Commentary: Increased surveillance is not the answer to stop the spread of COVID-19 in refugee camps

Author: Petra Molnar & Diego Naranjo, The New York Times, Published on: 17 April 2020

"Surveillance won't stop the coronavirus," 15 April 2020

The answer to stopping the virus is not increased surveillance through new technology or preventing access into the camps for medical personnel. Instead, we need to redistribute resources and ensure access to health care for all people, regardless of their immigration status... As governments move toward biosurveillance to contain the spread of the pandemic, we are seeing an increase in trackingautomated drones and other types of technologies that purport to help manage migration. If previous use of technology is any indication, refugees and people crossing borders will be disproportionately targeted.

... [W]e have been tracking new tools for migration management and their human rights impacts on marginalized populations. Virus-killing robotscellphone tracking and artificially intelligent thermal cameras can all be used against refugees.

Our research has shown that technological experiments on refugees are often discriminatory, breach privacy and endanger lives. Algorithms used to power this technology are vulnerable to the same decision-making of concern to humans: discrimination, bias and error... the World Health Organization has issued a strong warning to the tech sector: Any tools developed to fight the pandemic must respect human rights.

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