The use of technological apps including Digital check-in systems, wristband trackers and mobile applications has been on the rise; a concern to many about their rights to privacy.

Privacy concern over Covid-19 contact tracing apps

“The speed at which these new privacy-shredding technologies have been unleashed is alarming, especially given that none of them have been proven to be effective at mitigating the spread of Covid-19.”

DURBAN – As the Coronavirus pandemic continues, different methods have been used by governments across the world to bring the pandemic under control.

The use of technological apps including Digital check-in systems, wristband trackers and mobile applications have been on the rise; a concern to many about their rights to privacy.

It was reported that the Chinese government had deployed drones, artificial intelligence and security cameras in front of people’s apartments to enforce quarantines and monitor public spaces.

Although most of this technology has been used mainly to help detect whether people have novel coronavirus through the detection of visual signs of Covid-19, the European Data Protection Board and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development have called on governments to cease and reverse the exceptional use of data when the pandemic is over.

According to a new report conducted by Public Citizen, workplace surveillance tools being used by employers to track and trace employees in an effort to combat Covid-19 pose a threat to employees’ privacy.

“The default setting of most workplace surveillance apps is mass surveillance by design. The speed at which these new privacy-shredding technologies have been unleashed is alarming, especially given that none of them have been proven to be effective at mitigating the spread of Covid-19,” Burcu Kilic, digital rights program director for Public Citizen and author of the report.

Meanwhile, as a governance system, the World Health Organization (WHO) has limited enforcement tools, and its surveillance system is fully dependent on states’ willingness to meet their good-faith reporting requirements. 

However, reporting compliance remains low, raising questions about the ability of low and middle-income countries (LMICs) to meet IHR obligations in the absence of adequate resourcing and financial support and about the effectiveness of the main legal framework of ‘essential’ capacities required by nations to prevent, detect and rapidly respond to public health threats. 

 

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