A global network of government officials named UNITE will meet next week to discuss how they can ensure increased government control in future pandemics.
The network was founded by Portuguese MP Ricardo Baptista Leite, who collaborates closely with the World Health Organization (WHO), according to Health Policy Watch.
Leite formed UNITE because he felt government officials, who he sees as having largely been passive and uninvolved, need to be more hands-on in managing pandemics.
“The voice of parliamentarians was not part of the discussion,” Leite said, referring to a 2017 UN resolution on the nexus of global health and foreign policy. “One cannot expect to build a global health architecture or move forward science-based policy making if we do not keep those who write policy in the loop. We cannot make sure money gets where it needs to if we do not include those that make and approve budgets in parliaments.”
Many have found Leite’s remarks puzzling given the overreaching involvement by global governments – particularly liberal democracies – in the COVID-19 pandemic, many of whom seized the opportunity to become totalitarian bio-security states.
Israel’s Shin Bet, the country’s domestic intelligence agency, for example, openly tracked the phones of private citizens without their consent for “contact tracing”. The Middle East’s "only democracy” also considered using a bracelet system to identify the unvaccinated in public, toyed with increasing their health insurance premiums, and tried to implement lockdowns only for the unvaccinated.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who once threatened to ban summer unless enough citizens took the government’s COVID injections, proudly admitted to trying to divide the country into classes of vaccinated and unvaccinated. Ardern also instructed citizens to only believe the government.
“We will continue to be your single source of truth,” Ardern said at a press conference. “Unless you hear it from us it is not the truth.”
Victoria Premier Dan Andrews created a database in August 2020 in response to COVID-19 to act as a “single source of truth” and keep tabs on Victorians. A September 2020 briefing note said the registry, called Insights Victoria, was to remain even after the pandemic and continue to “inform decision-making". According to reports, Andrews has been secretly monitoring the credit card transaction data and social media behavior of private Victorian citizens, which he stores in the database, accessible to only select government officials, including law enforcement.
In the United States, the Massachusetts Department of Health (DPH) worked with Google to tap into over one million Android smartphones for contact tracing, according to a class-action lawsuit filed against the commonwealth. The lawsuit alleges that a tracking app was secretly auto-installed on the phones, though it was not visible alongside other apps. The MassNotify app could only be found if the user opened Settings and used the View All Apps feature. If a user found the app and deleted it, the DPH would simply have it re-installed.
In addition to getting government officials to be more involved in pandemics, Leite also seeks to unite “in one voice” all governments under the UN's Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.