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In a number of countries have developed apps for smartphones that allows you to enforce the quarantine, and the government of the Russian Federation use street cameras with face detection function

art24pro / DepositPhotos

Pandemic coronavirus has forced the authorities around the world to engage in the development and implementation of new technologies designed to limit the spread of the disease. So, in a number of countries have developed apps for smartphones that allows you to enforce the quarantine, and the government of the Russian Federation use street cameras with face recognition technology. the Council of Europe Commissioner for human rights Dunja Mijatovic in his article, which publishes “Kommersant”, warns against further use these technologies to harm.

According to Mijatovic, in connection with the threat of a pandemic, governments were forced to take extraordinary measures such as travel restrictions and rules for the observance of quarantine. These measures provide “encouraging results”, and the governments of some countries to gradually ease restrictions. However, “it is extremely important to ensure that restrictive measures do not remain in force after the emergency situation,” writes the Commissioner. These include the use of digital tools of surveillance of contacts of locals who help to contain the spread of the disease, but should not interfere with people’s right to privacy.

“Design, development and use of digital technologies have important legal and ethical aspects which cannot be ignored,” writes Mijatovic, noting that these technologies can be used as a tool of invasion of privacy and restrictions of the ability to participate in society.

So, in Russia, the authorities use street cameras with face detection function to enforce measures to quarantine. Mijatović drew attention to the lack of adequate assurance that such technologies will not be used “in a broader way and with very different goals.”

In Azerbaijan citizens are required to report their movements by sending SMS to the electronic system, allowing the police to monitor their movements. In Montenegro, the government published on its web site a list containing the names and addresses of the persons who were ordered to isolate themselves within 14 days from the date of their return from abroad to ensure that these persons do not violate regulations.

In Poland compulsory state application for smart phones requires that people quarantined, doing a selfie with a timestamp and GPS coordinates of their location several times a day. The goal is to make sure that they comply with the quarantine. Failure to comply with this order may result in a huge fine. Turkey also announced the release of a similar app for smartphones to monitor the location of individuals diagnosed with coronavirus. The system start-up tracking of patients with coronavirus also announced Apple and Google.

In Spain the personal data of people using the mobile app of the authorities of the Autonomous community of Madrid, originally was supposed to be transferred to private companies which helped to develop the app until it was improved in some of the best privacy protection. The UK newspaper The Guardian revealed that the IT company had processed the sensitive personal data of patients without ensuring proper accountability and transparency of their actions.

According to Mijatovic, the European court of human rights has previously held that restrictions on human rights and the use of personal data can be necessary in certain emergency situations. Nevertheless, the court emphasized that States may collect, use and store personal data only in exceptional and precisely defined circumstances and with adequate legal guarantees of human rights and independent supervision. Public authorities must also ensure that the actions taken based on law, are necessary to achieve the goal, and will be abolished, will disappear as soon as the reasons for their introduction.

“Governments can and must find the right balance between these two pressing needs, and to ensure that technologies work for the benefit, not against human rights, democracy and the rule of law,” stressed Mijatovic, offering for this purpose a number of steps.

So, governments should ensure that digital devices are developed and used in accordance with the norms of privacy and non-discrimination. Such devices must be anonymous, encrypted, decentralized, and their use should be voluntary, based on informed consent and limited purpose health. Users must be able at any moment to abandon their use and to remove all your personal data, and should be able to challenge the interference with their privacy through independent and effective remedies.

Laws allowing States to collect, use and store personal data should strictly comply with the right to privacy, and the actions taken by the public authorities, should be subject to independent oversight, including from the court, Parliament and national human rights institutions. Independent bodies for the protection of personal data needs to test and approve the implementation of technological devices before they will be used by the state authorities and their partners.