During the COVID-19 pandemic, three long-established forms of power—sovereign, disciplinary, and regulatory—have been conspicuously deployed around the world, as seen in lockdowns, quarantines, and behavioral rules. The pandemic has also revealed a fourth form of power: sensory power, which emerged with the rapid evolution of sensing and surveillance technologies. The data collected by tracking and tracing constitutes a planetary ecosystem for governing people. Whether this leads to digital dictatorships or digital democracies, the growth of sensory power will change the relationship between states and citizens in the twenty-first century.

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