Govt. use of technology to curb spread of COVID-19 must safeguard rights, says EU Fundamental Rights Agency

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Article
28 May 2020

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC IN THE EU – FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS IMPLICATIONS: WITH A FOCUS ON CONTACT-TRACING APPS

Author: European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to interrupt everyday life in the EU in unprecedented ways. The way it affects our societies is shifting...  [M]any Member States announced plans to lift some of the most restrictive measures implemented at the start of the pandemic...

This report outlines some of the measures EU Member States have put in place to protect public health during the Coronavirus pandemic. It highlights how they may affect fundamental rights...

It [...] focuses on four interrelated issues:

— states of emergency or equivalent measures;

— measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate its impact ...;

— the impact of the virus and efforts to limit its spread on particular groups in society...;

— how tracing apps and other technologies to monitor the spread of COVID-19 can impact fundamental rights, in particular data protection and privacy...

Member States explored how technology can support efforts to monitor and track the spread of COVID-19, in particular by using contact-tracing apps. The processing of personal data involved in such applications raised significant fundamental rights concerns, particularly concerning privacy and data protection... Evidence collected by FRA indicates a lack of in-depth analysis of the potential impact on other fundamental rights of using new technologies to curb the spread of the virus...

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Article
28 May 2020

Tech answers to COVID-19 should also safeguard fundamental rights

Author: European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA)

“Technology can guide governments in navigating their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic,” says FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty“However, like all solutions, governments need to take care that respect for fundamental rights forms part of our public health strategies. This includes maintaining privacy and data protection legal safeguards.”

This second Coronavirus pandemic in the EU: fundamental rights implications report looks at the measures EU Member States use to address the pandemic to highlight rights-respectful approaches that other Member States can learn from.

It underlines the need to carefully and regularly assess the impact on people’s fundamental rights as governments manage the pandemic:

1. Users’ data, their privacy, data protection and other rights: ...Governments are also rolling out the development of contact-tracing apps to curb the spread of the virus...

- Governments should ensure they implement all fundamental rights’ legal safeguards when protecting health...

2. States of emergency: ...

- Governments should carefully assess the fundamental rights impact of emergency measures when limiting and enforcing freedom of movement and assembly.

3. Daily life: All EU governments maintained physical and social distancing measures. This had a wide-ranging impact on fundamental rights, such as the rights to freedom of movement and of assembly...

- Governments should find ways to offset existing inequalities...

4. Vulnerable groups...

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