London – CAGE has released a briefing paper warning about the exploitation of the Covid-19 pandemic to build on existing counter terrorism infrastructure, to further infiltrate public health and private life.

The paper emphasises that new Covid-19 laws risk normalising ‘exceptional’ powers, and could reshape surveillance and policing for the long term, and deeply tie them to the public sector.

CAGE raised these concerns previously in 2014 in our report  “A Cradle to Grave Police State, and has repeatedly spoken out against the government’s exploitation of societal fears and prejudices, which then facilitates new laws that allow the invasion of privacy and curtailment of freedoms.


The latest paper, entitled: “Exploiting a Pandemic: The Security Industry’s Race to Infiltrate Public Health” , outlines the following key concerns:


  • Aspects of a proposed centralised contact tracing system will be outsourced to known rights abusers, such as Serco and G4S, and third party firms like Palantir, which has been solicited in US police raids on migrant communities;

  • Right-wing groups such as Policy Exchange and the Henry Jackson Society are trying to weave their toxic securitised approaches into the realm of public health for material and political profit;

  • PREVENT purveyors are trying to remain relevant through attempts to embed the policy into the home, while hinting at online surveillance to close down digital spaces of organising;

  • The CCE’s latest trick to criminalise “conspiracy theories” as a new kind of “extremism” underlines its true purpose to control discourse and thought, as well as silence criticism of the government.


Azfar Shafi, researcher at CAGE and author of the paper, said:


“Security profiteers have been leveraging the pandemic for their own ends, repeating the need to promote a ‘new contract’ between the public and government that will only lead us further into a centrally surveilled, security state. Concerned people and groups must resist this together.”

“These moves underline the importance of CAGE’s unchanging position against a securitised and politicised public sector. We will continue to guard the rights of communities and all those impacted by security abuse.”




(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)