‘We can’t go back to normal’: how will coronavirus change the world?

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Times of upheaval are always times of radical change. Some believe the pandemic is a once-in-a-generation chance to remake society and build a better future. Others fear it may only make existing injustices worse.

Everything feels new, unbelievable, overwhelming. At the same time, it feels as if we’ve walked into an old recurring dream. In a way, we have. We’ve seen it before, on TV and in blockbusters. We knew roughly what it would be like, and somehow this makes the encounter not less strange, but more so.

Every day brings news of developments that, as recently as February, would have felt impossible – the work of years, not mere days. We refresh the news not because of a civic sense that following the news is important, but because so much may have happened since the last refresh. These developments are coming so fast that it’s hard to remember just how radical they are.

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China introduces mandatory face scans for people buying mobile phones

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The rule came into effect on December 1st, to “protect” Chinese citizens’ rights and security in cyberspace.

Now people buying new mobile phones and phone contracts in China will have to provide a scan of their faces.

The rule came into effect on Sunday, 1 December and is meant to “protect the legitimate rights and interest of citizens in cyberspace,” according to China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

The faces of customers buying new SIM cards must now match their I.D. documents.

It might seem like a step in the right direction along with technological advancement, however, a few privacy concerns have arisen.

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Gatwick Airport commits to facial recognition tech at boarding

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Gatwick first trialled facial-recognition-based checks at some of its departure gates last year

Gatwick has become the UK’s first airport to confirm it will use facial-recognition cameras on a permanent basis for ID checks before passengers board planes.

It follows a self-boarding trial carried out in partnership with EasyJet last year.

The London airport said the technology should reduce queuing times but travellers would still need to carry passports.

Privacy campaigners are concerned.

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San Francisco bans city use of facial recognition technology tools

E594A3F2-1B2A-451F-A296-DBA2DBA6C032San Francisco bans city use of facial recognition technology tools

Pedestrians walk along Post Street in San Francisco. The city became the first in the United States to ban facial recognition technology by police and city agencies. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

Concerned that some new surveillance technologies may be too intrusive, San Francisco became the first U.S. city to ban the use of facial recognition tools by its police and other municipal departments.

The Board of Supervisors approved the Stop Secret Surveillance ordinance Tuesday, culminating a reexamination of city policy that began with the false arrest of Denise Green in 2014. Green’s Lexus was misidentified as a stolen vehicle by an automated license-plate reader. She was pulled over by police, forced out of the car and onto her knees at gunpoint by six officers. The city spent $500,000 to settle lawsuits linked to her detention.

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