Illustrations for Google/Facebook report.

UK: Privacy must not be ‘another casualty’ of the virus

  • Warning comes as Government plans to introduce COVID-19 tracking app
  • Move could ‘open the door to pervasive state surveillance and privacy infringement’ – Kate Allen

UK Government plans to introduce a COVID-19 tracing app with a potentially centralized contract tracing system are deeply concerning and may mean that people’s right to privacy could become “another casualty” of coronavirus, Amnesty International UK warned today.

Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK Director, said:

“We’re extremely concerned that the Government may be planning to route private data through a central database, opening the door to pervasive state surveillance and privacy infringement, with potentially discriminatory effects.

“Ministers should instead be examining decentralized, privacy-preserving models such as those many European governments are pursuing.

“In these extraordinary times, contract tracing apps and other technology could potentially be useful tools in responding to COVID-19, but our privacy and rights must not become another casualty of the virus.

“Contract tracing apps must always be voluntary and without incentives or penalties.”

Public lack confidence in Government’s response

Last week, Amnesty released data showing a lack of public confidence in how the Government is responding to the crisis. Amnesty’s poll revealed that more than three-quarters (78%) of the UK public felt the Government had not been fully transparent in its communications in respect of the crisis. Amnesty has been campaigning for the Government to ensure that the most vulnerable people in society are adequately protected during the coronavirus pandemic – a petition to the Government has now reached almost 25,000 signatures.