Coronavirus / Privacy and mass surveillance

Liberty responds to plans for contact-tracing surveillance tools

Posted on 24 Apr 2020

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Government has proposed using potentially intrusive surveillance tools, such as a contact-tracing app, to ease the lockdown.

Grey Collier, Advocacy Director at Liberty, said “The steps we take to tackle this pandemic must not be presented as a question of civil liberties versus public health. By presenting surveillance tools as a solution to lockdown, the Government is drawing on the willingness we have all shown to make sacrifices in the face of this crisis while refusing to show it is taking seriously the enormous risks presented by invasive technology.

“Contact-tracing technology may require us to sacrifice deeply sensitive personal information and there can be no question of State bodies or private companies sharing our personal data other than what is absolutely necessary. It is vital no-one is coerced into having the app installed, and using it as a condition for returning to work or everyday life will inevitably lead to discrimination.

“The opportunities presented by technology should be fully investigated, but seeking quick solutions in surveillance tools that rely on our personal data creates serious long-term threats to our rights and ways of life. The Government needs to focus on providing a public health response that ensures we come through this crisis with our rights intact.”

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