The COVID-19 pandemic has led governments to the implementation of mass surveillance measures. Experts fear that this invasion into people’s digital privacy might not be that easy to roll back.
“We at NordVPN agree that all appropriate measures should be taken to stop the pandemic and save people’s lives. But we are also digital privacy advocates. The new surveillance on people affected by COVID-19 undoubtedly restricts some freedoms and rights. What is more, some countries are using surveillance without an appropriate legal basis. That means no one knows how this data is processed or what will happen with it in the future,” says Daniel Markuson, digital privacy expert at NordVPN.
NordVPN is the world’s most advanced VPN service provider, used by over 12 million internet users worldwide. NordVPN provides double VPN encryption, malware blocking, and Onion over VPN.
“The coronavirus pandemic shows that surveillance technology is already here — it’s not something out of sci-fi movies. It’s up to governments to ensure the proper use of these new technologies, as the potential abuse of power could violate human rights,” says Daniel Markuson, digital privacy expert at NordVPN. “Another worrying thing about these surveillance policies is that they don’t have any clear end date. Therefore, this might be deemed as the new normal even after the pandemic ends. Governments must provide a clear exit strategy and define a date when they will cease the monitoring.”
At least 25 countries have implemented digital surveillance over its citizens to combat COVID-19. The methods and scope of monitoring differ in each country. For example, China has forced hundreds of millions to install a “health code” app, which determines whether the user is fit for travel or must stay at home.
In Moscow, citizens will be required to use QR codes for traveling. The Russian government will also employ surveillance cameras and facial recognition technology to ensure people are staying at home.
Europe has followed the Asian example and is copying the tracking apps, as well as employing drones and collecting telecom data.
India is geolocating people’s selfies as well as releasing addresses of the COVID-19 patients.
Israel has implemented surveillance on a national scale. People with suspected or confirmed Coronavirus cases are tracked by mobile phone.
In South Korea, the government sent out detailed messages with travel information of coronavirus-infected people. Although the purpose was to inform on possible contact points, the texts revealed personal details, which, in some cases, were embarrassing. For example, some people had involved in affairs or paid for sex.