COVID-19: ‘In defeating the evil of coronavirus, we must not open the door to an Orwellian future of personal surveillance’ President says

“Until enough people have been vaccinated against this coronavirus, we must limit its spread. One way is to track-and-trace infected people and those whom they meet. But this has huge privacy implications and will need very careful regulation to ensure respect for human rights and the rule of law,” said PACE President Rik Daems, commenting on the development of innovative track-and-trace devices using personal mobile phones and Bluetooth-based proximity sensors.

“Fortunately, we have common European standards on this,” he continued. “The European Convention on Human Rights requires surveillance measures to have a legal basis and be necessary and proportionate to their goal. Automated data collection, processing and storage should satisfy the standards of the recently modernised Convention 108+. States must ensure that these requirements are met before track-and-trace measures are introduced, and must establish public trust in them from the outset.”

“Exceptional crises justify exceptional measures, but they must be limited to the objective in scope and time and comply with fundamental rights. In defeating one evil, we must not open the door to an Orwellian future of constant personal surveillance, following our every move for unknown and unaccountable purposes,” concluded President Daems.