COVID-19 apps in Europe violating data protection and privacy

To help deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, governments are developing and rolling out apps related to contact-tracing, symptom-tracking, exposure notification, and quarantine-enforcement. Many governments are not taking data protection and privacy seriously when developing and deploying these apps, and there is a risk of normalising the expanded use of invasive digital surveillance technologies.

The Civil Liberties Union for Europe are using a variety of litigation actions – freedom of information requests, data protection authority complaints, and litigation before domestic/regional courts – to stop the use of COVID-19 apps that do not respect people’s rights to privacy and data protection. They also want to use this litigation to help ensure that impact assessments are carried out in relation to such apps, and that there is more transparency around their development and use.

COVID-19 apps in Europe violating data protection and privacy

Organisation Names

Civil Liberties Union for Europe, with Access Now and member organisations across 12 EU countries

 

Country/Jurisdiction

Bulgaria, Belgium, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Lithuania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Poland

Thematic Areas

Privacy and data protection

Human rights standards in the use and design of technology

Current Status

Ongoing

Grant type

COVID-19 Litigation Fund

Description

To help deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, governments are developing and rolling out apps related to contact-tracing, symptom-tracking, exposure notification, and quarantine-enforcement. Many governments are not taking data protection and privacy seriously when developing and deploying these apps, and there is a risk of normalising the expanded use of invasive digital surveillance technologies.

The Civil Liberties Union for Europe are using a variety of litigation actions – freedom of information requests, data protection authority complaints, and litigation before domestic/regional courts – to stop the use of COVID-19 apps that do not respect people’s rights to privacy and data protection. They also want to use this litigation to help ensure that impact assessments are carried out in relation to such apps, and that there is more transparency around their development and use.

"Many governments are not taking data protection and privacy seriously when developing and deploying these apps"

Strategic Goal

To prevent European governments from using the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext for normalising expanded digital surveillance technologies. To ensure citizens can access public health apps that are not unlawful or unnecessarily intrusive.

Organisation Name

Women’s Link Worldwide

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