Proportionate and Temporary
Putting the fox in charge of guarding the henhouse is unlikely to sit well with rights and privacy groups, although they don’t exclude the use of technology to help combat the crisis.
“However, States’ efforts to contain the virus must not be used as a cover to usher in a new era of greatly expanded systems of invasive digital surveillance,” said a statement issued Thursday by 100 rights groups including Amnesty International, Privacy International and Human Rights Watch.
They warn that “an increase in state digital surveillance powers, such as obtaining access to mobile phone location data, threatens privacy, freedom of expression and freedom of association, in ways that could violate rights and degrade trust in public authorities — undermining the effectiveness of any public health response.”
They said any additional digital surveillance powers should be necessary, proportionate and temporary.
“We cannot allow the COVID-19 pandemic to serve as an excuse to gut individual’s right to privacy,” the groups said.
by Laurent Barthelemy and Richard Lein