The U.S. Founding Fathers may not have foreseen the danger of lockdowns being imposed on irrational public health grounds, but they did at least ensure that while dolorously confined in one’s own house, no soldiers could be quartered there without consent, and in the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution they also prohibited “unreasonable searches and seizures” of persons and property. In recent years, the courts have unambiguously held that this fundamental anti-snooping right extends to the bits and bytes stored on computers and mobile phones, so it’s therefore rather surprising to see the plucky little Commonwealth of Massachusetts pull off something so blatantly unconstitutional that even the NSAhasn’t attempted it: the warrantless installation of spyware apps on all the Android phones in the state, granting them access to a wealth of data such as who those residents have been in physical proximity to, as well as phone numbers and email addresses. Because of Covid, you see.
The problems don’t end there. Our Massachusetts-based readers (and anyone who has been to Massachusetts since around June 15th 2021 up to the present) will still have this app on their Android phone – even if they uninstalled it, because it sneakily installs, and if necessary reinstalls itself, without user interaction and without displaying an app icon – long after Massachusetts ended its contacting-tracing programme. The number of affected devices is anywhere from one to five million.
Of course, no normal Android app could have done this, and anyone trying to create such an app would be in serious violation of Google’s Terms of Service, banned from their developer programme and then later arrested at gunpoint by a SWAT team in a no-knock dawn raid, while having one leg chewed off by a Belgian Malinois. The police bodycam footage would then end up on YouTube, where Google would demonetise it for graphic content.