As various state and local governments prepare to unleash an “army of contact tracers” in America to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, Michelle Malkin is asking perhaps the most important question: who benefits?
On the surface, it might seem as though, well, citizens who want to contribute to ending the pandemic win, right?
In her op-ed for BizPac Review, however, Malkin lays out why “corporations, political lobbyists and government bureaucracies all win” in the contact tracing game, while “privacy, freedom and family autonomy all lose. Big time.”
Malkin directs readers first to House Bill 6666, sponsored by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), Known as the Testing, Reaching and Contacting Everyone (TRACE) Act. This legislation would give a staggering $100 billion in public funding to “eligible entities” to “conduct diagnostic testing for COVID-19, and related activities such as contact tracing, through mobile health units and, as necessary, at individuals’ residences, and for other purposes.”
“The cash,” Malkin says, “could be used to hunt down infected individuals, quarantine them in their homes for undefined periods under unknown conditions and subsidize a hiring spree of untold thousands of trackers from nonprofits, schools and medical facilities.”
The “other purposes,” Malkin goes on, are left conveniently undefined, “leaving Swamp public health bureaucrats and their pet grantees’ imaginations to run wild.”
“What recourse or appeals process to citizens have when the ‘experts’ get diagnoses and assessments wrong?” the conservative pundit asks. “Or when, say, homeschool families refuse to submit to intrusive phone call monitoring or forced quarantine? What are the opt-in or opt-out mechanisms? H.R. 6666 is silent on all these fundamental issues of autonomy and sovereignty. Feel safer yet?”
This frightening boost of capital to the surveillance state comes on top of $631 million in Centers for Disease Control funding for contact tracing tucked into the recently-passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Another $75 billion in proposed contact-tracing spending has been folded into in the House Democrats’ second stimulus bill, known as the HEROES Act.
So, there’s a lot of money at play here—who is it going to?
Malkin explains a prominent figure in the “digital transformation services” industry: a company called MTX:
Founded in Albany, New York, and now based in Frisco, Texas, the small software company is raking in hundreds of millions of tax dollars to construct “virtual call centers” of 25,000 COVID data-mining agents. In Chicago, MTX has partnered with Google to create an app so residents can “pre-register” for the vaunted coronavirus vaccine and receive alerts on treatments and testing. In Georgia, the company nailed a five-year government contract for a new online contact-tracing platform. In New York and Massachusetts, MTX’s mission has spread to monitoring jobless claims and child care facilities.
Texas mom and student privacy activist Lynn Davenport told Malkin that MTX is “also donating its newly launched tracking application to all public school districts in the U.S.”
How generous. As we’ve previously reported, data from our children is especially valuable to Big Tech, and free stuff is not worth it.
“When it’s free, YOU (and your children) are the product,” Davenport says.
“Never forget: The price of ‘free’ apps is access to your kids’ search engine queries, website and video browsing, and undoubtedly just around the corner: their temperature, weight and mental health,” Malkin adds.
While Malkin readily concedes that contact tracing “makes sense for some types of infectious disease epidemics,” attempting to use it with something as widespread as COVID-19, “with possibly hundreds of millions of asymptomatic people, it amounts to yet another cost-ineffective, virtue-signaling boondoggle.”
And, while privacy is loosely guaranteed when using these apps, Malkin warns that the U.S. Health and Human Services “quietly relaxed Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act data security and privacy requirements for pandemic testing sites, which will allow Big Pharma interests and other business interests to access previously protected personal health information.”
Unsurprisingly, the back-room evidence surrounding these lucrative contracts is hard to come by.
The Houston Chronicle reporters tried to shed sunlight on MTX’s deal with Texas Republicans, including Governor Greg Abbott, but Malkin says they were “lucky to obtain a heavily redacted copy of the company’s $295 million contract (paid with your money and mine).”
Such contracts are made all the more alarming when you realize that these contracts were, as the Chronicle reports, “put together within just a few days… MTX hired Austin-based lobbyists Andrea and Dean McWilliams for up to $50,000 each, according to public disclosure documents.”
Malkin has plenty to say about these lobbyists, and it’s both enlightening and disturbing:
The McWilliamses are the Matt and Mercedes Schlapp of Texas — consummate insiders and six-figure Bush bundlers looking out for their corporate clients over our constitutional rights and medical freedom. Not coincidentally, MTX reflects the “America last” values of the open borders Bush empire. The firm runs a “development center” out of offshore outsourcing hub Hyderabad, India, and CEO Das Nobel aspires to lead a “diverse” “billion-dollar-company” from which he hopes to “advance our culture initiatives.”
So, does anyone really still think this is about protection from a virus?
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