The Trump administration is flirting with the idea of creating a social credit system with help from Big Tech to use spy data collected from Amazon, Google, and Apple devices to see if certain individuals are fit to own a gun.
What seemed like a distant threat confined to an authoritarian country like China may now be washing up on our shores.
The Daily Caller reported that this “proposal is part of an initiative to create a Health Advanced Research Projects Agency (HARPA), which would be located inside the Health and Human Services Department.” It added, “the new agency would have a separate budget and the president would be responsible for appointing its director.”
HARPA would use “breakthrough technologies with high specificity and sensitivity for early diagnosis of neuropsychiatric violence”, which include Apple Watches, Amazon Echo, and Google Home.
Simply put, the data that these devices gather would be used to strip law-abiding Americans of their basic rights.
Chris Menahan of Information Liberation, an independent news site, nailed it when he said, “Though the proposal is starting as a voluntary data collection scheme allegedly aimed at finding warning signs of mental illness, we all know so-called “voluntary” government programs often become mandatory at the drop of a hat. ”
If speculation holds true, this proposal could allow Big Tech to engage in neuro-surveillance of citizens through their smartphones and smart home devices.
When talking about gun control in recent times, more than just the right to bear arms is at stake. With proposals like red flag laws and pre-crime legislation like the Threat Assessment, Prevention, and Safety (TAPS) Act being discussed, rights to self-defense and due process are under legitimate threat. This is a potential double whammy of civil liberties violations.
We must remember that the fight for liberty is an all-inclusive package. Certain political debates may deal with a specific issue—in this case, gun violence — but they are often linked to other issues such as due process, free speech, etc. In other words, losing one fight on civil liberties could create a domino effect of further losses of liberties.
Liberty is not an isolated concept. When one aspect is undermined, others follow. The outrage following these mass shootings is the perfect time for libertarians to calmly explain the implications of the gun control measures D.C. is putting forward. During debates like these, rational arguments and a staunch defense of liberty are desperately needed.