From Cold War to Coronavirus – Jean Seaton speaks at Imperial War Museum event

9 July 2020
At the most basic level, controlling an infectious disease depends on interrupting its spread from person to person. And in the absence of a coronavirus vaccine, many countries are turning to testing, tracing, identifying and isolating infected people as the key to their strategy for suppressing the virus. But this approach is not without controversy – some countries have been forced to backtrack on mass surveillance track-and-trace apps that they have been developing, amid fears that they have a disproportionate impact on the privacy of their citizens. There has also been a divergence between the approaches of many governments, who favour more centralised tracking systems, and tech companies who have an emphasis on more decentralised platforms that provide users with more privacy.
So what lessons can be learned from previous controversies around surveillance? And since we are now witnessing levels of government intrusion not seen since the days of blackouts and rationing in World War II, how will this impact the relationship between citizens and governments in the future? Join Media Historian Jean Seaton, Think Tank Research Director Carl Miller and Australian High Commissioner George Brandis with BBC Newsnight’s Mark Ubran for this discussion. Discussion participants do not represent the views of Imperial War Museums.
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