A United Nations representative warned of the privacy risks associated with contact tracing in the fight against COVID-19 in a recent interview.
“The danger is that measures brought in to protect citizens in exceptional circumstances, when most people accept they are needed, could outlast the current crisis, said Joe Cannataci, the U.N. special rapporteur on the right to privacy.”
“Dictatorships and authoritarian societies often start in the face of a threat,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“That is why it is important to be vigilant today and not give away all our freedoms.”
“Surveillance and monitoring measures should be written in law and clearly limited in time” Cannataci said
“Governments should also favor voluntary tools such as phone-tracking apps requiring users’ consent over broader surveillance powers,” he said, calling on countries to set up independent bodies to oversee such measures.
“Any form of data can be misapplied in incredibly bad ways,” he said. “If you have a leader who wants to abuse the system, the system is there.”