COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Outbreak: Surveillance, censorship & privacy

Photo by camilo jimenez on Unsplash

In response to the global COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, governments worldwide are adopting a host of measures to track and monitor infections and counter disinformation. To contain the outbreak, some countries are deploying sweeping surveillance networks, personal mobile phone tracking, and Artificial Intelligence and facial recognition technologies. At the same time, governments are taking steps to tackle the rapid spread of false and misleading information which has accompanied the outbreak on social media – labelled by the World Health Organization as a  massive ‘infodemic’ – which threatens to undermine efforts to counter the outbreak. Social media companies have also taken steps to tackle false claims and direct users to accurate information.

However, there are fears that authorities may be using the threat of infection and disinformation as a pretext to disproportionately increase surveillance capacities, crack down on fundamental freedoms and justify heavy censorship that muzzles independent sources of information, in addition to legitimately harmful content.

Get RSS feed of these results

Related stories and components

Story
10 June 2020

USA: Use of AI-powered monitoring software to help stop spread of COVID-19 in jails & prisons raises privacy & bias-related concerns

Jail and prison officials in numerous facilities in the United States are using technology driven by AI to monitor inmate phone calls to help prevent and solve crimes, as well as to scan calls for mentions of the coronavirus. One such software is Verus...

See full story

Article
5 June 2020

EU: Lawyers advise employers must balance privacy laws when introducing COVID-detecting technology for worker safety

Author: Stephanie Bodoni & Natalia Drozdiak, Bloomberg News

"Tech That Saves EU Firms From Covid-19 Could Kill Them in Court," 1 June 2020...

Read more

Story
3 June 2020

NSO Group allegedly impersonated Facebook to help clients hack targets; includes company response

In May 2020, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited NSO Group to respond to allegations that it impersonated Facebook to help clients hack targets and pitched phone hacking technology to American police, as well as to an overview of past...

See full story

Article
2 June 2020
+ Français - Hide

Author: Frédéric Lemaire, Les Echos

« Covid-19 et applications de traçage : le RGPD est-il remis en question ? » 27 mai 2020...

Read more

Story
27 May 2020

Qatar: Mandatory Covid-19 tracking app raises serious privacy & security concerns, say NGOs

As part of Qatar's containment efforts to combat coronavirus, the government has rolled out a track-and-trace app, Ehteraz. The app is mandatory for download by those wishing to leave their residence; individuals who fail to do so face a severe fine of...

See full story

Article
25 May 2020

Russia: Media regulator asks Google to block article questioning COVID-19 death toll

Author: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (Czechia)

Russia's Media Regulator Asks Google To Block Article Questioning Coronavirus Death Toll, 15 May 2020...

Read more

Article
22 May 2020

Commentary: ICAR predicts rise in companies & governments silencing dissent through strategic lawsuits & COVID measures

Author: International Corporate Accountability Roundtable

"Silencing dissent — it’s easier in a COVID world," 20 May 2020...

Read more

Article
21 May 2020

Cambodia: Authorities arrest & charge another journalist & local radio station owner with incitement as media crackdown continues during COVID-19 crisis

Author: Narin Sun, VOA

"Kampong Chhnang Radio Owner Charged for “Incitement”", 15 May 2020...

Read more

Article
19 May 2020

Access Now raises privacy concerns about use of contact tracing apps & shares lessons learned

Author: Eric Null & Jennifer Brody, Brink (US)

"Are Contact-Tracing Apps the Answer? Lessons the US Can Learn From Other Countries," 11 May 2020...

Read more

Story
19 May 2020

USA: Amazon allegedly paid nearly $10 million to blacklisted Dahua Technology for thermal imaging cameras to monitor employee temperatures

See full story