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Scoring in 2030 will have been shaped by health crises

4 minutes
The COVID-19 crisis is regulating today’s world and shaping our future. There are many ways to fight the pandemic, but the one that interests us and will have the most impact after the containment period is the geolocalized tracking of citizens’ smartphones. A tracking that opens the way for a “social scoring” already implemented in China and that could happen in multiple countries over the next decade.


The fact

To date, 25 countries are using citizens’ mobile data to fight the coronavirus epidemic. The main objective is to check that people with symptoms are complying with their quarantine and to warn people if they may have been in contact with a sick person.  The 25 countries include 14 European countries, including Germany, Austria and Italy, and 8 Asian countries, including India, South Korea and the United States. In Asia, out of the 8 countries using GPS data, several use it for censorship, such as China, Cambodia and Thailand (source: GPSWorld).

In France, too, the Research Analysis and Expertise Committee and the StopCOVID application are thinking about this tracking system. Moreover, the CNIL has warned about anonymizing the data collected if the tracking process is implemented.

Orange has transferred data on 34 million users to the European Commission in order to assess social interactions and therefore potential contamination. Orange was also able to demonstrate that around 17% of Parisians had left the Parisian capital and its inner suburbs (i.e. more than one million people) to go to the provinces at the start of the containment. Google, for its part, is analysing the impact of containment on the mobility of citizens in more than 130 countries via its Covid-19 mobility site. Google and Apple are working together on tracing the interactions of individuals and therefore potential patients thanks to Bluetooth. It is therefore an entire ecosystem from the private world to the public world that has mobilized around the tracking of individuals in order to limit the spread of the virus.

COVID-19 could redefine the rules of privacy in many countries in a matter of weeks. What about the European RGPD regulation? Isn’t the door open to the use of new data by exploiting the fight against COVID-19. As an individual, wouldn’t you be ready to give access to your position in order not to return to containment? Would you be willing to be tested without symptoms? And after the crisis, will all states back down or go even further on tracing citizens? Isn’t this tracing the first step in scoring citizens?

The decoding

The European Commission is closely monitoring what is happening in those countries that have decided to activate mobile data exploitation. It calls for these data to be properly anonymised.

However, outside Europe, it is highly likely that this first stage of tracing for health reasons will open the way to a new form of scoring. Populations will have become accustomed to being monitored and controlled under health cover. This could open the way to new scoring using data such as our DNA in order to know, for example, our predispositions for certain diseases. 

Indeed, DNA testing is becoming increasingly common in many countries. In Palo Alto, California, it has even become normal to do a prenatal DNA test according to biologist Drew Endy. Children before they are even born are analyzed, evaluated and scored. Based on your DNA, the startup DNAnudge tells you what to eat. Orig3n proposes to tell you the sport that suits you best. DNA becomes a kind of consumption driver.

A DNA that in the future could be used to access, for example, utilities and financial services, either as a universal password or as a source of risk analysis. Indeed, why not use DNA instead of the famous health questionnaire when taking out a mortgage?

In Saudi Arabia it goes even further. For any request for Saudi nationality a DNA test will be carried out. This is certainly only a first step before the generalization of these tests to the entire Saudi population. DNA will then become an element of citizenship. 

If in Europe we are still immune to social scoring, there is no doubt that it will not remain a Chinese exclusivity. It is indeed the Coronavirus crisis that will speed up the implementation of citizen monitoring and long-term evaluation under the pretext of health. In this decade, several dozen countries will use technology to analyse and scan their populations. States will even make DNA a national identifier, which could remind us of the dark hours of our history in the last century.

The Black Mirror scoring of which Lacie was the victim seems to be becoming a reality and DNA will be the key. Get ready!

As an expert in emerging technologies, Nicolas travels to innovation shows around the world to spot and analyse the new trends.
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