During the pandemic, big tech companies have been using the crisis to extend their markets and enhance the capacity of their devices. Many jurisdictions have also released people from jail on electronic monitoring, making them captives in their homes. Journalists, researchers and activists have been trying to keep up with these developments. Here are some of the best articles, blog posts, webinars and research papers that capture the challenges of the moment dealing with e-carceration. We have emphasized the inclusion of pieces that apply a lens of racial justice and/or abolition.

  1. Throughout the pandemic MediaJustice has consistently offered blog posts on how the pandemic affects e-carceration. We particularly suggest our conversation with Arissa Hall: “Unapologetic in Our Visions for Liberation” and our own offering, “Challenging E-Carceration in the Future.”
  2. The use of electronic monitoring has grown immensely during the pandemic. This piece from Bloomberg’s Cara Tabachnick covers the highlights in the U.S. and around the world.
  3. James Kilgore outlines in Truthout the ways Big Tech is taking advantage of the moment to spread their influence and products.   
  4. In Gizmodo, Molly Osberg and Dhruv Mehrota detail some of the cell phone-based surveillance apps coming to the market, many of them replacing ankle monitors.
  5. Sidney Fusell of WIRED also talks about the rise of cellphone apps as substitutes for ankle monitors for people on parole.   
  6. This report from Ava Kofman in The Intercept describes an attempt by pseudo-scientists to develop voice recognition software that can detect if a person is COVID positive. This article at Futurism covers similar attempts. 
  7. JustFuturesLaw analyzes five ways Big Tech is using the pandemic to grow its surveillance power
  8. Geekwire has a story on the Sentinel Fever Tracker, a $50 device that uses a wireless-enabled thermometer to send real-time updates on a person’s temperature to healthcare providers. 
  9. Biometric Update discusses a cell phone-based technology developed by Israel-based SuperCom that uses an electronic monitor, voice communication and the ability to measure some biometrics.
  10. The India Tribune describes how drones are being used to surveil COVID-19 movement restriction compliance in Gurugram, India. 
  11. The Appeal looks at how Cook County Jail authorities wanted to release people on EM during the pandemic, but refused to let some out when they ran out of devices
  12. The Washington Post reports on how pretrial monitoring fees in Baltimore mount up while the pandemic stops the courts from operating. These debts from EM often lead people to accept a plea deal they don’t really want.
  13. This Chicago Appleseed blog post by Sarah Staudt pushes back against Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s attempts to blame people released on EM for violent crime during the pandemic. 
  14. Stop LAPD Spying Coalition has conducted weekly webinars during the pandemic on a variety of topics relating to surveillance, policing, contact tracing, and political strategies for fighting back. Watch the recordings. 
  15. Haymarket Books has a wide range of videos dealing with COVID-19 and political strategizing. Two of special interest are “Covid-19, Decarceration and Abolition” with Ruth Wilson Gilmore and “Policing Without the Police: Race, Technology and the New Jim Code” with Ruha Benjamin and Dorothy Roberts.
  16. In “Surveillance in the Era of Pandemic and Protest,” Naomi Klein, Simone Browne and Shoshana Zuboff  discuss how governments and tech giants are using overlapping crises to push through discredited surveillance technologies. 
  17. The Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (STOP) has done a number of research papers on surveillance and COVID. You can see the entire list here
  18. Illinois’ Coalition to End Money Bond’s report describes how an increase in the use of EM during COVID-19 has contributed to  more people currently in custody than at the start of the pandemic.
  19. The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Atlas of Surveillance highlights where various surveillance devices are used across the U.S.