVID CULVER: Yeah, let me walk you through that, Anderson, because I’ve been getting a lot of questions. This is the QR code, a bar code equivalent that I have. It’s really specific to me, and everyone who’s registered for one has something just like that. You have to use it to get into places like hotels, restaurants, shopping malls. It’s your golden key, essentially.

Let me show you going back to when I arrived here in Shanghai. And I don’t think I fully realized it at the time. But that’s what I was signing up for along with every single person that got off the train. You’re going through a line, they monitor your temperature, you’re met with folks in hazmat suits, they ask for – if you’re Chinese, your national I.D. card. If you’re a foreigner, like me, I handed over my U.S. passport. It’s then linked to not only your passport number, but also your cell phone number so that they can continue to track you.

And I can show you how it’s used if you are headed into, for example, a space like a hotel. As soon as you walk in they’ve set up tables that naturally have the temperature screening, they have the hand sanitizer and then they ask to see your app. You open it up in real-time because people have been screenshotting them. So, they figured out a workaround to avoid that. So you actually have to push the button and show it time stamped. And then they check it, verify it and they’ll let you in.

Incredibly invasive. I don’t know if it can happen in other parts of the world.

COOPER: Incredible!

CULVER: Though it is their way of tracing and tracking.

COOPER: So, I mean, have they done a test on you and therefore — Did they do a nasal swab test on you and you passed that and, therefore, every time they check your temperature they assume you haven’t got infected? How do they know you’re not infected?

CULVER: That’s a good question. Incredibly, I have not been tested even though I was actually in Wuhan just ahead of the lockdown and did 14 days of quarantine and have subsequently been here in Shanghai. I’ve not been tested. That’s not part of this.

The idea here is that they can determine whether or not you’ve been around somebody who’s a confirmed case. And that’s using some of the geo-locations, tracking on the cell phone. And they can specify if you’re on a train, for example, and you’re on one end of the carriage or a separate car from a confirmed case. Depending on how far you were or how close you are to that confirmed case, they can then change your bar code, your QR to a yellow or red and you can then go into self-isolation or governor quarantine.

COOPER: That — I mean – Sanjay — that’s incredible that they can — I mean, that’s a level of surveillance which obviously does not exist here.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA: And I think could not exist. I think David probably would agree with that. He’s lived in both places, China and here.

(…)

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