Tracking the Global Response to COVID-19

Tech companies, governments, and international agencies have all announced measures to help contain the spread of the COVID-19, otherwise known as the Coronavirus.

Some of these measures impose severe restrictions on people’s freedoms, including to their privacy and other human rights. Unprecedented levels of surveillance, data exploitation, and misinformation are being tested across the world.

Many of those measures are based on extraordinary powers, only to be used temporarily in emergencies. Others use exemptions in data protection laws to share data.

Some may be effective and based on advice from epidemiologists, others will not be. But all of them must be temporary, necessary, and proportionate.

It is essential to keep track of them. When the pandemic is over, such extraordinary measures must be put to an end and held to account.

This page will be updated as measures are reported.

This is a collective project led by PI alongside its global Network. But we also need your help. If you know of an example we can add and track, please contact us with an open source link, at https://privacyinternational.org/contact.

 

24 Nov 2020
Canada has a reputation, both at home and around the world, as a beacon of tolerance when it comes to acceptance of immigrants and refugees. Part of this is due to the favourable attitudes of Canadians on the issue. Over the decade, the balance of opinion in Canada has become increasingly positive
20 Nov 2020

 

 

At least one immigration removal centre has already seen an outbreak of coronavirus, while detainees are left in limbo. People who were released from detention centres at the start of the pandemic are being quietly locked up again despite the health risks and uncertainty caused by the second wave
19 Nov 2020
The world is set to hit a record low for resettling refugees this year, the UNHCR, the refugee branch of the United Nations, has warned. Figures show only 15,425 refugees had been resettled by the end of September, compared to 63,726 for the whole of 2019. In 2016 the number was eight times higher
17 Nov 2020
Asylum seekers and trafficking victims are being forced to travel miles on public transport despite lockdown restrictions because the Home Office has said they must continue to report to officials in person. People who are awaiting a decision on their application to remain in the UK – including
14 Nov 2020
The Home Office did not discuss the decision to restart asylum evictions with local authorities, it has been revealed, despite concerns about the immediate impact on homelessness and heightened risks of coronavirus transmission. Councils were not briefed about the change in policy before it was
13 Nov 2020
NHS hospitals are wrongly sending bills for as much as “tens of thousands of pounds” to asylum seekers and refugees in Bristol - and refusing some care upfront, it is claimed. Asylum seekers and refugees are entitled to free healthcare in the UK. But there are numerous anecdotes of vulnerable
23 Oct 2020
Hundreds of wet and cold migrants were forced to spend hours in cramped containers on a “rubble-strewn building site” after arriving in the UK on small boats, a report has revealed. In a rare insight into how newly arrived asylum seekers are treated by authorities, prison inspectors visited Tug
21 Oct 2020
Foreign rough sleepers face being deported from Britain under draconian immigration laws to be introduced when the Brexit transition period ends. Under the immigration rules to be laid before parliament and due to come into force on 1 January, rough sleeping will become grounds for refusal of, or
08 Oct 2020
A gap in government guidance means that thousands of legal migrant key workers could be forced to choose between following new public health laws and destitution, according to Labour MPs and charities. They are warning that no recourse to public funds (NRPF) conditions, which apply to roughly 1.4
05 Oct 2020
In October UK health officials discovered that limitations on the number of rows on an older version of Microsoft’s spreadsheet software Excel led the system to miss 16,000 positive coronavirus tests and fail to alert an estimated 50,000 people who had been in close contact with them that they
02 Oct 2020
The Home Office moved dozens of asylum seekers involved in a Covid outbreak more than 120 miles despite an enforcement order saying they should remain in self-isolation for 14 days, the Guardian has learned. Home Office contractors have been accused of being “beyond reckless” in their handling of
30 Sep 2020
The UK Department of Health has hired the credit-checking company TransUnion to verify the names and addresses of people requesting home coronavirus tests, placing millions at risk of being barred from access to these tests. The government says the purpose is to prevent abuse of the public testing
30 Sep 2020
Migrants seeking asylum in Britain could be processed offshore under plans being developed by Priti Patel. Officials have ruled out Ascension Island and St Helena as impractical because of their distance from the UK but the Home Secretary is still seeking a third country where asylum seekers could
29 Sep 2020
The US company Hubstaff, which provides monitoring software to employers, says its UK customer base quadrupled between February and October 2020. The software tracks workers’ hours, keystrokes, mouse movements, and website visits. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development warns that
27 Sep 2020
As working from home expands, employers are ramping up surveillance using the features built into software such as Microsoft Teams and Slack, which report when employees are active, or requiring employees to attend early-morning video conferences with webcams switched on. In early 2020, PwC
19 Sep 2020
Thousands of asylum seekers currently accommodated in hotels are facing removal from the UK, the Home Office has announced. A letter from the Home Office, seen by the Independent, states that evictions of refused asylum seekers will take place “with immediate effect” and charities have reported an
15 Sep 2020
In mid-September, “human error” led Public Health Wales to post the personal data of all 18,000-odd Welsh residents who tested positive for COVID-19 between the end of February and the end of August to a public server, where for about 20 hours it was readily searchable by any visitor to the site
13 Sep 2020
Around 8,800 children have been deported from the United States along the Mexican border thanks to a new pandemic-related measure that functionally stripped the rights of those seeking asylum. Donald Trump’s administration has expelled nearly 160,000 people since the emergency order proclaimed by
12 Sep 2020
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it would end screening of inbound international passengers from a group of countries including the UK, Brazil, Iran, Ireland, and the EU Schengen countries in the third week of September. CDC said it would replace the programme with new,
10 Sep 2020
The Citizen app, which was designed to allow users to see unverified reports of crime in their neighbourhoods, is partnering with Los Angeles County for its contact tracing app, SafePass, which uses Bluetooth and GPS to track interactions with other people. Citizen has been criticised in the past
30 Aug 2020
Human rights experts have accused the home secretary, Priti Patel, of ignoring legal guidance in an attempt to target child asylum seekers who cannot prove they are under 18. A letter from the Home Office, seen by the Observer, reveals that the government is putting pressure on social workers to
25 Aug 2020
While countries like New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea publish detailed near-real-time data on local coronavirus outbreaks, the US offers very few details on how the disease is spreading due to political meddling, privacy concerns, and long-time neglect of public health surveillance systems
16 Aug 2020
All migrants arriving in the UK since June have been ordered to quarantine, but a Border Force source said that little is being done to ensure the rules are followed and some in emergency accommodation are being given vouchers to go to the shops. Thousands of British tourists returning from France
10 Aug 2020
Manchester-based VST Enterprises is developing a rapid COVID-19 testing kit intended to help restart stadium sporting events. The results of tests, which fans will take the day before the event they wish to attend and provide results within ten minutes, will be stored in VSTE’s V-Health Passport, a
10 Aug 2020
Manchester-based VST Enterprises is developing a rapid COVID-19 testing kit intended to help restart stadium sporting events. The results of tests, which fans will take the day before the event they wish to attend and provide results within ten minutes, will be stored in VSTE’s V-Health Passport, a
06 Aug 2020
Following trials in Leicester, Luton, and Blackburn with Darwen, the UK government will assign teams of health care professionals to more than ten local authorities and offer them Public Health England’s near real-time data on infections and a dedicated team of contact tracers, shifting away from
05 Aug 2020
In early August, when the UK government announced it was purchasing 90-minute saliva-based COVID-19 tests called LamPORE and 5,000 lab-free machines to process them, supplied by DNANudge, clinical researchers were dismayed to find that there is no publicly available data about the accuracy or
05 Aug 2020
In early August, when the UK government announced it was purchasing 90-minute saliva-based COVID-19 tests called LamPORE and 5,000 lab-free machines to process them, supplied by DNANudge, clinical researchers were dismayed to find that there is no publicly available data about the accuracy or
02 Aug 2020
The French data protection authority, CNIL, has examined the French contact tracing app and ruled that it is not fully compliant with the provisions of GDPR and the French data protection law. CNIL’s primary complaint was that the app transferred the news that a user had been infected to all their
01 Aug 2020
Professional sports teams are considering adopting facial recognition admissions systems to make stadiums as touchless for fans as possible as part of efforts to provide a safe environment during the pandemic. Both the Los Angeles Football Club and the New York Mets are trying the Clear app, made by
01 Aug 2020
Professional sports teams are considering adopting facial recognition admissions systems to make stadiums as touchless for fans as possible as part of efforts to provide a safe environment during the pandemic. Both the Los Angeles Football Club and the New York Mets are trying the Clear app, made by
30 Jul 2020
As part of efforts to make returning to campus safer, US universities are considering or implementing mandates requiring students to install exposure notification apps, quarantine enforcement programs, and other unproven new technologies, risking exacerbating existing inequalities in access to both
30 Jul 2020
As part of efforts to make returning to campus safer, US universities are considering or implementing mandates requiring students to install exposure notification apps, quarantine enforcement programs, and other unproven new technologies, risking exacerbating existing inequalities in access to both
29 Jul 2020
Questions have been raised about an irregular process by which the Trump administration awarded a $10.2 million dollar six-month contract to Pittsburgh-based TeleTracking Technologies. TeleTracking has traditionally sold software to help hospitals track patient status; under the new contract it is
29 Jul 2020
Individuals accept giving more information in emergencies, and the tradeoffs between providing emergency help and privacy must be carefully considered. A study of popular disaster apps finds that many apps ignore privacy policies and government agency policies. Twelve of the 14 apps studied capture
29 Jul 2020
Questions have been raised about an irregular process by which the Trump administration awarded a $10.2 million dollar six-month contract to Pittsburgh-based TeleTracking Technologies. TeleTracking has traditionally sold software to help hospitals track patient status; under the new contract it is
28 Jul 2020
A growing number of companies - for example, San Mateo start-up Camio and AI startup Actuate, which uses machine learning to identify objects and events in surveillance footage - are repositioning themselves as providers of AI software that can track workplace compliance with covid safety rules such
28 Jul 2020
A growing number of companies - for example, San Mateo start-up Camio and AI startup Actuate, which uses machine learning to identify objects and events in surveillance footage - are repositioning themselves as providers of AI software that can track workplace compliance with covid safety rules such
27 Jul 2020
A preliminary study finds that facial recognition algorithms struggle to identify people wearing masks. The study tested 89 commercial facial recognition algorithms, and the best had error rates between 5% and 50% in matching unmasked photos with photos of the same person wearing a digitally-applied
27 Jul 2020
A preliminary study finds that facial recognition algorithms struggle to identify people wearing masks. The study tested 89 commercial facial recognition algorithms, and the best had error rates between 5% and 50% in matching unmasked photos with photos of the same person wearing a digitally-applied
22 Jul 2020
By mid-July, the UK’s contact tracing system was still failing to contact thousands of people in areas with England’s highest infection rates. In London, with the sixth-highest infection rate in England, only 47% of at-risk people were contacted; in partially locked-down Leicester, the rate was 65%
22 Jul 2020
Analysis of untreated wastewater from the county health department in Yosemite Valley led Biobot Analytics, based in Cambridge, MA, to estimate that 170 people in Yosemite national park during the July 4 weekend may have been infected with the coronavirus, dropping to 60 during the following week
22 Jul 2020
By mid-July, the UK’s contact tracing system was still failing to contact thousands of people in areas with England’s highest infection rates. In London, with the sixth-highest infection rate in England, only 47% of at-risk people were contacted; in partially locked-down Leicester, the rate was 65%
21 Jul 2020
The algorithm and mathematical model used to predict students’ grades by the International Baccalaureate programme, which was forced to cancel exams because of the pandemic, incorporated three elements: coursework, teachers’ predictions of their students’ exam grades, and “school context”, which was
21 Jul 2020
The algorithm and mathematical model used to predict students’ grades by the International Baccalaureate programme, which was forced to cancel exams because of the pandemic, incorporated three elements: coursework, teachers’ predictions of their students’ exam grades, and “school context”, which was
20 Jul 2020
More than 725,000 people downloaded Ireland’s COVID-19 tracker and contact tracing app, Covid Green, within 24 hours of its launch, according to the Health and Safety Executive. Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly stressed that the app, which was developed by the Waterford company Nearform, was not
20 Jul 2020
In early July the Open Rights Group issued a pre-action legal letter to UK health secretary Matt Hancock and the Department of Health and Social Care saying they have breached requirements under the Data Protection Act 2018 and GDPR by failing to conduct an impact assessment for the Test and Trace
19 Jul 2020
Under a new $10 million-plus contract, in July the US Department of Health and Human Services began sending hospital statistics such as bed availability, patient numbers, and ventilators to the Pittsburgh company TeleTracking Technologies for analysis with no guarantee the information would be made
18 Jul 2020
Several people have been arrested in Bangladesh for issuing bogus documentation to people who have not been tested for the coronavirus showing they are not infected. Such documents are required for migrant workers, who need to show that they are virus-free when they arrive at their overseas
16 Jul 2020
US epidemiologists are complaining that secrecy is interfering with public health efforts to curb the coronavirus. Beginning in April, California state and county health authorities have refused requests from scientists from Stanford University and several University of California campuses for
15 Jul 2020
Human Rights Watch reports that drug cartels and rebel groups are imposing their own lockdowns in rural areas of Colombia and using WhatsApp chats and pamphlets to advise local residents of curfew hours, transport shutdowns, and other bans that are far more strict than those imposed by the
15 Jul 2020
In advice issued to corporates, Deloitte considers the options for protecting workforces and suggests that immunity tests are available as a tool in any of three possible scenarios: the government ordered testing; the company adopts testing as a strategic initiative; employees take private action
15 Jul 2020
The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement service announced in July that the State Department will not issue visas to students whose universities shift to online-only learning and they must leave the country or face deportation. More than 1 million higher education students in the US come from
15 Jul 2020
Egyptian doctors are reporting that they are being threatened for speaking and posting publicly about working conditions as they struggle in a medical system overwhelmed by the coronavirus. At least seven members of the Egyptian Medical Syndicate, a quasi-governmental body that represents health
11 Jul 2020
Soon after the UK began reopening pubs with the requirement that staff retain customer details in case they are needed later for contact tracing, a woman reported on Twitter that the next day the bartender messaged her on Facebook. The story was picked up by Refinery29 and the Independent, but taken
10 Jul 2020
In order to reopen borders and restart travel and trade, the East African Community is working with Switzerland-based The Commons Project, a public trust that builds digital services for public good in order to develop an app called CommonPass. The app, which will be designed in a July sprint, will
10 Jul 2020
Brazil’s Federal Supreme Court has struck down a government order forcing telecommunications companies to provide access to the user information relating to the country’s 200 million citizens to enable the government to conduct phone interviews to determine the economic response to the COVID-19
10 Jul 2020
By late June, two months after its launch, Australia’s A$1.5 million CovidSafe app had failed to help authorities identify even a single contact of a confirmed case. In the states of Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, and Tasmania the app had not picked up any contacts that had not already
10 Jul 2020
In July 2020 a public-private partnership programme between the Bill Gates-backed GAVI vaccine alliance, Mastercard, and the AI identity authentication company Trust Stamp was ready to introduce a biometric identity platform in low-income remote communities in West Africa. The programme will
10 Jul 2020
Hundreds of trucks carrying goods and humanitarian aid from Cameroon’s Douala sea port to Central African Republic are stranded at the border because testing kits are in short supply; under an agreement, Cameroon drivers who test negative are supposed to be granted access. Results of tests completed
10 Jul 2020
Britain’s Cabinet Office awarded an £840,000 contract for researching public opinion about government policies, portions of which involved conducting focus groups related to Brexit rather than COVID-19, to Public First, a company owned by two long-term associates of Minister for the Cabinet Office
08 Jul 2020
Israel’s initial success in curbing the spread of the coronavirus in April was followed in June by a surge in cases that government advisers blamed on insufficient resources for ministries to implement an effective trace-and-trace programme and increase testing to the level that would show clearly
08 Jul 2020
In London, during the UK’s coronavirus lockdown, young black men were stopped and searched by police 21,950 times with no further action taken in 80% of cases. If each individual were searched only once - which may not be the case - that would equate to 30% of all young black males in London. The
08 Jul 2020
Governments in Norway, Britain, Qatar, and India, among others, have had to either drop or remediate the contact tracing apps they’ve released to help combat the coronavirus due to the rush in which they were released. Many had security flaws that risked exposing user data; others pose privacy and
07 Jul 2020
The Finnish government will not move forward with its plan to oblige unsuccessful asylum seekers to wear ankle monitors, Maria Ohisalo, the Minister of the Interior, stated on Tuesday. “It’s something that’d be difficult to carry out as it’s considered in the government programme,” she said. “The
07 Jul 2020
The New Zealand MP Hamish Walker, a member of the centre-right opposition National party, admitted leaking the details of all the country’s 18 active COVID-19 cases to the media in order to “expose the government’s shortcoming”. Walker said he had been advised that his actions were not illegal. The
07 Jul 2020
The UK had unrealistic expectations for antibody testing; as early as April health secretary Matt Hancock was suggesting that antibody testing could form the basis for immunity passports even though it is still uncertain whether and for how long SARS-CoV-2 confers immunity to further infection
06 Jul 2020
Domestic abuse campaigners and victims have accused the government of not valuing the lives of migrant women in forthcoming legislation on the issue.They are urging the government to make “life-saving” changes to the domestic abuse bill, which will be debated for its final stage in parliament on
06 Jul 2020

 

 

 

Greece has extended a coronavirus lockdown on its migrant camps for the fifth time. The move has prompted accusations that the government is using the pandemic to limit the migrants' movement. The Greek Migration Ministry announced on Saturday that the country's migrant camps would remain under
05 Jul 2020
New US federal data released by the CDC in response to freedom of information requests show striking racial and ethnic disparities in all parts of the country in who gets infected and hospitalised with coronavirus. A survey of 640,000 infections in nearly 1,000 US counties found that Latino and
04 Jul 2020
The Santiago Court of Appeals has ruled that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs cannot require migrants to sign a declaration saying they agree to not return to Chile for nine years. The government is now going forward with an appeal stating that this ruling contraditcs a 2018 resolution, says the
03 Jul 2020
The Dutch data protection authority, Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens, is recommending against a bill working its way through the parliament that would force telecoms operators to collect more data on their customers and share it with Statistics Netherlands as part of the country’s pandemic response. The
02 Jul 2020
Even before anything like an official immunity passport has become available, users of online dating sites are finding that some prospective dates are pushing for in-person meetups by claiming that either they’ve tested negative for the coronavirus or have positive antibody tests showing that they
01 Jul 2020
Knowledge Ecology International has received copies of a number of contracts it requested under the US Freedom of Information Act that were signed in 2020 by the US Department of Defense or the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to cover research on COVID-19 vaccines or
01 Jul 2020
A group of Democratic US Senators and Congressional Representatives have written to Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar asking for more transparency around the HHS Protect Now programme, which collects vast amounts of data, including coronavirus test results, from the CDC and state and
30 Jun 2020
Up to 30 charities and organisations have written to home secretary Priti Patel calling for a number of amendments on Tuesday - a year exactly until the scheme ends. Under current arrangements, EU citizens have been told to apply by June if they wish to continue living and working in Britain.The
30 Jun 2020
After ORG asked questions via its legal representative, AWO’s Ravi Naik, the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care agreed to change the period it would retain Test and Trace data from 20 years to eight. Public Health England manager Yvonne Doyle explained that the novelty of COVID-19 was the
30 Jun 2020
The findings of Freedom from Torture’s report, based on reviews of transcripts of asylum interviews carried out by the Home Office in 2017 or 2018 and a series of focus groups and interviews involving 25 torture survivors who had attended asylum interviews, shows they were often prevented from
30 Jun 2020
On June 24, Israeli ministers reversed a previous decision and unanimously decided to support controversial legislation allowing the Israeli security service Shin Bet to track civilians’ phones to help curb the spread of the coronavirus after a new spike in infections. On June 30 the Knesset Foreign
30 Jun 2020
The Israeli company Kando is monitoring coronavirus traces in the sewers of the city of Ashkelon via sensors, autosamplers, and controllers placed under manholes in an attempt to build an early warning system of clusters of COVID-19. The system was originally developed to spot industrial waste
29 Jun 2020
The Israeli digital ID card creator Pangea EVP has developed an immunity passport intended to give individuals access to public spaces, including airports. The passport will include a photo of the holder, a digital signature, a hologram, and a chip. When they want to fly, holders will insert flight
29 Jun 2020
The UK Government outsourced some of the testing centre work to Deloitte. The contract states that Deloit does not have to share data of positive cases with the UK health authority Public Health England nor to local government authorities. This prevented data sharing that was arguably essential to
29 Jun 2020
The pandemic has exacerbated the effects of the “hostile environment” on the UK’s undocumented migrants, many of whom have lost income, are working in unsafe and exploitative conditions, are scared to seek help even though the government has promised there will be no charging or immigration checks
28 Jun 2020
After predicting that the incoming COVID-19 caseload would exceed an “unsustainable surge capacity” of ICU beds by July 6, for several days in late June Texas Medical Center hospitals stopped updating key metrics. The gap followed complaints by Texas governor Greg Abbott about negative headlines
28 Jun 2020
The UK government refused to abolish a coronavirus law even though it was used unlawfully in every one of the more than 50 cases that were prosecuted under it. Among those wrongly prosecuted were a woman who was fined £660 for a crime she hadn’t committed. Schedule 21 of the Coronavirus Act gives
27 Jun 2020
More than 2,500 foreign Muslims from 35 countries travelled to India to attend a mid-March gathering held with government permission at the Tablighi Jamaat headquarters in Delhi in mid-March. A day later the government issued a notice limiting events in Delhi to 50 people and a week later grounded
26 Jun 2020
TrustNet Pakistan, the country’s only digital trust foundation, has begun work alongside many other global technology companies on a digital vaccination verification platform called CovidCreds. The initiative supports projects that use privacy-preserving verifiable credentials. TrustNet is working
26 Jun 2020
Germany’s “Corona-Warn” contact tracing app amassed 6.5 million users (7.8% of the German population) in the first 24 hours after its June 16 launch despite setbacks that included disputes over data privacy and functionality. The app was developed in six weeks by a team of developers and engineers
26 Jun 2020
After analysing spending by 30 million US Chase credit and debit cardholders in conjunction with coronavirus case data from Johns Hopkins University, JP Morgan found that the level of card-present spending in restaurants can predict where the virus will spread a few weeks later. The study also found
25 Jun 2020
A study of 17 Android mobile contact tracing apps from 17 different countries found that most government-sponsored contact tracing apps are insecure and risk exposing users’ privacy and data. The researchers used the presence or absence of six basic hardening techniques: name obfuscation (just one
25 Jun 2020
Between June 25 and July 6 India said officials would visit every household in New Delhi’s entire population of 29 million to record each resident’s health details and administer a COVID-19 test. In the meantime, police, along with surveillance cameras and drone monitoring, will enforce physical
25 Jun 2020
The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network finds that the number of Serbians newly infected by the coronavirus in the week leading up to the June 21 parliamentary election was several times higher than the officially announced figure, and suggests that the numbers were concealed so that as many
25 Jun 2020
Germany’s contact tracing system is thought to have been critical in controlling the COVID-19 outbreak, especially given superspreader events such as infections in meat packing plants. Each of Germany’s 16 federal states is responsible for health, and together with the national Robert Koch Institute
24 Jun 2020
In a planned study, NIST will apply synthetic masks to faces digitally in order to leverage its large datasets (18 million images of 8 million people) in order to test how well verification algorithms handle masks. The study will reopen on June 24, 2020. https://www.nist.gov/programs-projects/face
24 Jun 2020
The UN’s Economic Commission for Africa has launched the Africa Communication and Information Platform for Health and Economic Action thta will use AI and big data to provide two-way communication between citizens and health authorities. It will launch in 36 countries, with more to come as others
24 Jun 2020
The October 2019 Presidential Decree 98/2019 granted the Hellenic Police the option of using drones in policing and border management for broad purposes; previously they were limited to using them for purposes such as preventing forest fires or helping rescue people after a natural disaster or an
24 Jun 2020
Lovelace Women’s Hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the only medical institution in the state dedicated to women’s health, operated a secret policy of separating First Nation mothers, whom they identified either by appearance or by residence in a particular zip code, from their newborn babies as a
24 Jun 2020
The UK government has instructed bars, restaurants, hairdressers, and churches to record visitors’ contact details when they begin to reopen on July 4 so they can be contacted later if necessary for contact tracing and testing. However, the industry was given no guidance on how to take care of the
23 Jun 2020
Los Angeles Airport (LAX) has begun the first of two six-week voluntary trials in which travellers walk past fever-detecting cameras before reaching security. Those who show a temperature above 100.4F will be taken aside for secondary screening. During the pilot no one will be stopped from
23 Jun 2020
By the end of its first three weeks of availability, the French contact tracing app, “StopCovid”, had seen 1.9 million downloads. Of these, only 68 people had entered a positive COVID-19 test result, and only 14 were notified that they might have been exposed, according to the French junior minister
23 Jun 2020
In June, a health law researcher at the University of Indonesia suggested that the government could create its own version of the international vaccination certificate issued by the WHO for those who were vaccinated against the coronavirus, when a vaccine becomes available. Comparing it to
22 Jun 2020
The work and pensions committee has said that the immigration rules that have left 1 million migrant workers in the UK at risk of destitution because they cannot claim universal credit should be suspended. The “no recourse to public funds rule” has left many foreign nationals facing a choice of stay
22 Jun 2020
Immigration rules that have left 1 million migrant workers in the UK at risk of destitution because they cannot claim universal credit should be suspended on public health grounds during the pandemic, a cross-party group of MPs has recommended. The work and pensions select committee said the no
21 Jun 2020
Testing for All is helping small employers and individuals access antibody tests by making them available at £42 each out of fear that “testing inequality” could fuel greater financial inequality, as private schools and big businesses have introduced testing to allow pupils and employees to return
21 Jun 2020
New York City’s contact tracing system got off to a shaky start; in its first two weeks only 35% of the 5,347 residents who tested or were presumed positive for the coronavirus gave information about close contacts to tracers, rising slightly to 42% in the third week. Encouragingly, however, almost
21 Jun 2020
Although the Home Office does not record ethnicity data for detainees, analysis of nationalities of those recently held within the immigration detention estate found that citizens from countries with predominantly black and brown populations are held for substantially longer periods than those from
20 Jun 2020
Beginning in March 2020, Turkish authorities targeted doctors in senior positions in “medical chambers” professional bodies in Van, Mardin, and Sanhurfa for allegedly “issuing threats to create fear and panic among the public” in media interviews and social media postings in which they discussed the
20 Jun 2020
Corruption scandals have added to Latin America’s challenges in dealing with the coronavirus. In Ecuador, prosecutors identified a criminal ring that colluded with health officials to sell body bags to hospitals at 13 times the normal price, and many others are accused of price-gouging for other
19 Jun 2020
A new requirement to wear wear masks in public in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus poses a problem in France and Belgium, where laws prohibit wearing face coverings, with health as the only allowed exception. In France, where the law was passed in 2010, between 2011 and 2017 1,830 Muslim
18 Jun 2020
Based on a recommendation by union home minister Amit Shah, in mid-June the Delhi government directed hospitals to issue covid-free certificates to patients when discharging them on the basis that they would help reduce the stigma around the disease and allow those who have recovered to go back to
18 Jun 2020
In the second week of operation of the UK’s contact tracing system a quarter of people who tested positive for COVID-19 could not be reached because they had not supplied phone numbers or email addresses. Of the close contacts whose details were provided, contact tracers reached 90.6% to advise them
18 Jun 2020
After some employers were caught asking for such information, in mid-June 2020 the Spanish data protection authority warned that it is a violation of data protection laws to screen job candidates based on whether they have had and recovered from COVID-19 and developed antibodies. This type of
18 Jun 2020
France has been testing AI tools with security cameras supplied by the French technology company Datakalab in the Paris Metro system and buses in Cannes to detect the percentage of passengers who are wearing face masks. The system does not store or disseminate images and is intended to help
18 Jun 2020
In a policy briefing, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics concludes that there is too much scientific uncertainty and too many ethical issues for to support immunity certification as a way of easing restrictions on travel, work, and other activities. While testing can be useful, the negative impacts
17 Jun 2020
By the end of March 2021 Eurostar will roll out a facial verification system in which passengers will send a scan of their passport and a selfie so that when boarding they can prove their identity by walking through a camera-lined “biometric” corridor instead of presenting their documents. The
17 Jun 2020
Thousands of Muscovites ordered to download a hastily-developed app to enforce their quarantine report that they have been wrongly geolocated and fined and that the app has trapped them into compliance criteria that are impossible to meet. The app, which demands an exceptionally broad range of
17 Jun 2020
In a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, United Airlines has disclosed that it has agreed to transfer the ownership of its frequent flyer program and associated data to a subsidiary company and pledge the data as collateral to secure a $5 billion loan from a consortium of US banks
16 Jun 2020
The US National Basketball Association’s plan to restart its season includes isolating players and other personnel at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida with a plan for frequent testing, quarantine protocols, and bracelets that beep if people come within six feet for too long. In addition, the
16 Jun 2020
South America has become the scene of one of the worst humanitarian crises in recent times. The crisis involving migrants and refugees from Venezuela involves children, adolescents, and young people who have left their country of origin to settle in surrounding countries, either due to political or
16 Jun 2020
The Israeli smart digital ID card and border control software company Pangea hopes its new biometric smart card could help airports reopen. The company claims governments, many of which are working on defining the medical tests and processes required for eligibility, can use the card to verify that
15 Jun 2020
US state and local authorities are using data from a host of location tracking companies, some of them little-known, such as X-Mode Social, Foursquare Labs, Cuebiq, Unacast, Phunware, and SafeGraph, to help them decide how and when to reopen. Many of these companies are part of the adtech industry
15 Jun 2020
On June 15 by presidential decree Chile extended its state of catastrophe, in place since mid-March, by 90 days and the pace of new infections continued to increase and the authorities declared a full lockdown in Santiago, where quarantine is routinely enforced by soldiers. The government intends to
15 Jun 2020
After the data protection authority ruled that Norway’s Smittestopp app disproportionately intruded on users’ privacy by collecting location data without demonstrating it was strictly necessary and by failing to allow users to separately grant permission for contact tracing and for using the data
15 Jun 2020
Nepal will deport five foreign tourists and ban them from re-entering the country for two years after they joined protests demanding better quarantine facilities, more testing, and transparency in procuring medical supplies. Four tourists - three from China and one from the US - were arrested and
15 Jun 2020
Seventeen of 93 UK prosecutions for breaches of emergency coronavirus laws in May were incorrect or for offences that did not exist. All but one of the 17 were stopped at the first court appearance. In total, nine prosecutions were brought under the Coronavirus Act; all were dismissed because there
13 Jun 2020
The UK government spent two months touting its contact tracing app as the prospective basis for returning to something close to normality. As the June 1 target date approached, however, the government increasingly downplayed its importance. In the meantime, Apple and Google’s API were adopted by
12 Jun 2020
The officials managing Florida’s 100-plus coronavirus test sites have asked the 1.3 million people tested so far for for names, social security numbers, dates of birth, and insurance information. Nearly 1,000 private labs process these tests, and dozens of contractor organisations collect swabs and
11 Jun 2020
Nearly six months after the emergence of the coronavirus, only 7.1% of research on COVID-19 references AI compared to 12% of research on other topics. AI is being used to make predictive analyses of patient data, especially medical scans, and analyse social media data, predict the spread of the
11 Jun 2020
A detailed analysis of Pakistan’s app, which was developed by the Ministry of IT and Telecom and the National Information Technology Board and which offers dashboards for each province and state, self-assessment tools, and popup hygiene reminders, finds a number of security issues. Among them: the
10 Jun 2020
Turkish authorities are investigating several senior doctors who lead “medical chambers” - professional bodies - in Van, Mardin, and Sanhurfa and have been accused since March 2020 of “issuing threats to create fear and panic among the public” in media interviews and social media posts relating to
10 Jun 2020
Even though the scientific jury is still out on whether and how long post-COVID-19 immunity will last, proof of having recovered from the illness is an asset in renting out an apartment on Airbnb, US companies are beginning to develop an immunity passport for hotels, and the Chilean government is
09 Jun 2020
Data-driven companies like Experian, CACI, and Xantura are pitching their services to help UK local officials to identify people in need. Xantura and CIPFA, the accountancy body for the public sector, have teamed up to deploy a £15,000 tool that uses local authority data including the NHS’s
09 Jun 2020
As the mounting infection numbers and deaths took Brazil to second-worst affected in the world, the country took down the website on which it had been publishing daily, weekly, and monthly figures non infections and deaths in Braziliant states. A newspaper that supports president Jair Bolsonaro
09 Jun 2020
Brazilian supreme court judge Alexandre de Moraes ordered Jair Bolsonaro’s administration to resume publishing complete COVID-19 statistics. The government had purged the health ministry website of historical pandemic-related data and said it would stop publishing the cumulative death toll and
09 Jun 2020
The lives of residents in French and Scottish nursing homes have been put in danger by the homes’ use of Dahua and Hikvision fever scanning cameras. The homes are violating ISO standards for such cameras: they have been incorrectly installed in front of large windowed doors, the staff are not given
09 Jun 2020
Speaking at COGx, the Tony Blair Institute said the UK should bring in digital health passports to let people travel if they are free of coronavirus. When he was in government, former UK prime minister Tony Blair, who founded the Institute, sought to bring in ID cards; they were scrapped in 2010
09 Jun 2020

On May 29, Russian state media reported that the authorities are considering introducing an app that migrant workers would have to download when they enter the country, once the borders re-open after the COVID-19 lockdown. Little is known about the proposal. But the few details that have been leaked to the media, coupled with Russia’s longstanding record of racial profiling, other racism against migrants, and recent developments in the “surveillance state” are grounds for serious alarm.

 

Writer: Damelya Aitkhozhina

Source: Human Rights Watch

09 Jun 2020
Russian authorities are considering introducing an app that migrant workers will be required to download when they enter the country. Leaked details indicate that the app would contain detailed biometric data, health status, police records, and a “social trustworthiness” rating. It’s unclear whether
08 Jun 2020
An Israeli government panel tasked with managing the coronavirus crisis green-lighted a bill that would write into law the government’s authority to impose emergency regulations and froze a bill that would allow the Shin Bet security agency to track confirmed and suspected coronavirus patients. The
08 Jun 2020
It's been two months since the launch of "Perú en us manos", the mobile app promoted by the Peruvian government amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Until now the app did not accomplish the ambitious goals it set out to. On its first month the app had detected 1400 risk zones while there where already 36
05 Jun 2020
Kenya’s Independent Policing Oversight Body reports that it received 87 complaints covering 31 incidents in which injuries were linked to the actions of police officers and 15 deaths between curfew’s imposition on March 27 and June 5. In April, Human Rights Watch accused the police of brutality in
05 Jun 2020
After problems with its TraceTogether contact tracing app, Singapore is planning a comprehensive contact tracing system in which it will distribute to all its 5.7 million residents a wearable device that will identify people who have interacted with people carrying the coronavirus. The devices can
05 Jun 2020
Estonia has begun testing its Immuunsuspass app, which was developed for the Back to Work NGO by the Estonian technology firms Transferwise and Guardtime working with health specialists. The app, which is intended to help schools and employers make decisions, will have to pass scientific consensus
05 Jun 2020
Hours before OpenDemocracy filed suit to compel the UK government to release all the contracts governing its deals with a list of technology firms including Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Palantir, and Faculty, the UK government released the contracts. Faculty is being paid more than £1 million to
05 Jun 2020
UK police reported to be planning separate contact tracing system Police forces in the UK are planning their own contact tracing system because they are concerned that giving details to the national contact tracing system would compromise undercover operations and working methods. Options under
05 Jun 2020
The Canary Islands sought to become the first destination for a coronavirus-free flight as part of a digital health passport pilot project backed by the World Health Organisation. Via the Hi+Card secure health mobile app that certifies they do not have COVID-19, each passenger will have a unique
04 Jun 2020
In the three months from March to May 2020 the UK government awarded at least £1.7 billion in contracts to private companies, most of them without a competitive tender process under emergency procurement measures put in place in March. A quarter of the 400 contracts that government departments have
04 Jun 2020
Gypsy and Traveller communities in England, especially those living on canals and waterways or in unauthorised roadside encampments, have had no access to sanitation, refuse collection, or water for drinking, cooking, showering, and washing clothes during the coronavirus lockdown. Some local
03 Jun 2020
The lack of data protection laws and the absence of a privacy commission are contributing factors to Pakistan’s failure to investigate or remedy security flaws in the country’s recently-launched COVID-19 tracking technology, which partially depends on a system originally developed to combat
02 Jun 2020
The AI firm Faculty, which worked on the Vote Leave campaign, was given a £400,000 UK government contract to analyse social media data, utility bills, and credit ratings, as well as government data, to help in the fight against the coronavirus. This is at least the ninth contract awarded to Faculty
02 Jun 2020
A mix of city data and reports from building superintendents and porters provides evidence on how New York City’s residents’ behaviour has changed during the lockdown. Among the findings so far: residents are recycling 27% more, particularly clear glass, and total garbage collected has dropped
02 Jun 2020
While the agency that manages residence permits, the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories, is closed, Israel has instructed Palestinians seeking to verify whether their permits to remain in Israel are still valid to download the app Al Munasiq, which grants the military access to
01 Jun 2020
Italy has launched Immuni, one of the first contact tracing apps based on the Apple-Google API. The app is opt-in, and includes an explanation of the privacy and security measures in its setup. The app collects anonymously bluetooth tokens that are automatically randomised, but does not collect GPS
01 Jun 2020
Concerns that contact tracing could expand to purposes beyond public health gained some weight when the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington told press that law enforcement was using “contact tracing” to investigate protesters arrested after the murder of George Floyd
01 Jun 2020
While acknowledging the WHO’s advice that retaining antibodies to the coronavirus after recovering from COVID-19 is not yet scientifically confirmed to confer immunity, the International Air Transport Association believes that immunity passports could be important in helping air travel resume
01 Jun 2020
Between March 29 and May 28, residents of Nashville, Tennessee submitted 3,748 reports of potential violations of the Safe at Home order, including locations such as restaurants, parks, churches, and funeral homes, and violations such as promoting live music while it was prohibited, or failing to
01 Jun 2020
Thermal temperature scanners, software keystroke monitors, and wearable location trackers are proliferating in US workplaces, with the data they collect outside of any of the country's electronic privacy laws. Companies report that employers are being asked to form part of the front line of contact
01 Jun 2020
The Delaware County of New Castle is participating in a pro-bono programme run by the Cambridge, Massachusetts start-up Biobot Analytics, which analyses sewage for the coronavirus in order to estimate the number of people infected in a particular area, hoping to use the results to make better health
29 May 2020
The UK's NHSx contact tracing initiative requires anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 to provide the full name, postcode/house number, phone number, and email of anyone they've been in contact with, and Public Health England will keep the data for 20 years. The privacy notice was quickly updated
29 May 2020
In late May, shortly before Italian domestic travel was set to reopen, Stefano Bonaccini, the governor of Emilia-Romagna, called Sardinia’s proposed health passports “unmanageable”, although Sicily and some other southern regions popular among tourists were also in favour of using them to ensure
28 May 2020
Lithuania’s data protection authority has suspended the country’s COVID-19 contact tracing app for failing to comply with GDPR’s principle of accountability at the Lithuanian health ministry, which is the relevant data controller. It investigated the app in response to media coverage and public
News & Analysis

We, alongside 6 other organisations, have sent a letter to the government asking them to reconsider the design of the UK NHSx Covid-19 track and trace app.

We are seriously concerned that the app will create exlusion and enhance existing discrimination, gather incomplete data, and won't be as effective as it could be in tackling this virus.

28 May 2020
The Chinese city of Hangzhou is considering making the app it requires residents to download and install for the COVID-19 crisis and that controls whether and where residents may travel a permanent fixture to create a "firewall to enhance people's health and immunity". Other countries may follow
27 May 2020
An Ipsos MORI survey conducted on May 20-22 found generally high levels of compliance with lockdown restrictions, though many were suffering. While roughly three-quarters were confident they could download and operate a contact tracing app and would be willing to comply with its recommendations
27 May 2020
Police have ordered protests in Hong Kong to stop, citing social distancing rules. The renewed protests are to oppose the Chinese plan to write a new national security law for Hong Kong, as well as a separate plan by Hong Kong officials to criminalise disrespect for the Chinese national anthem. Many
27 May 2020
The lower house of the French parliament paved the way for the launch of the government's independently-developed contact tracing app. The minister in charge, technology minister Cedric O, praised the app, developed by companies such as Orange and Dassault Systemes, as a French project "with the
27 May 2020
Immunity passports, under consideration in a number of countries, may violate US disability law, enable discrimination, and create a two-tiered exclusionary society. They are not really comparable to vaccination cards for diseases such as yellow fever or meningitis, which are required for entry into
26 May 2020
South Korea's second spike in coronavirus cases was curbed via a contact tracing regime that uses credit card records, mobile phone tracking, and GPS location data in order to track the previous movements of infected individuals working alongside efficient diagnostic testing. Successfully tracing an
26 May 2020
China is adding new features to its coronavirus surveillance app, which has helped many workers and employers return to their former lives, and looks likely to become a permanent fixture. Zhou Jiangyong, the Communist Party secretary of the eastern city of Hangzhou, has said the city's app, which it
26 May 2020
Black, Asian, and minority ethnic people in England are 54% more likely than white people to be fined for violations of the coronavirus rules, according to an analysis of data published by the National Police Chiefs' Council showing the racial breakdown of the 13,445 fixed-penalty notices recorded
26 May 2020
NHS Digital has added facial recognition to its app, which allows people to order prescriptions, book appointments, and find health care data, in hopes it will also be usable as an "immunity passport" once at-home testing becomes available. The NHS facial recognition system was built by iProov, and
25 May 2020
Numerous companies are repurposing their body monitors, asset trackers, and electronic ankle monitors and marketing them to the newly-created market for strap-on surveillance bracelets to enforce quarantine and social distancing including companies such as AiRISTA Flow. Redpoint Positioning
25 May 2020
Local health authorities in Germany have relied on human contact tracers since the country confirmed its first COVID-19 cases early in 2020, and say that doing so has helped the country keep its death rate comparatively low even with a less restrictive lockdown than many other countries. Germany
25 May 2020
As part of a survey of the human rights compliance of contact tracing apps Amnesty International's Security Lab discovered that security vulnerabilities in Qatar's mandatory contact tracing app, EHTERAZ, would have allowed attackers to access the personal information, including name, national ID
25 May 2020
Anger spread across Chinese social media after officials in the eastern city of Hangzhou suggested they would create a permanent version of its smartphone-based health rating app, developed with help from Alibaba, to curb coronavirus spread. Shortly before, Baidu’s chief executive proposed new rules
25 May 2020
EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides told health ministers in late May that they could not count on immunity certification when lifting cross-border travel restrictions within the EU. Prevention measures such as physical distancing, robust testing strategies, and ensuring health care capacity
25 May 2020
Latvia became one of the first countries to use Apple's and Google's new joint toolkit to launch a smartphone contact tracing app, Apturi Covid. For now, the app will only work for Latvia's 2 million citizens, but the intention is that it should interoperate with the apps other countries to aid
23 May 2020
The best contact tracers in US history were a group of mid-20th century venereal disease investigators working for a programme at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention whose strategy eventually led to the eradication of smallpox in the 1970s. Talking to infected people and tracking down
23 May 2020
Contact tracing apps will only work effectively if people trust them and install them in sufficient numbers. Soon after its launch, however, the North Dakota contact tracing app people were already dropping it after posting complaints in the Google App store. In a survey of 798 Americans
22 May 2020
Following a similar effort in the Netherlands, the UK is planning a national research programme in collaboration with universities, water companies, and public research bodies to detect coronavirus in sewage for use as an early warning system for future outbreaks of COVID-19. About half of those
22 May 2020
Excluded groups such as sex workers and asylum seekers are being left behind in the UK’s COVID-19 response as control measures amplify existing health inequalities and put life-saving advice and care further out of reach. The closure of services and some GP registrations, a lack of access to
21 May 2020
Technical flaws in Moscow's app, intended to track people with COVID-19 and symptoms of other respiratory diseases, led the authorities to wrongly fine hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of people, alleging they had breached self-quarantine. The app was originally launched at the end of March, but
21 May 2020

In an analysis, the smartphone privacy company Jumbo Privacy finds that Care19, North Dakota's official COVID-19 contact tracing app, sends latitude and longitude data and a unique user advertising identifier to Foursquare and other data to Google servers and the bug-tracking Bugfender. The app's privacy policy does not disclose this third-party sharing. The app development company, ProudCrowd, said it would update the privacy policy and that the data-sharing agreement does not allow Foursquare to collect or use the Care19 data beyond returning the names of nearby businesses. North Dakota officials say future versions of the app will incorporate Apple-Google's new Exposure Notification API.



Writer: Steven Melendez
Publication: Fast Company

 

21 May 2020
As the waning pandemic leads to signs that the protest movement is resuming, China is moving to draft new national security legislation and incorporate it into Hong Kong's Basic Law, bypassing the territory's Legislative Council. Elections for the Council are due to be held in September, and Chinese
21 May 2020
Immunity passports are likely to increase discrimination and threaten fairness and public health - and won't work for practical reasons. First and foremost, scientists do not yet know whether infection confers immunity or for how long; the serological tests so far developed are insufficiently
20 May 2020
Both COVID-19 mortality and the economic impact of the virus-related closures are disproportionately affecting the UK’s ethnic minorities after taking age and location into account, exacerbating existing inequalities and reversing what had appeared to be progress. There are also concerns about child
20 May 2020
After the CEO of NHSx told the the UK parliament that data harvested by the NHSx contact tracing app would be retained for future research, the UK Ministry of Defence said it would turn the data over to its Jhub to sanitise the data and remove all personally identifying information before passing it
20 May 2020
More than 6 million Australians downloaded the government’s COVIDSafe contact tracing app after being told it was necessary to help health officials track future coronavirus outbreaks. In late May, a software developer found a flaw in the app that would allow someone with a relatively simple
20 May 2020
The outsourcing company Serco, which the UK government has contracted to perform contact tracing, accidentally shared the email addresses of almost 300 of the contact tracers it hired when a staff member sent an introductory email and used CC rather than blind CC. Serco does not intend to refer
20 May 2020
The UK's Project OASIS collects data from third-party app providers that are collecting COVID-19 symptoms and demographic data to help the NHS respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministry of Defence Strategic Command's technology innovation hub, JHub, has been brought in to provide assistance and
20 May 2020
The EFF is opposing a California bill, AB 2004, that would authorise the issuers of COVID-19 test results to provide them with blockchain-based verifiable credentials that could enable individuals to resume work, travel, or any other activity where verification of a COVID-19 test would be needed
20 May 2020
In its final report, the expert group appointed by the Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services to assess the security and privacy of the country's COVID-19 contact tracing app, "Smittestopp", concluded that the app handles neither responsibly. The group recommended removing all data once it's
20 May 2020
In late May, Florida fired Rebekah Jones, its geographic information system manager and architect of the state’s COVID-19 data and surveillance dashboard. The dashboard was praised on TV two weeks earlier by Deborah Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task
19 May 2020
After governments in many parts of the world began mandating wearing masks when out in public, researchers in China and the US published datasets of images of masked faces scraped from social media sites to use as training data for AI facial recognition models. Researchers from the startup
19 May 2020
In a preprint study of primary sewage sludge from a northeastern US metropolitan area, researchers detected SARS-CoV-2 RNA in all environmental samples and found that the concentrations of virus RNA were highly correlated with the COVID-19 epidemiological curve and local hospital admissions. The RNA
19 May 2020
Cameras repurposed as "fever-detecting" aren't designed for and are not very good at detecting infections, but businesses, airlines, major employers, and public officials are nonetheless reacting to the coronavirus pandemic by spending large sums to buy them without understanding their limitations
19 May 2020
Researchers are scraping social media posts for images of mask-covered faces to use to improve facial recognition algorithms. In April, researchers published to Github the COVID19 Mask Image Dataset, which contains more than 1,200 images taken from Instagram; in March, Wuhan researchers compiled the
19 May 2020
As part of its pandemic-related emergency measures, in April the Scottish government extended the deadline for public bodies to respond to freedom of information requests to 40 days. A month later, it was forced to withdraw the changes after opposition parties on the Scottish parliament's COVID-19
19 May 2020

Security researchers have found seven problems with the NHSx contact tracing app including: weaknesses in registration that could allow attackers to steal encryption keys; storing unencrypted data on handsets; generating a new random ID code only once a day; and design decisions with respect to Bluetooth connections that could enable tracking. These questions are independent of whether the app is centralised or decentralised.

Writer: BBC; Chris Culnane and Vanessa Teague
Publication: BBC; State of IT
 

18 May 2020
La Quadrature du Net and La Ligue des Droits de l’Homme have won a ruling from the Conseil d’État, France’s highest administration court, making drones equipped with cameras and flying low enough to detect individuals by their clothing or a distinctive sign illegal. During the lockdown, French
18 May 2020
France, like the UK, opted to develop its own contact tracing app. "StopCovid", using a centralised design developed by the Pan-European Privacy-Preserving Proxity Tracing (PEPP-PT) group, which created a framework called ROBust and the privacy-presERving proximity Tracing protocol (ROBERT). French
18 May 2020
In March the Dutch government announced that a contact tracing app would become the core of its testing policy. Of the 750 proposals it received in response to its open tender, 63 were long-listed; however, none of the seven finalists met the privacy and security criteria. Research simulating the
15 May 2020
Many of India’s informal workforce of 450 million people - 90% of the total workforce - were abruptly closed out of their places of employment when prime minister Narendra Modi abruptly ordered a lockdown in April. Left without pay, unable to stay in their living conditions, and with only limited
13 May 2020
Taking advantage of the pandemic to close US borders, the Trump administration is also spreading coronavirus infection by deporting detainees to receiving countries such as Guatemala, where 20% of infections are deportees. Guatemala has only two hospitals and a scattering of smaller regional medical
13 May 2020
In designing its Healthy Together contact tracing app, the US state of Utah opted for a GPS and Bluetooth-based design created by social media startup Twenty; it does not use the Google-Apple API. The goal is for the app to assist the 1,200 Utah Department of Health workers who are doing phone call
13 May 2020
More than 3 million people in the UK have downloaded the JoinZoe COVID Symptom Tracker, which was designed by doctors and scientists at King's College London, Guys and St Thomas' Hospitals working in partnership with the health science company ZOE Global Ltd and endorsed by governments and NHS in
13 May 2020
The Slovak Constitutional Court declared unconstitutional parts of the newly amended telecommunication law that permitted state authorities to access telcommunications data for the purposes of contact tracing. The parliament approved the legislation in March, but the court ruled that the need for
12 May 2020
Any user of India's Aaorgya Setu contact tracing app can now request deletion of the data they've entered according to the Aaorgya Seta Emergency Data Access and Knowledge Sharing Protocol, 2020, which specifies the definition, collection, processing, and storage of the data the app collects. The
11 May 2020
In mid-May, the Chilean health minister, Jame Mañalich, postponed the planned launch that would have made the country the first in the world to issue “immunity passports” on the basis that it could trigger discrimination in the job market. The decision was approved by experts from the Chilean
11 May 2020
The Manchester-based cybersecurity company VST Enterprises is working a digital health company Circle Pass Enterprises to create the “Covi-pass” digital health passport intended to allow holders to work and travel safely. The Covi-pass uses a colour system of red, green, and amber to indicate
11 May 2020

The combination of poverty, crowded living conditions, and lack of access to running water place Europe's 10 million Roma at particular risk from the coronavirus, leading in some countries to their scapegoating as potential hotspots for illness, according to an Open Society Foundations report. In Sofia people are only allowed to leave Roma neighbourhoods through police checkpoints if they can produce a work contract or urgent reason. In Slovakia, five Roma settlements were put under quarantine in early April; four have since had the quarantine lifted. Many Roma people have lost their jobs and may not be eligible for state compensation schemes, and many families do not have either broadband connections or sufficient devices to support distance learning for their children.

Writer: Shaun Walker
Publication: Guardian
 

11 May 2020
The Indian state of Madhya Pradesh created a COVID-19 dashboard that displayed the names of at least 5,400 quarantined people, their device IDs and names, their OS version, app version codes, current GPS coordinates, and office GPS coordinates. Shortly after the dashboard's existence was posted on
10 May 2020
A number of incidents in which Zoom events in education settings were disrupted led the New York City school district to ban the use of Zoom for remote learning. Among the Zoombombing incidents: saboteurs inserted racist and anti-Semitic messages into a virtual graduation ceremony at Oklahoma City
09 May 2020
The Egyptian president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, has approved 18 amendments to the country's emergency law that allow him and security agencies additional powers. Only five of the amendments are clearly related to public health. Along with closing schools and universities, quarantining people
09 May 2020
Under the country's emergency laws, on May 4 the Hungarian government announced it would suspend parts of GDPR and exempted authorities from key provisions such as subject access rights, the right to request erasures, and providing notice that personal information is being collected and stored as
09 May 2020
The Australian journalist Chris Buckley, who reports for the New York Times, was forced to leave China on April 10 after 24 years of reporting on the country, bringing the number of journalists forced out of the country in the last year to 19. After travelling to Wuhan to report on the unfolding
08 May 2020
Among the regulations governing restaurants as the US State of Maine's moves into a phased reopening is a requirement to maintain customer records for contact tracing purposes, including one customer's name and contact information per party and those of the table's server. The regulations also
08 May 2020
At a press conference, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested that microchipping everyone, beginning with children returning to school and kindergarten as the coronavirus lockdown ends; the chip would sound an alarm whenever anyone gets too close much as a car does. Security experts
08 May 2020
As part of their preparations to ease the lockdown, French authorities have added AI tools into the CCTV cameras in the Paris Metro to detect the number of passengers who are wearing face masks. The system is also being used in outdoor markets and buses in Cannes. Although it is mandatory to wear a
07 May 2020
Colombia will adopt the Apple-Google contact tracing platform after finding it necessary to remove the contact tracing functions from CoronApp, the official Colombian coronavirus information app because they didn’t work. CoronApp was downloaded by 4.3 million people, and includes features to report
07 May 2020
In a technical analysis of the UK NHSx contact tracing app for iOS, security engineers find that Apple's Bluetooth design makes it harder to detect iPhones running the app in background mode, and the app is using "keepalive" notifications in order to keep the app able to make the necessary
06 May 2020
Serbian MPs voted 155-0, with one not voting and one abstention, to lift the state of emergency that was declared on March 15 and repeal 11 emergency ordinances covering work, tax, debt, and criminal justice on the basis that the conditions for lifting it have been met. The change lifts curfews and
06 May 2020
Shortly after launch, security researcher Baptiste Robert discovered that India's contact tracing app, Aarogya Setu ("Health Bridge"), allows users to spoof their GPS location, find out how many people reported themselves as infected within any 500-metre radius, and mount a triangulation attack to
06 May 2020
The Australian government reported soon after releasing its CovidSafe contact tracing app that the app doesn’t work properly on iPhones because it doesn’t use Apple’s Exposure Notification framework and the Bluetooth functions deteriorate if the app isn’t kept running in the foreground. The
06 May 2020
In Colombia, Peru, and Panama, quarantine regulations assign men and women different days to go out. For transgender people, these gender-based restrictions mean discrimination and violence for law enforcement and others, leading to numerous complaints. In Bogota, where law enforcement has been
05 May 2020
On the day South Korea relaxed its social distancing measures, a 29-year-old man tested positive for COVID-19. The previous weekend, he had visited five nightclubs in the gay district of Itweon in Seoul, mingling with around 7,200 other people. After nearly 80 new COVID-19 cases have been linked to
05 May 2020
In April, as the crisis in Italy began to ease, some Italian health officials and politicians, among them Luca Zaia, the regional president of the northeastern region of Veneto, began to propose a “Covid Pass” that would Italians who have antibodies showing they have had and recovered from the
05 May 2020
After a call from a vendor, India's state-owned Broadcast Engineering Consultants Limited (BECIL) put out an expression of interest for electronic bracelets and accompanying software for use to ensure that COVID-19 patients do not violate their quarantine orders. A hundred companies responded. BECIL
05 May 2020
A parliamentary panel granted Israel's Shin Bet security service an additional three weeks to use mobile phone data to track people infected with the coronavirus; prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu had requested a six-week extension while his government drafts legislation to regulate the data use in
04 May 2020
In April, the US state of North Carolina's Dare County enacted a series of emergency declarations that establish checkpoints at all points where roads cross the county borders; travellers show an ID card with a Dare County address or a county-issued permit in order to enter the county. Dare County
04 May 2020
Immunity passports would impose artificial restrictions on who can and cannot participate in social, civic, and economic activities, and create a perverse incentive for individuals, particularly those who can’t afford a period of exclusion, to seek out infection, posing a health risk to anyone they
04 May 2020
The rush to incorporate greater safety from the coronavirus is bringing with it a new wave of workplace surveillance as companies install tracking software to determine who may have been exposed and which areas need deep cleaning if an employee gets infected; monitor social distancing; and use
04 May 2020
The German health minister, Jens Spahn, said the country required advice from the country’s ethics council before it could use the millions of antibody tests it had procured from the Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche to help determine how freely people could move around the country. Spahn cited the
03 May 2020
The International Press Institute has found that in both democratic and autocratic states the public health crisis has given governments the excuse of preventing the spread of disinformation to exercise control over the media, whether by criminalising journalism or controlling the public narrative
03 May 2020
Only 16% of Australians had downloaded the country's COVIDSafe app by May 3, a week after its launch on April 26, even though most said they support the federal government's coronavirus contact tracing app. In an Ipsos poll, 80% of those who said they were unlikely to download the app cited privacy
03 May 2020
The state of Utah gave the AI company Banjo real time access to state traffic cameras, CCTV, and public safety cameras, 911 emergency systems, location data for state-owned vehicles, and other data that the company says it's combining with information collected from social media, satellites, and
02 May 2020
A security lapse exposed one of the core databases of the coronavirus self-test symptom checker app launched by India's largest cellphone network, Jio, shortly before the government lockdown began in late March. The database, which had no password protection and contained millions of logs and
02 May 2020
At least 27 countries are using data from cellphone companies to track the movements of their citizens, and at least 30 have developed smartphone apps for the public to download. Fewer objections have been raised in countries with greater levels of success in containing the virus. However, although
01 May 2020
The controversial facial recognition company Clearview AI, which came to public attention for scraping billions of photos off social media sites to create a comprehensive facial recognition system, says it has offered to help US federal and three state agencies with contact tracing. The company
01 May 2020
As the first confirmed coronavirus case in Pakistan, Yahyah Jaffery became a pariah after his identity, photograph, and home address were leaked on social media. Similar leaks about dozens of other patients and medical staff followed. The contact tracing system being used for coronavirus was
30 Apr 2020
The Indian authorities have said that the country's contact-tracing app, Aarogya Setu ("health bridge", in Sanskrit), will be voluntary - but mandatory for federal government employees, food delivery workers, and some other service providers. It may also be needed to access public transport and
30 Apr 2020
The central Thailand province of Chachoengsao has launched Mor Channa, a COVID-19 tracking mobile phone app, to help individuals assess whether they are in a high-risk area for COVID-19. Energy Absolute PLC, one of the companies that helped develop the app, believes that the app's tracking system
30 Apr 2020
Two million people downloaded Australia's COVIDSafe app in the first four days it was available; the government's goal is to reach 10 million, or about 40% of the population. Users are asked for a (not necessarily real) name, age, mobile number, and postal code. The app exchanges a Bluetooth
29 Apr 2020
Numerous efforts to create apps to help monitor and map the spread of COVID-19 rely on satnav-based location data from Galileo. The CovTrack app developed on a pro-bono basis by the Romanian company RISE, for example, uses Bluetooth connections between mobile phones to store identification data the
29 Apr 2020
In February, before the pandemic was declared, the Myanmar Post and Telecommunications Department set a deadline of April 30 for citizens to register their mobile phone SIMs, a move the PTD said was necessary to enhance the security of electronic transactions and cut down crime. The PTD issued an
29 Apr 2020
Amazon has spent $10 million to buy 1,500 cameras to take the temperature of workers from the Chinese firm Zhejiang Dahua Technology Company even though the US previously blacklisted Dahua because it was alleged to have helped China detain and monitor the Uighurs and other Muslim minorities. The
29 Apr 2020
As part of considering how to reopen tourism, the Greek Ministry of Tourism is considering introducing a “health passport” to be used as proof that the carrier is not infected with COVID-19. The test will be performed before the traveller leaves their country of origin. To begin with, the scheme
29 Apr 2020
Hawaii governor David Ige has ordered all travellers to the island US state arriving between March 26 and May 31 to self-quarantine for 14 days. Violating the order is a criminal offence and subject to a $5,000 fine and up to a year's imprisonment. In addition, the Department of Transportation
28 Apr 2020
Human Rights Watch finds problems with immunity passports Human Rights Watch considers the first proposals for immunity passports and suggests that although antibody testing is useful for ensuring the safety of frontline workers or giving a good idea of the percentage of a population that remains
28 Apr 2020
Many of the technologies used to combat the coronavirus pandemic, including monitoring and analysing social media posts, telecommunications location data, and the use of sensors, were first tested on refugees during the 2015 crisis and are now being repurposed in the name of public health. In 2019
28 Apr 2020
The Israeli company Cellebrite, best known for providing hacking software to help law enforcement agencies get inside suspects' iPhones, is now pitching its technology to help authorities pull the location data and contacts off the phones of newly-diagnosed COVID-19 patients in order to "quarantine
28 Apr 2020
An audit of two apps and a website used by national and local governments in Colombia finds: an absence of public information about the tools, how they work, or how their security and privacy is protected; non-compliance with Colombia’s data protection legal framework, particularly in the area of
27 Apr 2020
At a cost to itself of £88,000 a week in salaries alone, Palantir has committed 45 engineers to a government data project intended to help predict surges in demand for the NHS during the pandemic. The company will be paid £1 a week for its work. Besides Palantir's work supporting the US Immigration
27 Apr 2020
The mother of a six-month-old baby in Aurora, Ontario was fined C$880 after police accused her of standing for more than two minutes under a gazebo in a park; she claims she pulled into the gazebo to allow people to pass on the path and answered a text before moving back onto the path. The mother
26 Apr 2020
The Internet Freedom Foundation has sent a legal notice to the Broadcast Engineering Consultants India, Limited (BECIL), a public sector undertaking under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, calling on the organisation to modify a tender seeing procurement of a "Personnel Tracking GPS
26 Apr 2020
A reverse-engineering analysis of Vietnam's official Bluetooth-based contact tracing app, Bluezone, which was developed by a coalition of local technology companies and the Ministry of Information and Communications, shows that the app is broadcasting a fixed six-character ID the app assigned to
26 Apr 2020
Three days after announcing Germany would adopt the centralised Pan-European Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing (PEPP-PT) standard for contact tracing, the country's chancellery minister Helge Braun and health minister Jens Spahn announced they would instead use the decentralised approach backed
25 Apr 2020
The automated facial recognition company Clearview AI has suggested to US federal and state authorities that its facial biometrics could leverage cameras already in place at gyms and retailers in order to identify individuals in the interests of contact tracing. Simultaneously, the company is asking
24 Apr 2020
At least four law enforcement agencies in the US - two in California, and one in each of Maryland and Texas - are using drones to communicate with homeless people about maintaining social distance because encampments are located in areas that are difficult to access and police do not have to visit
24 Apr 2020
Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti, Jamaica, and Ecuador have all asked the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement to screen migrants in detention for COVID-19 before deporting them. At least 85 deported Guatemalans have tested positive, accounting for about a fifth of all the cases reported in
24 Apr 2020
The Pakistani government has repurposed a system designed by the country's spy agency, inter-Services Intelligence for tracking down terrorists to trace suspected COVID-19 cases. Prime minister Imran Khan has said that efficient tracking and testing of coronavirus-infected people is the only way to
23 Apr 2020
Blockchain timestamping supplier Guardtime, French health data manager OpenHealth, and Swiss authentication and tracing technologies company SICPA Group have jointly proposed the COVID-19 secured immunity passport. The proposed immunity passport would serve as the basis for real-time monitoring of a
22 Apr 2020
Citing privacy concerns, the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee voted to block the Israeli government’s request for an extension to police powers to requisition mobile phone roaming data relating to those ordered to quarantine for enforcement purposes. Access had been granted for a
22 Apr 2020
Police will be barred from accessing metadata collected by Australia's proposed coronavirus contact tracing app, which will be able to identify when users have been 1.5 metres of each other for more than 15 minutes, Australia's government services minister, Stuart Robert, and prime minister, Scott
22 Apr 2020
Our partners from Unwanted Witness in Uganda wrote a formal letter to the Ministry of Information Communications Technology and National Guidance demanding for strict observance of human rights for any intended use of surveillance technologies to fight COVID-19. In a letter addressed to the
21 Apr 2020
Our partners from the Centre for Internet & Society in India wonder themselves whether the use of an official chatbot to advance ‘right information’ is the most efficient way to handle misinformation?. In a recent example, a ministry released advisories on how homeopathy can prevent the coronavirus
21 Apr 2020
By May 11, the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, working with EFPL and ETH Zurich, will launch a secure, decentralised system for contact tracing developed by the Decentralised Privacy-Preserving-Proximity Tracing (DP-3T) international consortium, whose Swiss partners are Ubique and
21 Apr 2020
On April 20 Hong Kong authorities arrested some of the most prominent anti-China activists. The need to clear the streets to protect public health during the COVID-19 outbreak provided the authorities an opportunity to cripple the protest movement that had spread across the country beginning in mid
21 Apr 2020
Our partners from Karisma in Colombia analysed three different technological solutions intending to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, finding vulnerabilities in them (in Spanish). Link: https://web.karisma.org.co/que-sabemos-de-las-tres-herramientas-que-se-anuncian-como-soluciones-tecnologicas-para
21 Apr 2020
The French government asked Apple to change the way its phones handle Bluetooth in order to accommodate the design of its contact tracing app. Downloading and installing the app will be voluntary, but the app will use a centralised design in which the data will be fed into a government server for
21 Apr 2020
The US Department of Health and Human Services has awarded a contract to build a database system, HHS Protect Now, to track the spread of the coronavirus across the US to the data-mining company Palantir. Palantir founder and investor Peter Thiel was US president Donald Trump's earliest and highest
21 Apr 2020
Many of the steps suggested in a draft programme for China-style mass surveillance in the US are being promoted and implemented as part of the government’s response to the pandemic, perhaps due to the overlap of membership between the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, the body
20 Apr 2020
To speed up daily temperature checks, Amazon has installed thermal cameras to screen workers for coronavirus symptoms in its warehouses around the world. Cases of COVID-19 have been reported at more than 50 of the company's US warehouses. Thermal cameras will also replace thermometers at staff
20 Apr 2020
A data breach that posted 100 to 200 names, email addresses, and encrypted passwords online was found in the Belgian Covid-19 Alert! app, one of seven candidates for adoption by the Dutch government. The app identifies phones that have been close to each other via Bluetooth signals and can send them
19 Apr 2020
Turkey's Health Ministry has launched a smartphone app that allows people to self-report symptoms, provides information on nearby hospitals, pharmacies, supermarkets, and public transport stops, detects if the user has come into contact with others who pose a risk, and provides up-to-date
18 Apr 2020
The Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee at the Egyptian Parliament approved 18 new amendments to section three of the country's emergency law granting the president additional powers to implement health and safety measures to curb the spread of COVID-19. The new powers include
17 Apr 2020
Among several other digital contact tracing options, the New Zealand government is considering distributing Bluetooth enabled credit card-sized "CovidCards" to all 5 million New Zealanders. The card solves some problems such as lack of access to or comfort with smartphones for 19% of the population
17 Apr 2020
Abu Dhabi’s Department of Health has released a new mobile app, "Stay Home", to ensure those asked to self-quarantine are abiding by the isolation rules. Everyone subject to quarantine is expected to download the app and create a user name and password; the user must also grant access to camera
16 Apr 2020
North Macedonia is the first country in the Western Balkans to launch a contact-tracing app. The government has stressed that the Bluetooth-based app, StopKorona!, complies with all legal privacy requirements. The app follows a decentralised design, so that users maintain full control over their
16 Apr 2020
The travel bans and border controls instituted to prevent the spread of COVID-19 jeopardise refugees’ access to international protection, bringing the right to leave any country and seek asylum into direct collision with the human right to life. Source: https://www.kaldorcentre.unsw.edu.au
16 Apr 2020
In early April, police in a UK park violated their own social distancing guidelines to order ITN journalist Michael Segalov to go home when he began filming the same police appearing to harass a distressed woman. Segalov's solicitors at ITN followed up by filing a letter of complaint demanding an
16 Apr 2020
Our partners from Derechos Digitales analysed the Chilean Government App to respond to the Corona Virus, saying that it will likely be useless and infringing on existing privacy rights (in Spanish) Link: https://www.derechosdigitales.org/14387/coronapp-la-inutilidad-del-atajo-tecnologico-desplegado
16 Apr 2020
Liechtenstein is the first European country to use biometric electronic bracelets to implement a real time coronavirus tracking programme. The bracelet, which sends skin temperature, breathing, and pulse, among other metrics, for analysis in a Swiss lab, is being offered to 5% of the population. The
16 Apr 2020
New versions of drones that currently issue audio warnings reminding people in Elizabeth, New Jersey to observe social distancing guidelines will incorporate sensors and fever-detecting cameras that will monitor if people are sick or failing to social distance on the trails and in the parks of
16 Apr 2020
Moscow's first attempts to introduce digital methods by which residents could obtain digital passes to move around the city failed as the website collapsed numerous times and the app required them to get a pass for every single move rather than only to drive a car, as the government has stated. City
16 Apr 2020
Since the Azarebaijani government imposed the lockdown to slow the spread of COVID-19 the authorities have sentenced at least six activists and a pro-opposition journalist to detention for between ten and 30 days on charges including breaking lockdown rules or disobeying police orders. Almost all of
15 Apr 2020
Under Ontario's Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, which prohibits gatherings of more than five people, public health officials in Ottawa are pushing citizens to avoid even apparently innocuous activities such as talking across a fence to a neighbour or drinking a beer on your home's
15 Apr 2020
India's COVID-19 tracker app, Aarogya Setu, was downloaded 50 million times in the first 13 days it was available. Developed by the National Informatics Centre a subsidiary of the Ministry of Electronics and IT, the app is available on both Android and iOS smartphones, and uses GPS and Bluetooth to
15 Apr 2020
Eight days after instituting a gender-based quarantine schedule, Peruvian president Martin Vizcarra cancelled the measure two days before it was due to end. It had been met with a backlash from LGBTQ+ activists, who feared trans and binary people would face increasing street harassment from police
15 Apr 2020
The Department of Health in the US state of Kansas is tracking residents' locations via a platform called Unacast, which compares aggregated GPS mobile phone data from before and after the implementation of social distancing and grades each county on its compliance. As of April 1, 45 of 105 Kansas
15 Apr 2020
The Venezuelan government has ramped up quarantine enforcement in the Catia barrio in Caracas by issuing permits that allow only one family member out at a time and only before noon, and setting up 40 checkpoints. Many residents had flouted regulations in the barrio, home to 400,000 of Venezuela's
15 Apr 2020
The Australian government's planned contact tracing app will reportedly be based on Singapore's TraceTogether, which relies on Bluetooth connections to detect other phones in range and log the results, so that if a phone user tests positive for COVID-19 and consents their close contacts can be
14 Apr 2020
Filipino president Rodrigo Duterte has exempted survey teams and National ID system registrars from lockdown rules on the basis that they are essential to providing cash distributions and other government responses intended to soften the impact of the community quarantine. Duterte argued that the
14 Apr 2020
Our partners from Hiperderecho in Peru proposed 15 measures to improve the COVID-19 app that the Peruvian Government is rolling out in the country (in Spanish). Link: https://hiperderecho.org/2020/04/quince-propuestas-para-mejorar-la-aplicacion-del-gobierno-del-covid-19/
14 Apr 2020
Our partners from Right to Know campaign in South Africa produced this infosheet to simplify what the South African government has committed to doing in ensuring that the use of surveillance does not impact negatively on people’s rights to privacy and that necessary data protections are taken into
12 Apr 2020
Ghana's opposition party, the National Democratic Congress, has blamed a spike in cases of COVID-19 on the National Identification Authority's refusal to suspend its registration efforts in the country's Eastern Region even though two citizens filed for a court injunction to halt the operation and
12 Apr 2020
Montreal police have launched an online system to enable residents to report suspicious activity such as group gatherings after police officers noticed significant crowding in certain areas of the city. Both the Montreal police and the province's Sureté du Québec can hand out an on-the-spot $1,000
12 Apr 2020
GDPRHub is collecting a list of projects around the world that are using personal data to combat the novel coronavirus. The list is divided into categories such as decentralised contact tracing apps and frameworks; centralised contact tracing systems; lockdown enforcement; self-assessment apps
12 Apr 2020
Palantir and the British AI start-up Faculty are data-mining large volumes of confidential UK patient information to consolidate government databases and build predictive computer models under contract to NHSx, the digital transformation arm of the UK's National Health Service. NHSx said the goal is
10 Apr 2020
Apple and Google have announced a partnership to enable governments and health agencies to use Bluetooth for proximity-based contact tracing to help reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus while preserving user privacy and security. The effort is due to begin with the May release of APIs that
10 Apr 2020
As part of its new state of emergency law, Cambodia's national assembly has granted the country's leader, Hun Sen, new powers to surveille telecommunications, control the press and social media, restrict freedom of movement and of assembly, seize private property, and enforce quarantine orders, as
10 Apr 2020
In a sharp drop from the beginning of Canada's lockdown, after two months only one in six Canadians left their home on weekends compared to one in three at the beginning. The marketing company Environics Analytics compiled the report by analysing a database of anonymised location data from 2.3
10 Apr 2020
On April 5, Azerbaijan tightened the quarantine regime imposed on March 24 to require residents under 65 to receive permission via an SMS message before leaving their homes. Only three reasons are allowed: to visit the doctor, to visit a pharmacy, shop, bank, or post office, or attend a relative's
10 Apr 2020
NHS England is using Yoti's digital ID card solution to verify health care workers' identity; the cards are added to staff phones, enbaling them to use a contactless ID app to prove their identity both online and offline. Yoti is providing the system for free for three months to all public health
10 Apr 2020
On April 2 Peruvian president Martín Vizcarra issued a controversial rule that men and women must observe quarantine on different days: men may leave their homes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, while women may leave only on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. No one is allowed out on Sundays
10 Apr 2020
Premier League football has set up a COVID-19 testing programme that it says should soon allow socially-distanced fans to return to stadiums using technology from a company called Prenetics, which is also delivering testing for the England cricket team. Prenetics’ digital health passport links an
09 Apr 2020
The Afghan Ministry of Public Health and Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology have launched the "corona.asan.gov.af" software to provide health advice in three English, Dari, and Pashto; using the questions embedded in the software users can evaluate themselves for the virus
09 Apr 2020
Tanzania's Communication Regulatory Authority punished three TV stations for airing content that was "misleading and untrue" about the government's strategy on fighting coronavirus. Critics believe that TCRA objected to a report that criticised President John Magufuli for saying that churches should
09 Apr 2020
Our partners from Coding Rights in Brazil analysed 18 different Bills introduced to the Congress to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic (in Portuguese). Link: https://www.codingrights.org/radar-legislativo-especial-covid-19-e-tecnologia/
09 Apr 2020
The Norwegian contact tracing app, Infection Stop, relies on a centralised database to store users' GPS locations for 30 days, like its Chinese counterpart. Sumula, the company that developed the app, claims is necessary because of technical limitations in Apple's smartphone operating system iOS
09 Apr 2020
The city of Moscow is planning to use smartphone geolocation functions to track foreign tourists' movements through the city to prevent outbreaks of COVID-19 after Russia reopens its borders. Moscow accounts for two-thirds of all cases in the country. Moscow City Hall is considering a system that
09 Apr 2020
The risk detection company Dataminr has created an AI system that analyses social media posts to predict the next hotspots for COVID-19 outbreaks. The company claims it successfully predicted spikes seven to 13 days before they occurred - in the UK, in London, Hertfordshire, Essex, and Kent, and in
09 Apr 2020
In order to enforce mandatory 14-day quarantine orders, Kenyan authorities have been tracking mobile phones of people suspected to have COVID-19. Also in Kenya, police enforcement efforts have led to several deaths: three died of injuries from being beaten, one, a 13-year-old boy, was hit by a
09 Apr 2020
Ten Ugandan police officers were charged with torture after allegedly caning 38 women and forcing them to swim in mud in Elegu, a town in the northern part of the country. Police have also arrested 23 people during a raid on a shelter for homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth
09 Apr 2020
Thousands of Israelis have been ordered into quarantine without any right of appeal based on cellphone tracking that may be wrong because phone geolocation is insufficiently fine-grained to tell the difference between two people being in the same room and being separated by a door when dropping off
09 Apr 2020
The Turkish Health Ministry's Pandemic Isolation Tracking Project is using mobile device location data to track patients diagnosed with COVID-19 and ensure they obey the government's quarantine requirements. Violators will be sent warning messages and their information will be shared with the police
08 Apr 2020
Anyone in Egypt who suspects they or others have COVID-19 is required to immediately report it to the authorities in order to stop the spread of the virus and enable treatment. On April 1 Ahmed Refaat, a member of the parliamentary Telecommunications Committee, submitted a proposal for creating an
08 Apr 2020
Oura Rings, which measure body temperature and blood pulse volume to determine heart and respiratory rate and track sleep, are the subject of a national study being jointly conducted by the West Virginia University Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, WVU Medicine, and Oura Health in hopes it can be
08 Apr 2020
The Kazakhstani ministry of health requires the 8,000 or so Kazakhstani citizens currently under quarantine to use the SmartAstana tracking app, which enables officials to ensure that they remain in isolation. By contrast, for the city of Almaty the ministry of the interior relies on video
08 Apr 2020
Germany's federal agency responsible for disease control and prevention, the Robert Koch Institute, has teamed up with the health technology start-up Thryve to develop an app called Corona-Datenspende ("data donation") that works with a variety of smartwatches and fitness wristbands. The app is
08 Apr 2020
Drone manufacturer DJI has loaned five drones equipped with voice capabilities and sirens to the US town of Elizabeth, New Jersey for use to patrol public areas and warn violators of the state's lockdown rules. The drones' messages are recordings of the mayor telling people to stop gathering
07 Apr 2020
British biometric start-ups are helping the UK government create digital passports. VST Enterprises is providing a biometrics-backed digital health care passport, V-COVID, to help critical NHS and emergency services workers get back to work; the passport will incorporate test results and be included
07 Apr 2020
Our partners from Tedic in Paraguay analysed different tech proposals from the Paraguayan government, saying that emergencies are not a 'blank check' for them to do whatever they want (in Spanish). Link: https://www.tedic.org/noesunchequeenblanco/
07 Apr 2020
The Bangladeshi start-up Sigmind.ai has developed the WATCHCAM Mass Surveillance System, which it claims can recognise individuals even when they're wearing a mask with 87.3% accuracy - and 99.4% if they're not wearing a mask. The company began developing the system in 2019 to provide ATM security
06 Apr 2020
Our partners from Fundación Datos Protegidos in Chile also reacted to the Chilean Government App to handle the COVID-19 situation, and listed a series of critical regulatory points, demanding a multistakeholder instance to discuss them. Link: https://datosprotegidos.org/declaracion-de-fundacion
05 Apr 2020
Every person placed in quarantine in Bahrain will be required to wear an electronic bracelet to ensure compliance. Mohammad Ali, head of electronic government, said that people fitted with the bracelets will have to stay within 15 metres of their mobile phones, which will be linked to the bracelets
05 Apr 2020
On request, Vodafone Australia, which has 6 million subscribers nationwide, handed the mobile phone location data of several million Australians to the federal and New South Wales governments to help them monitor whether people are following the social distancing restrictions. The governments
04 Apr 2020
Israel's controversial NSO Group, which makes spyware that governments have used to target journalists and human rights activists, says it's in talks with Western governments to use its software to track the spread of the coronavirus. A demonstration, governments themselves, rather than NSO Group
03 Apr 2020
Ukraine's quarantine measures in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus included prohibiting visits to parks and sports fields, banning gatherings of more than two people, requiring everyone to wear masks and carry ID cards when outside their homes, as well as closing educational
03 Apr 2020
Google has begun publishing "COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports", which analyse the location data it collects from smartphones to create maps of aggregated changes in the movement of populations around the world. Google claims the data is "anonymised" via differential privacy, and suggests that
03 Apr 2020
The government has issued a substantial rewrite of a controversial proposal to track people using their phones and other devices in the bid to contain Covid-19. AmaBhungane, an investigative journalism newsroom, said the first “directions” – issued last week by the minister of communications –
02 Apr 2020
New Zealand's lockdown protocol includes a system to allow the police to monitor the whereabouts of travellers returning home. On arrival at the border, incoming travellers are asked for a contact mobile number. Once Welfare has ensured they have suitable accommodation, they receive a text from NZ
02 Apr 2020
The South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research will partner with Telkom and Samsung to create a track and trace system specifically for the South African context, which includes high levels of economic inequality, poverty, and
02 Apr 2020
In Haiti, the National Identification Office has been extremely crowded, despite the government requirement to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people. The cards, which include a photo, name, date of birth, and registry number, are required for bank transactions and other official purposes. Source
02 Apr 2020
The surveillance tool supplier Cy4Gate is pitching surveillance tools to track every citizen and their contacts to multiple governments around the world, including their own. In a demonstration of the system, Governments using the system, which Cy4Gate calls "Human Interaction Tracking System (HITS)
01 Apr 2020
Prime Minister Andrew Holness told the House of representatives that efforts to combat Covid-19 would be “greatly assisted” by a mandatory biometric national ID system. The national identification system, NIDS, would require everyone to register and be linked to an individual’s unique biometric. The
01 Apr 2020
Because many people were still circulating on the streets despite the lockdown order issued on March 25, Panama expanded its social distancing measures by implementing gender-based quarantine schedules from April 1 to April 12: men may leave their homes to get necessities on Mondays, Wednesdays, and
01 Apr 2020
On March 20, the UK's Department of Health and Social Care published a notice providing legal backing for the NHS to set aside the duty of patient confidentiality as part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As long as it is to fight the coronavirus, NHS organisations and GPs may share whatever
01 Apr 2020
On April 1, Iceland launched an app that uses GPS to locate people who may have been in close contact with confirmed COVID-19 patients. A message containing a download link for the app will be sent to all Icelanders; downloading it and then agreeing to disclose GPS data are both voluntary, but for
01 Apr 2020
The global secure solutions integrator SuperCom has begun piloting a modified version of the company's PureHeath platform, which incorporates a specially designed "PureCare" smartphone and "PureTag" ankle bracelet, aimed at ensuring that people comply with quarantine requirements during the
01 Apr 2020
Led by Germany's Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute for Telecoms, technologists and scientists from at least eight countries, are working on a proximity-based contact tracing technology that complies with GDPR. The Pan-European Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing project (PEPP-PT) is intended to
01 Apr 2020

The Myanmar Ministry of Union Government Office, Ministreay Health and Sports, Ministry of Transport and Communications, and youth tech expert Ko Htoo Myint Naung have collaborated on a mobile app to monitor people ordered to quarantine, adapted from other similar apps developed in countries such as South Korea. The app, which is available in Myanmar and English, allows both citizens and foreign residents to report on their health condition. Mobile operators will provide free SIM cards and 1GB of internet data for people under quarantine. A database of all registered and quarantined people will be used to build appropriate action plans.

Writer:  Myanmar News Agency
Publication: Global New Light of Myanmar
 

31 Mar 2020
In one of its pandemic-related emergency orders, the Canadian province of Ontario has extended to police officers, First Nations constables, special constables, and municipal by-law enforcement officers the power to require those facing charges under the emergency laws to give their name, date of
31 Mar 2020
The Israeli defense minister, Naftali Bennett, has published a plan under which civilian companies including the controversial company NSO Group would cooperate with the defence establishment to fight the novel coronavirus after a sharp rise in reported cases indicated that existing methods of
31 Mar 2020
Biometrics companies are offering free services to essential businesses, remote workforces, and government agencies administering benefits claims during the coronavirus pandemic. Among them are Redrock Biometrics, which is waiving its licence fee for palm print recognition for essential businesses
31 Mar 2020
As part of Mexico City's March 31 lockdown, which shut all shops except those relating to health, food, and essential services, telephone companies will provide access to cell phone antennas to enable the Digital Agency of Public Innovation to monitor movement and personal contact. The information
31 Mar 2020
The former Big Brother reality TV star Matías Schrank was arrested by the Cybercrime division of the Misiones provincial police, after publishing tweets that claimed that Eduardo Rovira, the president of the Misiones legislature, had contracted COVID-19 on his recent trip to Thailand and was
31 Mar 2020
The State Disaster Management Authority of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, in collaboration with other government agencies, is developing tools to track the travel history of people who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and those who are under quarantine at home. The COVID alerting
31 Mar 2020
To help the UK's Department for Work and Pensions handle the more than half a million applications the department received in the last two weeks of March, the identity verification company Nomidio, a subsidiary of Post-Quantum, is offering its service free of charge. The service would enable a
31 Mar 2020
The regulations brought in to curb the spread of COVID-19 in South Africa included directions published by the minister of communications and digital technologies that critics claimed violated the country's constitution. On the plus side, the regulations ordered service providers to ensure continued
31 Mar 2020
As inmates are released from prison in order to mitigate the public health and humanitarian threat posed by the coronavirus poses to a confined population, Minneapolis-based Precision Kiosk Technologies is highlighting its AB Kiosks, which can be used to replace riskier face-to-face meetings with
31 Mar 2020
As inmates are released from prison in order to mitigate the public health and humanitarian threat posed by the coronavirus poses to a confined population, Minneapolis-based Precision Kiosk Technologies is highlighting its AB Kiosks, which can be used to replace riskier face-to-face meetings with
30 Mar 2020
The Western Australia state police force is using drones to deliver audio warnings to enforce the quarantine restrictions placed on some individuals and sending more than 200 officers to patrol the streets to break up gatherings and enforce social distancing in parks, beaches, and cafe strips. The
30 Mar 2020
A Telegram user reports that Uzbekistan authorities are confiscating mobile phones, audio/video equipment, bank cards, and other storage media from those in quarantine, claiming that the move is necessary to limit the spread of fear and disinformation about the virus. Source: https://thediplomat.com
30 Mar 2020
Learning from countries like South Korea, government of the Indian state Karnataka has assigned its ten-member COVID-19 task force, which includes IAS officers with expertise in the fields of technology, medicine and healthcare, to develop a system to the approximately 40,000 people who visited
30 Mar 2020
With more than 71,000 Serbian citizens returning to the country, primarily from Germany, Austria, Italy, and France, the government has introduced systems to ensure they obey the country's self-isolation rules. The government monitors telephone numbers, especially Italian ones, and pays special
30 Mar 2020
The Argentinian company Urbetrack is developing a "Cuidate en casa" (Take Care of Yourself at Home) app that it will pitch to government agencies throughout the country. The goal is to contribute to remediating the health crisis by helping enforce quarantine. The plan is that users will download the
30 Mar 2020
After police in Bellevue, WA were inundated with calls from local residents reporting suspected violations of the state's week-old stay-at-home order, they asked the public to use the MyBellevue app instead, to keep 911 lines open for emergencies. The police added that they have no plans to charge
30 Mar 2020
Mobile phone users in Pakistan have discovered that the government is accessing, without consent, their mobile phone location and call records despite legal questions about whether doing so violates the country's constitution. After users reported that patients testing positive for COVID-19 returned
30 Mar 2020
The Croatian government intends to enforce individual quarantine orders via a dedicated app, text message alerts, or location data provided by telecommunications companies. However, the government aims to comply with GDPR by targeting only those ordered into self-isolation and only tracking their
30 Mar 2020
Tunisian authorities have sent humanly remote-controlled robots onto the streets to enforce the country's lockdown; videos shared on social media show the robots challenging Tunisians in the country's capital to ask if they are aware of the rules and demand where they are going. The robots, known as
30 Mar 2020
Filipino officials are subjecting people caught breaking lockdown rules to humiliating and abusive punishments such as locking them in cramped dog cages or forcing them to sit outside in the midday sun, similar to tactics in China, where authorities have been filmed tying violators to pillars and
30 Mar 2020
The Guangzhou Public Transportation Group has installed a biometric tablet next to bus drivers' seats so they can check the temperature and identity of every passenger who boards. The tablets will also photograph each passenger, allowing them to be identified by China's facial recognition network in
30 Mar 2020
Authorities in the Kazakhstan cities of Astana and Almaty will require those ordered to mandatory quarantine to install the Smart Astana app and enable geolocation settings, wifi, and Bluetooth to make it possible to monitor them and ensure they move no more than 30 meters from their designated
30 Mar 2020
The San Francisco-based big data company Grandata has created a heat map to show which areas of Argentina are best complying with the quarantine lockdown. Grandata used an "anonymised" dataset collected from apps that provide third parties with geolocation information. The heat map shows if an
30 Mar 2020
An official directive from the Pakistani provincial government of Sindh titled "COVID-19 Mobile Registration System for Needy People" describes its use of multiple databases to identify those in need of welfare funds and disburse cash to them by combining taxpayers' data from the Federal Board of
30 Mar 2020
At the end of March, jointly organised by the Robert Koch Institute (Germany’s public health body), the German Centre for Infection Research, the Institute for Virology at Berlin’s Charite hospital, and blood donation services, researchers planned to begin conducting blood tests among the general
30 Mar 2020
The Cyprus health minister, Constantinos Ioannou, has imposed a curfew between 9pm and 6am every night from 31 March onwards for all but essential workers, who will have to carry a confirmation form signed by their employer; those who do not comply will be fined €300, double the previous fine
30 Mar 2020
The Armenian National Assembly is considering identifying the contacts of people infected with Covid-19 through cell phone location data. The draft was tabled by the government. If approved, the operators of the public electronic communications networks will be obliged to provide information on
30 Mar 2020
The Hungarian government passed a law on March 30 granting Prime Minister Viktor Orbán the power to rule indefinitely by decree, which he said was essential to deal with the coronavirus crisis. The law also contained a provision under which those spreading false information about the pandemic could
29 Mar 2020
The Argentinian Ministry of Transport, working with the state-owned satellite company ARSAT and the telecoms regulator,ENACOM, proposed to the Executive on 31 March 2020 a platform that uses cell tower data to track people on public transport and ensure they comply with quarantine laws. By 28 March
29 Mar 2020
As part of its efforts to facilitate a transition out of lockdown, researchers at Germany's Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, are planning to introduce "immunity certificates" for those who pass an antibody test to show they have had and recovered from the virus and are ready to re-enter the
29 Mar 2020
The computer science department at IIT-Bombay has sent two proposals for mobile applications that can track quarantine violators to a variety of Indian public authorities including officials in the Ministry of Human Resource and Development, the Maharashtra state government, and the Brihanmumbai
28 Mar 2020
The Ministry of Internal Affairs in Transnistria (the Pridnestrovian Moldovian Republic), an autonomous territorial unit of Moldova, has announced it will use facial recognition to identify people who break quarantine. In its press release, MIAT highlighted the case of a 26-year old citizen who was
28 Mar 2020
The Jamaican Government intends to fast-track creating and implementing a national ID system and give every Jamaican citizen a unique identifier in order to help it distribute aid and benefits needed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The government intends the system to be similar to others such
28 Mar 2020
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in conjunction with local and state governments, are using location data collected by the mobile advertising industry from millions of cellphones in order to better understand how Americans are moving during the COVID-19 pandemic and how those
28 Mar 2020
The World Health Organization will partner with major blockchain and technology companies to launch a distributed ledger-based platform to be dubbed "MiPasa" that it says will facilitate "fully private information sharing between individuals, state authorities, and health institutions" by cross
27 Mar 2020
Together with Norwegian company Simula the Norwegian Institute of Public Health is developping a voluntary app to track users geolocation and slow the spread of Covid-19. Running in the background, the app will collect GPS and Bluetooth location data and store them on a server for 30 days. If a user
27 Mar 2020
Authorities in Montenegro have published on a government website lists of individuals who are in mandatory self-isolation after returning home from abroad. The lists, structured by municipality, include full name, isolation date, and hometown. The government made the decision to do this after
27 Mar 2020
An Accra High Court has ruled that the National Identification Authority can continue registering Ghanaians after two citizens filed a case arguing that continued registration violates the social distancing directive issued by president Akufo-Addo. However, a different division of the High Court
27 Mar 2020
The company that makes the Natural Cycles women’s fertility app has added n optional service to allow users to track Covid-19 symptoms as well as positive and negative tests. As part of its fertility service, the app already takes each user’s basal body temperature daily; enabling the additional
27 Mar 2020
From our partners from the Defenders Coalition: The civil society’s Police Reforms Working Group, comprised of twenty national human rights organisations, condemn the unnecessary and excessive use of force by Kenya Police Service officers yesterday at the Likoni Ferry Crossing, Mombasa. The police
27 Mar 2020
As employees shift to working from home, their employers are buying and installing software to monitor them in their new location. Companies such as InterGuard, Time Doctor, Teramind, VeriClock, innerActiv, ActivTrak, and Hubstaff provide a combination of screen monitoring and productivity metrics
27 Mar 2020
After the British government announced a national lockdown, Derbyshire Police used drones to capture footage of people rambling, walking their dogs, and taking photos in the Peak District. The move was widely criticised as heavy-handed and counter-productive; however, the government followed up by
27 Mar 2020
Civil Society advocates, including PI, expressed their dissaproval of a letter from the Colombian Data Protection Authority, which was intending to give a blank exception to the government in relation with handling the pandemic. Link (in Spanish): https://web.karisma.org.co/organizaciones-de-la
26 Mar 2020
The consumer and market trends insight company StatSocial announced Crisis Insights, which it claims tracks rapidly changing consumer audience dynamics to help US brands and CMOs respond effectively to the ongoing coronavirus epidemic and economic slowdown. StatSocial's Silhouette social data
26 Mar 2020
The UK's National Health Service is collaborating with Palantir to launch a data platform that will track the movement of critical staff and materials; it will, for the first time, give ministers a dashboard showing the first-ever comprehensive view of the entire health care system. The data
26 Mar 2020
Bulgarian police forces have been authorised to request and obtain metadata from citizens' private communications from telephone and Internet operators. The powers are reportedly to be used to monitor those under compulsory quarantine, and will allow police to track their movement as well as
26 Mar 2020
The free app Testeate, developed by the company Adrómeda in collaboration with the Association of Information and Communication Technologies of Mar del Plata (ATICMA) and the Chamber of Software and Computer Services Companies of Argentina (CESSI) and launched in the Municipality of General
26 Mar 2020
In a widely circulated animated heat map, the geospatial visualisation company Tectonix GEO in partnership with the location technology company X-Mode used the secondary locations of anonymised mobile devices that were active on a single beach in in Ft Lauderdale, FL during spring break to show how
26 Mar 2020
On the second day of India's nationwide shutdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Karnataka government published the home addresses of quarantined residents, as a deterrent to breaking the rules. The list included individuals who had flown in from a foreign country and been asked to stay indoors
26 Mar 2020
The Northamptonshire Police reported a surge in calls from people reporting their neighbours for exercising more than once a day, holding barbecues in their back yards, or failing to cough into a tissue. Nick Adderley said his officers will issue penalty notices if necessary, but thought it
26 Mar 2020
Indonesian Ministry of Communication and Informatics/KOMINFO official website) On Thursday, 26 March 2020, the Indonesian Minister of Communication and Informatics, Johnny G. Plate, issued the Ministerial Decree No. 159/2000 to facilitate the cooperation between the Government and telecommunication
26 Mar 2020
The UK's Home Office has granted police in England new powers to enforce lockdown rules for six months, to be reviewed every three weeks. The police can now: order people to disperse or leave an area; ensure parents are doing all they can to top their children from breaking the rules; issue a £60
25 Mar 2020
South Africa's Communications Minister, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, has stated that telecommunications operators in the country have agreed to provide location data to identify how many people have been infected in a particular area. The Government has broad powers under a national state of disaster
25 Mar 2020
A web form to screen COVID-19 cases developed by the Mexico City government collects a wide range of personal information such as name, age, telephone number, home address, social network username, and cellphone number. The privacy notice establishes that such data may be transferred to a vast array
25 Mar 2020
According to information collected by Le Temps, telco Swisscom will use SIM card geolocation data to communicate to federal authorities when more than 20 phones are detected in an 100 square meters area. Gathering of more than 5 people are forbidden in Switzerland since March 21. Data collected by
25 Mar 2020
8 europeans telecoms providers (Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom, Orange,Telefonica, Telecom Italia , Telenor, Telia and A1 Telekom Austria) have agreed to share mobile phone location data with the European Commission to track the spread of the coronavirus. The Commission said it would use anonymsed data
25 Mar 2020
The European Commission urged Europe's telecoms giants, including Deutsche Telekom and Orange, to share their users' mobile data streams from across the region to help predict the spread of the coronavirus "for the common good". In a letter in response, Dutch Renew MEP Sophie In't Veld stressed that
25 Mar 2020
On March 24 the German Bundestag passed a comprehensive amendment to the Infection Protection Act that authorises the Federal Ministry of Health to implement measures for medical care without the consent of the Federal Council. These include the ability to impose curfews and travel restrictions
25 Mar 2020
A newly-enacted Slovakian law, inspired by similar laws in Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan, allows the country's Public Health Office to use location data from mobile phones to track people ordered to quarantine to ensure they are not breaking the rules. The angry public response on privacy
25 Mar 2020
Israel intends to deploy a cellphone tracking system developed in Taiwan by Chunghwa Telecom, which launched it on February 1 in Taiwan, where it was used to track the subscribers of Taiwan's five network operators. To begin, Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control compiled a list of people who need to
24 Mar 2020
The Ministry of Administration and Local Self-Government of the Republic of Srpska, an entity within Bosnia and Herzegovina, published the full and hometowns of the first 30 people who broke quarantine on March 23. The move was condemned by the Initiative for Monitoring the European Integration of
24 Mar 2020
To contain the coronavirus, Vietnam focused on aggressive contact tracing, forced quarantines for all people arriving in the country, cancelling all foreign flights, conscripting medical students and retired doctors and nurses, instituting surveillance, and mobilising medical and military personnel
24 Mar 2020
After police officers in Paraguay posted videos of themselves punishing people who have been caught breaking quarantine on social media, Paraguayans expressed outrage over their actions. The punishments seen in the videos, which were recorded and shared by the officers themselves, include
24 Mar 2020
The success of South Korea's efforts to combat the coronavirus without a national lockdown and without suspending civil rights depended in part on preparation put in place after the 2015 MERS epidemic and in part on the country's network of private testing labs, which enabled the country to quickly
24 Mar 2020
In a partnership with G3 Global Berhad, a system combining thermal scanning technology and facial recognition from SenseTime has been put in place at Malaysia's King's Palace. The combination is intended to trigger alerts, as well as detect and identify people even when they're wearing face masks in
24 Mar 2020
Estonia's Government Crisis Commission has instructed the state statistical office, Statistics Estonia, to use mobile geolocation data from companies such as Telia, Elisa, and Tele 2 in order to study people's movements to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Statistics Estonia hoped to launch the
24 Mar 2020
Researchers at Germany's Robert Koch Institute and Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute are working on an app that uses Bluetooth connections between smartphones and is compliant with GDPR to anonymously save the distance and duration of contact between people on the smartphone to make it possible to
24 Mar 2020
Managed from a purpose-built coronavirus control centre, Moscow's network of 100,000 cameras equipped with facial recognition technology is being used to ensure that anyone placed under quarantine stays off the streets. Officials claim the centre can also be used to track international arrivals and
24 Mar 2020
A BBC article captures the story of a student living in Taiwan under quarantine, who reports that when his battery on his phone ran out, within an hour four different local administrative units contacted him; and a patrol was dispatched to verify his location; and a text was sent that the government
24 Mar 2020
The Israeli Ministry of Health's mobile app, "The Shield", is intended to alert users if they have been at a location in Israel at the same time as a known COVID-19 patient. The app, which is available for both Android and iOS, works by collecting the GPS and WiFi network (SSID) information of a
24 Mar 2020
When the phone belonging to an American University student in Taiwan, who was subject to 14 days' quarantine after returning from Europe, ran out of battery power, in less than hour he had received phone calls from four different local administrative units, a text message notifying him he would be
24 Mar 2020
Our partners from Internet Lab in Brazil started a series of podcasts to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 in the country. They are all recorded and available in the website (in Portuguese). Link: https://www.internetlab.org.br/pt/noticias/antivirus-um-programa-para-discutir-a-tecnologia-direitos-e-a
24 Mar 2020
A 13-year-old girl who travelled into Hong Kong from New York and was ordered to quarantine and issued with a wristband was spotted dining with her uncle in a Japanese restaurant by another diner, who video recorded her and posted the clip to social media, where it went viral. She and several others
24 Mar 2020
In Jojutla, a municipality in the southern state of Morelos, the government is using drones, normally used for security tasks such as reducing homicides, to surveille gatherings in public parks and plazas and tell people to go home, at the same time distributing hand sanitiser gel and face masks on
24 Mar 2020
After Pakistani residents queried whether messages labelled "CoronaALERT" sent out via SMS were legitimate, telecom authorities confirmed that it was authentic, being sent to selected individuals at the request of the Ministry of Health under the Digital Parkistan programme. Individuals were chosen
24 Mar 2020
The Guatemalan government is using the app Alerta Guate to spread public health information, which was created by the Chicago-registered company In-telligent LLC. The app is allowed to collect each user's email address, social media account handles, age, personal interests, and geographic location
24 Mar 2020
A day after John Tory, the mayor of the City of Toronto, told thousands of attendees at an online event hosted by TechTO that the city was gathering cellphone location data from telecoms in order to identify areas where residents were still congregating despite the city's social distancing rules, he
24 Mar 2020
Norway's state research and development company, Simula Research Laboratory, in collaboration with the Institute of Public Health, is working to develop technical solutions to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Code discovered on Github and later removed included examples of how the researchers
23 Mar 2020
The Uganda Communications Commission announced on March 22 that it would crack down on people spreading fake videos and misinformation about the novel coronavirus through social media, noting that this behaviour is illegal under the Computer Misuse Act, the Data Protection and Privacy Act, and other
23 Mar 2020
Under a new protocol, international passengers arriving at Lime's Jorge Chavez International Airport or by ship at Callao Port, is referred to medical staff if they are arriving from places with confirmed cases, even if they are asymptomatic. Passengers who show symptoms in transit are transferred
23 Mar 2020
Argentina's Public Prosecutor's Office will start installing an app on the smartphones of those who violate government-ordered quarantine in the cities of Santa Fé and Rosario. The app will be installed by the province's Criminal Investigation Agency to track those who are under criminal
23 Mar 2020
The Indian medical AI start-up Qure.ai has released qScout, an AI-powered "virtual care platform". Intended to help governments, hospitals, and clinics, the qScout app is meant to identify high-risk individuals, assist with contact tracing, facilitate remote triage, read chest X-rays to identify
23 Mar 2020
The Dutch coronavirus containment measures introduced on March 23 were in line with many other countries: gatherings banned until June 1 except for funerals and weddings; social distancing; personal services such as nail bars and hairdressers shut down; schools, gyms, fitness centres, and sports
23 Mar 2020
Russian prime minister Mikhail Mishustin has ordered the country's Communications Ministry to develop a system, to be built on analysing specific individuals' geolocation data from telecommunications companies that can track people who have come into contact with those who have tested positive for
23 Mar 2020
The Local Government Association has argued that councils should not have to comply with freedom of information requests during the coronavirus crisis. Greater Manchester police followed suit, saying that police in non-critical roles were being reallocated to operational policing and would not
23 Mar 2020
The Rio de Janeiro City Hall has signed an agreement with telecomunications company TIM to use geolocation data to develop "heat maps" by cross-referencing epidemological hubs with high population density locations. Under the agreement, TIM will pinpoint the movement of its users across Rio de
23 Mar 2020
An Excel file containing complete data pertaining to patients tested for coronavirus in the cities Quetta and Taftan in the the Balochistan region of Pakistan has been circulating in WhatsApp groups about Balochistan. The file contains information such as names, phone numbers, age address and other
23 Mar 2020
Malaysia will use both government-owned drones and drones borrowed from local industries under the direction of the armed forces and on-the-ground police to monitor compliance with the Movement Control Order. Because Malaysia doesn't have enough drones to cover the whole country, they will be
23 Mar 2020
On March 23, Argentina's immigration agency, Dirección Nacional de Migraciones (DNM), announced that anyone arriving in the country would be required to install the free COVID-19 Ministry of Health app on their phone for 14 days to ensure they comply with quarantine rules in order to protect the
23 Mar 2020
Because tracking and limiting the movement of those suspected to be carrying COVID-19 carriers has been a factor in flattening the exponential curve of cases in places like Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea, Professor Marylouise McLaws, a technical advisor to the WHO's Infection Prevention and
23 Mar 2020
Owing to concerns about the possibility of spreading the coronavirus via banknotes and payment cards, Russia has begun testing its Unified Biometric System (EBS) for payments at a selection of grocery stores including Lenta supermarkets. The Russian bank VTB plans a mass roll-out for mid-2020. For
23 Mar 2020
On March 9, SK Telecom began providing South Korea's Gyeongbuk Provincial Police Agency with its Geovision population analysis service and GIRAF platform. The company claims that the combination can analyse mobile geolocation data across the country in real time, create visualisations, and show how
22 Mar 2020
The Greek government issued a ban on all unnecessary traffic from March 23 to April 6 in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Anyone moving around under one of the list of exceptions must carry a police identity card or passport and a certificate of movement, which citizens obtain by filling
22 Mar 2020
After Asian countries used mass surveillance of smartphones to trace contacts and halt the spread of the coronavirus, Western countries such as the UK and Germany are trying to find less-invasive ways to use phones to collect and share data about infections that would work within data privacy laws
21 Mar 2020
The Hungarian government is seeking to extend indefinitely the state of emergency it has declared because of the coronavirus epidemic. The extension, which was debated in the Hungarian parliament on March 23, would allow the government to rule by decree without parliamentary approval for as long as
21 Mar 2020
The US Department of Justice has asked Congress for the ability to ask chief judges to detain people indefinitely without trial during emergencies as one of a number of new powers the department is seeking during the coronavirus crisis. The DoJ also wants Congress to pause the statute of limitations
21 Mar 2020
The self-testing web app issued by Argentina's Secretariat of Public Innovation asks for national ID number, email and phone as mandatory fields in order to submit the test. The Android version requires numerous permissions: calendar, contacts, geolocation data (both network-based and GPS)
21 Mar 2020
Albania deployed the army for a planned 40 hours to enforce a curfew that the country initiated on March 21 to control the spread of COVID-19 after citizens continued to openly ignore the orders to stay at home. Although the country had only 76 confirmed cases at the time, it was concerned about the
21 Mar 2020
Technology such as Hong Kong's electronic monitoring bracelets, used to ensure that people do not break their mandated quarantine, may appear reasonable during a pandemic, but could be problematic if deployed widely and used to identify those who have joined anti-government protests. The same
20 Mar 2020
On March 20, the Peruvian government introduced a website where citizens can retrieve the results of tests for COVID-19. The site asks only for the patient to fill in their National ID number and a simple captcha, making it easy for unauthorised parties to access others' results and put people at
20 Mar 2020
India has begun stamping the hands of people arriving at airports in the states of Maharashtra and Karnataka to specify the date until which they must remain in quarantine. The government is also using airline and railway reservation data to track suspected infections and find hand-stamped people
20 Mar 2020
The new Singaporean app, TraceTogether, developed by the Government Technology Agency in collaboration with the Ministry of Health was launched on March 20 after eight weeks of development. The app, which can be downloaded by anyone with a Singapore mobile number and a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone
20 Mar 2020
Among the Chinese companies making efforts to help the country respond to the coronavirus are the technology giants Alibaba, Baidu, ByteDance, Tencent, Xiaomi, and Foxconn. In order to fight misinformation, Baidu created a map layer on top of its standard Map App that shows real-time locations of
20 Mar 2020
To counter the many rumours, fake news, and hoaxes spreading in Myanmar, the country's Ministry of Health and Sports launched a website in collaboration with state and regional governments with videos about the virus, the latest data, and updates on the latest number of cases and lab results in
19 Mar 2020
Four members of the Council of Europe - Romania, Latvia, Moldova, and Armenia - have activated Article 15 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which allows derogations in cases of public emergency. Derogation allows Member States to take measures to the extent required by the situation as
19 Mar 2020
Hakob Arshakyan, Armenia's minister of the high technology industry, has convened a research group comprising experts in IT and AI has been convened to collect and analyse data on the spread of coronavirus, compare it with the data collected by international partners, and develop forecasts. The
19 Mar 2020
Four members of the Council of Europe - Romania, Latvia, Moldova, and Armenia - have activated Article 15 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which allows derogations in cases of public emergency. Derogation allows Member States to take measures to the extent required by the situation as
19 Mar 2020
Researchers at the University of Oxford are working with the UK government on an app similar to the smartphone tracking system China developed to alert people who have come in contact with someone infected with the coronavirus. The British app, which would be associated with the country's National
19 Mar 2020
Facebook's scientists are analysing location data about compliance with social distancing recommendations in various countries using information from a private vault of location information its apps have collected. The analysis shows that only "very modest" changes in habits in the US, France, and
19 Mar 2020
BT, owner of UK mobile operator EE, is in talks with the government about using its phone location and usage data to monitor whether coronavirus limitation measures such as asking the public to stay at home are working. The information EE supplies would be delayed by 12 to 24 hours, and would
19 Mar 2020
The Chinese Communist Party has worked to control the narrative and deflect blame during the coronavirus crisis by drawing on its state and CCP-owned media to disseminate content via its English-language Facebook pages and Twitter feed (even though these platforms are banned in China). China has
19 Mar 2020
As governments look into surveillance, geolocation and biometric facial recognition to contain the coronavirus, even if they violate user data privacy, the controversial facial recognition company Clearview AI is allegedly negotiating a partnership with state agencies to monitor infected people and
19 Mar 2020
The Polish government has developed the free Home Quarantine app for both iPhone and Android, which allows the police to check that individuals do not break quarantine; those who do may be fined up to PLN 5,000 and also offers support to those who are quarantined. Once users activate the app by
19 Mar 2020
Four members of the Council of Europe - Romania, Latvia, Moldova, and Armenia - have activated Article 15 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which allows derogations in cases of public emergency. Derogation allows Member States to take measures to the extent required by the situation as
19 Mar 2020
The Mumbai police have been asked by the civic governing body to track the movements of people arriving at Mumbai airport through the GPS location of their phones. Arrivals at the airport in Mumbai are also being stamped with “Proud to protect Mumbaikars. Home quarantined” with the date until which
19 Mar 2020
In response to a case brought by the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (Adalah), the Arab Joint List, and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Israeli Supreme Court issued a temporary injunction on March 19 limiting the the state's and the Shin Bet security service's use of
19 Mar 2020
Mobile network operator O2 is providing aggregated data to the UK government to analyse anonymous smartphone location data in order to show people are following the country's social distancing guidelines, particularly in London, which to date accounts for about 40% of the UK's confirmed cases and 30
19 Mar 2020
The Serb-dominated Republika Srpska, one of two entities that make up Bosnia and Herzegovina, is introducing fines of €500 to €1,500 (individuals) or €3,000 to €9,000 for spreading "panic and disorder" by publishing false news about the coronavirus outbreak in the media and on social networks
19 Mar 2020
Four members of the Council of Europe - Romania, Latvia, Moldova, and Armenia - have activated Article 15 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which allows derogations in cases of public emergency. Derogation allows Member States to take measures to the extent required by the situation as
19 Mar 2020
As governments look into surveillance, geolocation and biometric facial recognition to contain the coronavirus, even if they violate user data privacy, the controversial facial recognition company Clearview AI is allegedly negotiating a partnership with state agencies to monitor infected people and
18 Mar 2020
The identities of Montenegro's first two confirmed COVID-19 patients were published by social media users, including photos of one of the patients and her family, leading to online abuse based on their ethnicity and religious beliefs. Source: https://balkaninsight.com/2020/03/18/montenegrin
18 Mar 2020
On March 19, the Peruvian government instituted a daily curfew from 8pm to 5am, which applies to all but those working to provide essential services. Members of the print and broadcast press must carry their special permits, badges, and ID cards, and those requiring urgent medical care are allowed
18 Mar 2020


 

According to a company announcement, Telepower Communication (Telpo), a leading Chinese manufacturer of smart point-of-sale systems and intelligent hardware, has integrated into its terminals new features to support a wide variety of contactless use cases. The company’s family of terminals for
18 Mar 2020
Kinsa Health, which has sold or given away more than 1 million internet-connected thermometers to household covering 2 million people, finds that the maps it creates showing the difference between expected (based on years of data the company has collected) and reported levels of fever may act as an
18 Mar 2020
Hong Kong is issuing electronic tracker wristbands to people under compulsory home quarantine to ensure they do not go out. The wristbands are accompanied by a mandatory smartphone app that shares their location with the government via messaging platforms such as WeChat and WhatsApp. Upon arriving
18 Mar 2020
In emergency legislation, the government of Norway proposed to exempt itself from current laws other than the Constitution and human rights so that it could issue new rules and regulations without needing Parliamentary debate even if they conflict with other laws. MPs may intervene if a third of
18 Mar 2020
In a statement, Vodafone said it is "producing an aggregated and anonymous heat map for the Lombardy region in Italy to help the authorities to better understand population movements in order to help thwart the spread of COVID-19." The company offered to help governments develop insights based on
18 Mar 2020
The CovPY Auto Reporte project is an auto-reporting system created by Penguin Academy in the hope of smoothing the peak impact of the pandemic on the Paraguayan health system. It allows anyone to access it and report their symptoms and get quick feedback what steps to take next as well as generate
18 Mar 2020
After Singapore’s Ministry of Health made information about victims public, and a developer turned the information into an interactive map. The map was discontinued on March 18 because the volume of cases had outstripped the developer's limits. Source: https://sgwuhan.xose.net/
18 Mar 2020
The Romanian government has formally notified the Council of Europe under Article 15, paragraph 3 of the ECHR of the country's state of emergency decree, noting that some of the measures being taken involve derogations from the obligations under the Convention. Source: https://rm.coe.int
18 Mar 2020
Our partners from IPANDETEC in Panamá wrote about privacy and personal data in the context of the COVID-19 response, stating that throughout Central America, data protection laws and patient privacy lean towards respecting their privacy before the scientific interest of their cases. Link: https:/
18 Mar 2020
Technology entrepreneurs within Belgium would like to introduce a health code app similar to China's Alipay Health Code that would control individuals' movements based on their health status. The government has engaged privacy experts from the Belgian data protection authority and Ghent University
17 Mar 2020
On March 17, after declaring a state of emergency an ordering everyone to stay at home, the Peruvian government began requiring a special authorisation for street travel. Workers in a the categories specified in Article 4 of the Supreme Decree must obtain the authorisation via a government website
17 Mar 2020
A task force at the Italian Ministry of Innovation, in collaboration with the University of Pavia to leverage big data technologies to deal with COVID-19, after the WHO advised governments that lockdowns alone are not enough, and that testing, isolation, and contact tracing are crucial. The effort
17 Mar 2020
The Austrian telecom operator A1 has voluntarily provided the government with "anonymized" location data of its customers for the first two Saturdays in March. The data shows that citizens have significantly reduced their social contacts. After critics expressed privacy concerns, the company issued
17 Mar 2020
Metrolinx, the public transport agency for the Canadian province of Ontario says that, on request, it gave Toronto Public Health contact information associated with registered Presto payment cards used on specific trips, after a 40-year-old man was diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19). The agency
17 Mar 2020
The Paraguayan Minister of Defense, Bernardino Soto Estigarribia, announced that from March 17 onward restrictions on movement and crowds would be enforced by the military along with the police forces. The minister said it should not be thought of as a violation of human rights because the military
17 Mar 2020
Taiwan, linked by direct flights to Wuhan, moved to contain the virus as soon as reports of the Wuhan outbreak emerged. At the end of January, it suspended flights from China, and integrated its national health database with its immigration and customs information in order to trace potential cases
17 Mar 2020
Aided by its small size, Singapore's contact tracing efforts were a key element of controlling the virus's spread; detectives used CCTV footage to locate the contacts of more than 6,000 people. Singapore also contacts individuals required to self-isolate several times a day and requires them to send
17 Mar 2020
Athena Security, which previously sold a system claiming to detect weapons in video feeds, is marketing "artificially intelligent thermal cameras" that the company claims can detect fevers and send an alert to the client that they may be carrying the coronavirus, and claims that its Fever Detection
17 Mar 2020
Russia has set up a coronavirus information centre to to monitor social media for misinformation about the coronavirus and spot empty supermarket shelves using a combination of surveillance cameras and AI. The centre also has a database of contacts and places of work for 95% of those under mandatory
17 Mar 2020
Ministers have permitted the Shin Bet security service to "use the cellular phone data of carriers of the disease to retrace their steps and identify anyone they may have infected", and will relay the information to the Health Ministry, which will send a message to those who were within two meters
17 Mar 2020
Using mobile phone data to verify the movements of their owners, the Italian region of Lombardy found that between February 20, when the first COVID-19 case was discovered, and March 10, movement by its 2 million inhabitants dropped by just under 60%. Lombardy has also used cell phone data, obtained
17 Mar 2020
At the MIT Media lab, Ramesh Raskar is leading a team that includes software engineers at companies such as Facebook and Uber to develop the free and open source app Private Kit: Safe Paths. The app is intended to share encrypted information between phones in the network without going through a
17 Mar 2020
The German mobile operator Deutsche Telekom announced in a press conference on RKI Live that it had passed on, anonymised, its users' movement data to the Robert-Koch Institute to study the extent to which the population would follow the government's restrictions. RKI president Lothar Wieler said
17 Mar 2020
The US Department of Health and Human Services has announced it will waive penalties for violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which protects patient data privacy. HHS argued that in the nationwide emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, greater latitude is needed
17 Mar 2020
A task force at the Italian Ministry of Innovation, in collaboration with the University of Pavia to leverage big data technologies to deal with COVID-19, after the WHO advised governments that lockdowns alone are not enough, and that testing, isolation, and contact tracing are crucial. The effort
17 Mar 2020
The coronavirus action plan announced on March 3, alongside many measures for managing the NHS in the crisis, will also allow the Investigatory Powers Commissioner to appoint judicial commissioners (JCs) on a temporary basis in the event that there are insufficient JCs available to operate the
17 Mar 2020
The Ecuadorian government has authorised tracking mobile phones via GPS satellite to ensure that citizens do not break mandatory quarantine after six violators were identified. Source: https://www.ecuadortv.ec/noticias/covid-19/romo-vigilancia-epidemiologico-covid19-? Writer: Ecuador TV Publication
17 Mar 2020
Thailand's National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC) provided a SIM card to every foreigner and Thai who had travelled from countries that have have been designated as "high risk" for COVID-19 infections (at the time, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Italy, and Macau). According to
17 Mar 2020
Using mobile phone data to verify the movements of their owners, the Italian region of Lombardy found that between February 20, when the first COVID-19 case was discovered, and March 10, movement by its 2 million inhabitants dropped by just under 60%. Lombardy has also used cell phone data, obtained
17 Mar 2020
The Israeli compnay NSO Group, best known for the spyware it sells governments and has been used to target journalists and advocates, says it has developed a product aimed at analysing data to map people’s movements to identify who they’ve come in contact with, which can then be used to stop the
16 Mar 2020
Three years ago, the Alphabet subsidiary Verily developed a software platform, Project Baseline, to run clinical trials on a group of volunteers who agree to share their medical data with a group of researchers at pharmaceutical companies and research hospitals. In early March, Verily began
16 Mar 2020
The Indonesian Doctors Association has asked the government to open up the identity of patients who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in order to facilitate contact tracing and improve the efficiency of efforts to prevent further spread, arguing that in an emergency like this the public
16 Mar 2020
Spanish police are using drones to warn people to stay indoors apart from necessary trips after seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases. Human officers control the drones and relay via radio warnings to people to leave public parks and return home. Source: https://www.businessinsider.com/spanish-police
16 Mar 2020
The presidential decree declaring a health emergency in Paraguay empowers the Ministry of Public Health to order "general preventive isolation" from 8:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m, with exceptions for those doing vital work such as delivering food or transportation. The Ministry of the Interior and its
16 Mar 2020
Peru has suspended constitutional rights such as freedom of movement and assembly, although the government has guaranteed the operation of supermarkets, pharmacies, banks, basic services, and the transportation of merchandise. Source: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-latam
16 Mar 2020
The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has authorised the country's internal security agency to use a previously secret tranche of mobile phone geolocation data, gathered to combat terrorism, to retrace the movements of individuals with confirmed cases of the coronavirus and identify people
15 Mar 2020
On Wednesday, the government of Madrid will launch a free app to track COVID-19 cases similar to those developed in Asian countries such as South Korea, China, and Taiwan. The development is being carried out at no charge by developers from Google, Telefónica, Ferrovial, Goggo Network, Carto
15 Mar 2020
The Thai Tech Startup Association, Department of Disease Control (Ministry of Public Health), Digital Economy Promotion Agency (Ministry of Digital Economy and Society), and National Innovation Agency have developed a questionnaire on an app which as adverised on the Thai Tech Startup Associaiton
15 Mar 2020
Our partners from the Foundation for Media Alternatives in Philippines reported different ways in which the COVID-19 is impacting public health and privacy rights. Link: https://www.fma.ph/2020/03/15/public-health-and-privacy-amid-covid-19-the-fma-digital-rights-report/
15 Mar 2020
US government agencies are considering a range of tracking and surveillance technologies as part of efforts to control the spread of the novel coronavirus. These include: geolocation tracking and facial recognition systems to analyse photos, both to enable contact tracing. Palantir is working with
15 Mar 2020
Among the emergency measures announced by Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic, the military will guard hospitals and police will monitor those in quarantine or self-isolation for 14 or 28 days, who could face jail terms of up to three years for violating the rules. Source: https://www.reuters.com
14 Mar 2020
On March 14, the Peruvian government set up a website for individuals to check their symptoms so they can be directed towards sources of help. The web form asks for ID number, phone, email and home address. Source: https://www.gob.pe/coronavirus Writer: Peruvian government Publication: Peruvian
14 Mar 2020
On March 14, Romanian president Klaus Iohannis announced a state of emergency to make it possible to allocate new resources for crisis management, and urged the public to follow isolation guidelines and hygiene rules. The Parliament must approve within five days, and the state of emergency lasts 30
14 Mar 2020
On March 14 a group of immigrant advocacy groups wrote to the government asking for the Home Office to release all 1,500 to 2,000 detainees in order to protect them from a coronavirus outbreak in the UK's seven removal centres and two short-term holding centres.. On March 21, the Home Office said it
13 Mar 2020
Our partners from Digital Rights Foundation in Pakistan wrote a piece analysing cases of privacy violations, misinformation, hate speech and other cases. As they said, the situation with regards to the Coronavirus is still developing in the country and Digital Rights Foundation, are keeping an eye
12 Mar 2020
The Belgian Minister of Public Health has approved a programme under which telephone companies Proximus and Telenet will transfer some of their their data to the private third-party company Dalberg Data Insights in order to help combat the coronavirus epidemic; Orange has also agreed "in principle"
11 Mar 2020
Frisco, TX-based MTX Group is collaborating with the New York State Department of Health in deploying a coronavirus-monitoring and messaging system enabling New York State to monitor travellers, physicians, and others who come into close contact with anyone with symptoms. The application asks users
11 Mar 2020
A Hamburg geotracking startup called Ubilabs is working with the Hannover School of Medicine on a data analysis platform that could track people who have tested positive for the coronavirus and their contacts, Der Tagesspiegel reported on Tuesday; this type of tracking would require individuals'
11 Mar 2020
Taiwan's response to the coronavirus has kept the country's level of cases extremely low. Building on its experience from the 2003 SARS outbreak, the country immediately responded when the first news of the outbreak in China appeared with numerous measures that leveraged its national insurance data
11 Mar 2020
A review of European privacy laws considers whether the tracking and monitoring methods China used to shut down the COVID-19 epidemic are in compliance with GDPR. The French data protection authority CNIL says employers are not allowed to take mandatory temperature readings from employees or
10 Mar 2020
Technology companies are struggling to cope with the flood of misinformation spreading across the internet, both on social media sites and on the open web, where 4,000 new websites have been created since the beginning of the year that include "coronavirus" in their title and 3% of which are
10 Mar 2020
After the Iranian government produced the AC19 Android app, intended to help people self-diagnose rather than going to a hospital, Google pulled it from the Play Store apparently suspecting that the app made the misleading claim that it could detect COVID-19 infections although it is also true that
09 Mar 2020
Colombia's has launched the free, Android-only, prevention-focused Colombia-Coronapp developed by the National Health Institute (INS) to help identify and eradicate the virus across the country, as well provide centralisation and transparency. Besides their basic information, users are asked to say
06 Mar 2020
The "safety guidance texts" sent by health authorities and district offices in South Korea are causing information overload and have included embarrassing revelations about infected people's private lives. A text may include, for example, a link to trace the movements of people who have recently
06 Mar 2020
Despite warnings that airport screening will only delay but not stop disease outbreaks, in early March US vice-president Mike Pence pledged "100% screening" on direct flights from Italy and South Korea to the United States. Source: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/03/why-airport-screening-wont
06 Mar 2020
With 6,300 COVID-19 cases and more than 40 reported deaths, the South Korean government launched a smarphone app (Android first, iPhone due on March 20) to monitor citizens on lockdown as part of its "maximum" action to contain the outbreak. The app keeps patients in touch with care workers and uses
06 Mar 2020
Although the alerts about contacts with people infected by the coronavirus sent out via SMS by the South Korean government do not include names, the information included about people who tested positive for coronavirus, and their past locations can be revealingly detailed in some cases. Those who
06 Mar 2020
China's airport screening, which includes scanning all arriving passengers for fever using “noncontact thermal imaging” since late January and requiring passengers to report their health status on arrival, look reassuring but won't stop the spread of the novel coronavirus because experience with
05 Mar 2020
In a rare departure from personalisation, Facebook announced that it had begun inserting a box into its news feed directing users to the Centers for Disease Control’s page about COVID-19, potentially driving many millions of users to reliable information from an authoritative source. Facebook also
05 Mar 2020
Twitter announced that searching for COVID-19 will take you to a page featuring recent stories from public health organizations and credible mainstream news sources. The search takes common misspellings into account. The company also said it would take a zero-tolerance approach to platform
05 Mar 2020
WhatsApp is being flooded with fake cures, false information about how the illness is transmitted, and coronavirus conspiracy theories, and has become a vector for spreading panic and misinformation around the world, particularly in countries such as Nigeria, Singapore, Brazil, Pakistan, and Ireland
04 Mar 2020
The first two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Indonesia and their neighbours became the targets of media coverage and social media abuse after their personal details were spread via WhatsApp and other social media soon after the President announced the positive tests results - before anyone told the
01 Mar 2020
Software on smartphones dictates whether an individual should be quarantined. Chinese citizens in 200 cities, beginning with Hangzhou, are required to install the Alipay Health Code app, developed by Hangzhou's local government with the help of Alipay owner Ant Financial, on their smartphones. After
01 Mar 2020
An Argentinian crowdsourcing website is collecting information on flights with passengers who were reported as testing positive for COVID-19. Users are asked to enter their email address and the date, airline, and flight number, and tick a box to indicate that someone on their flight was infected
01 Mar 2020
Software on smartphones dictates whether an individual should be quarantined. Chinese citizens in 200 cities, beginning with Hangzhou, are required to install the Alipay Health Code app, developed by Hangzhou's local government with the help of Alipay owner Ant Financial, on their smartphones. After
01 Mar 2020
A group of independent developers in Argentina started CoTrack, a public crowdsourced effort to develop an app to track and slow the spread of the virus. CoTrack registers each user's geographic movements and looks for times when they are close to people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19. When
27 Feb 2020
A document awaiting approval from the federal authorities outlines the measures Russia may need to adopt in the event of a widespread COVID-19 outbreak. In "emergency mode". The proposal's Plan A allows for cancelling all international sports, cultural, scientific, and social events in Moscow
26 Feb 2020
A new surveillance system to detect cases of COVID-19 in England was established by Public Health England (PHE) and the NHS to strengthen existing systems and to prepare for and prevent wider transmission of the virus. Some NHS hospitals have been asked to take part in the plan, which involves
26 Feb 2020
Facebook is providing researchers at Harvard University’s School of Public Health and National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan "aggregated and anonymized" mobility data and high resolution population density maps to help inform their forecasting models for the spread of the virus as part of our
26 Feb 2020
Facebook announced on its blog that it was providing researchers at Harvard University’s School of Public Health and National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan with aggregated and anonymised mobility data and high resolution population density maps to help inform their forecasting models for the spread
24 Feb 2020
Russian authorities are using surveillance cameras, facial recognition systems, and geolocation to enforce a two-week quarantine regime affecting 2,500 people. Chinese citizens are banned from entering Russia; Russians and citizens of other countries who arrive from China are required to go through
22 Feb 2020
The Hong Kong Department of Health has asked the police to deploy its computerised Major Incident Investigation and Disaster Support System in order to trace the contacts of patients infected by the novel coronavirus. The request for the system, which was used during the SARS epidemic in 2003, came
12 Feb 2020
In mid-February the Federal Register published new CDC rules, which came into interim effect on February 7, under which airlines are required to collect the name and contact information of all passengers and crew arriving in the United States on international flights, and to transmit this
06 Feb 2020
A phone-tracking system used by SAPOL for criminal investigations was used to better understand where a coronavirus-infected 60-year-old couple, who had travelled from Wuhan to visit relatives, roamed in Adelaide in order to identify people who might have been exposed, according to the South
01 Feb 2020
The UK exams regulator, Ofqual, awarded a £46,000 contract for less than a month’s work providing “urgent communications support” to the small research agency Public First, which is owned by James Frayne, a close associate of prime ministerial special advisor Dominic Cummings, and Rachel Wolf, a
31 Jan 2020
After 195 US citizens were repatriated from Wuhan, China in January they were placed in quarantine without warning in a cordoned-off section of the Air Force Research Base in California's Mojave Desert. The legal position of this and other similar quarantines is unclear, as the Centers for Disease
News & Analysis

Marking International Health Day amidst a global pandemic gives us a chance to reflect on how we are responding to Covid-19 through the use of data and technology.

The Atlantic’s COVID Tracking Project, in collaboration with the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research, has begun gathering up-to-date race and ethnicity data relating to COVID-19 in the US. Nationwide, black people are dying at a rate 2.5 times higher than white people. Different
When Google and Apple announced their joint platform for contact tracing, the companies said the system would not track users’ locations. By mid-July, the resulting apps had been downloaded more than 20 million times in companies such as Germany and Switzerland. However, in order for Bluetooth
The French telecom operator Orange is repurposing its 2013 Flux Vision, which allowed cities and tourist destinations to see their visitors' travel flows, to answer European Commissioner Thierry Breton's call for the EU's mobile operators to provide their location data to fight the pandemic through
Fifty experts have collaborated to produce best practice advice for wastewater surveillance to detect the genetic signal of SARS-CoV-2, a technique which is rapidly evolving but has been shown in tests to be am effective in acting as an early indicator of disease emergence and helping track disease
An “intelligence note” found in a trove of law enforcement documents known as BlueLeaks shows that the US Department of Homeland Security fears that face masks are breaking law enforcement facial recognition. The note came from the post-9/11 Minnesota Fusion Center and was distributed on May 26
A nationwide US study plans to examine the impact on employer surveillance of the shift of workers from on-site office environments to working in their homes. The authors intend to highlight worker (dis)comfort and concerns. Source: https://covid19research.ssrc.org/grantee/how-covid-19-is-changing
Canadian federal, provincial, and territorial governments across have put in place numerous emergency measures to curtail behaviour in order to curb the spread of COVID-19. The orders include placing people under quarantine, limiting gatherings, closing schools and businesses, barring most visits to
The UK government, in collaboration with universities, water companies, and public research bodies, is preparing to launch a national research programme to develop an early warning system for future waves of COVID-19 by detecting the coronavirus in sewage. About half of those infected with SARS-CoV
The non-profit Resolve to Save Lives, led by Tom Frieden, director of the CDC in the Obama administration, finds that six months after the first coronavirus cases in the US most states are failing to report crucial information needed to track and control the spread of COVID-19. Among the issues
A study describes the data transmitted to backend servers by the Google/Apple based contact tracing (GAEN) apps in use in Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, and Denmark and finds that the health authority client apps are generally well-behaved from a privacy point of view, although the Irish
Singapore has launched a new FWMOMCare mobile app for workers to record daily symptoms and report their health status. Reporting symptoms prompts the worker to seek medical assistance; a doctor will also be alerted and call the worker within 30 minutes for a teleconsultation. Employers are told to
A remote-controlled yellow and black robot dog built by Boston Dynamics has been deployed in a Singapore central park for a two-week trial in which the dog politely, in a female voice, in English, reminds cyclists and joggers to stay at least one metre apart. Breaking the lockdown rules attracts