• ScreeningA.C.L.U. Warns Against Fever-Screening Tools for Coronavirus

    Airports, office buildings, warehouses and restaurant chains are rushing to install new safety measures like fever-scanning cameras and infrared temperature-sensing guns. But the American Civil Liberties Union warned on Tuesday against using the tools to screen people for possible coronavirus symptoms, saying the devices were often inaccurate, ineffective and intrusive. Natasha Singer writes in the New York Times that in a new report, “Temperature Screening and Civil Liberties During an Epidemic,” the A.C.L.U. said that such technologies could give people a false sense of security, potentially leading them to be less vigilant about health measures like wearing masks or social distancing. The group also cautioned that the push for widespread temperature scans during the pandemic could usher in permanent new forms of surveillance and social control.

     

  • SurveillanceGerman Intelligence Cannot Spy on Foreigners Outside Germany without a Warrant

    The German government must come up with a new law regulating the German intelligence service (BND), after the country’s highest court ruled that the current practice of monitoring telecommunications of foreign citizens at will – that is, without a court warrant — violates constitutionally enshrined press freedoms and the privacy of communications. Until now, the BND had considered foreign nationals living outside Germany essentially fair game, on the assumption that they were not protected by Germany’s constitution.

  • SurveillanceGermany: Revised Domestic Surveillance Bill Submitted to Bundestag

    A draft law to reform Germany’s BfV domestic intelligence agency is to be re-submitted to parliament after long debate. It will allow German domestic intelligence and law enforcement to conduct electronic surveillance of telephone calls and SMS text services, including encrypted “chats” via services such as WhatsApp and Telegram, but will  not allow the use of cyber “Trojan” trawling tools.

  • SurveillanceGovernments Shouldn’t Use “Centralized” Proximity Tracking Technology

    By Bennett Cyphers and Gennie Gebhart

    Companies and governments across the world are building and deploying a dizzying number of systems and apps to fight COVID-19. Many groups have converged on using Bluetooth-assisted proximity tracking for the purpose of exposure notification. Even so, there are many ways to approach the problem, and dozens of proposals have emerged. One way to categorize them is based on how much trust each proposal places in a central authority.

  • Surveillance stateCOVID Is Ushering in a Surveillance State That May Never Be Dismantled

    Is the “new normal” to be a surveillance society, with tracing apps and facial recognition health passports? Philip Johnston writes in The Telegraph that the British government insists not; but if we are hit by a second wave of COVID-19, the temptation to extend the monitoring will be hard to resist.

  • TracingWobbly” Tracing App “Failed” Clinical Safety and Cybersecurity Tests

    The government’s coronavirus contact tracing app has so far failed the tests needed to be included in the NHS app library, HSJ understands. Jasmine Rapson writes in HJS that the app is being trialed on the Isle of Wight this week, ahead of a national rollout later this month. Senior NHS sources told HSJ it had thus far failed all of the tests required for inclusion in the app library, including cyber security, performance and clinical safety. There are also concerns at high levels about how users’ privacy will be protected once they log that they have coronavirus symptoms, and become “traceable,” and how this information will be used. Senior figures told HSJ that it had been hard to assess the app because the government was “going about it in a kind of a ham-fisted way. They haven’t got clear versions, so it’s been impossible to get fixed code base from them for NHS Digital to test. They keep changing it all over the place.” HSJ’s source described the app as “a bit wobbly.”

  • PrivacyThe COVIDSafe App Was Just One Contact Tracing Option. These Alternatives Guarantee More Privacy

    By Kelsie Nabben and Chris Berg

    Since its release on Sunday, experts and members of the public alike have raised privacy concerns with the Australian federal government’s COVIDSafe mobile app. Many Australians have said that they worried about “the security of personal information collected” by the app. In its coronavirus response, the government has a golden opportunity to build public trust. There are other ways to build a digital contact tracing system, some of which would arguably raise fewer doubts about data security than the app.

  • Tracing & privacyCoronavirus: Digital Contact Tracing Doesn’t Have to Sacrifice Privacy

    By José Parra-Moyano, Karl Schmedders, and Michel Avital

    To make it safer to reduce the lockdown measures, proposals are being considered to use data from people’s smartphones to track their movements and contacts with potentially infected patients. Other systems involve monitoring the data trails of all citizens to generate useful information that helps to prevent the spread of the disease. All these approaches involve allowing the government, and in some cases private companies, to build a database of where we go, the people we associate with and when. Such intrusive tracking is more typically associated with totalitarian regimes and easily can be misused. Despite the good intentions, then, these measures raise serious concerns that collecting and sharing such data might pose a threat to citizens’ right to privacy.

  • Tracking & privacyExamining Australia’s COVIDSafe Tracing App

    The Australian government releases an App called COVIDSafe to help in tracing contacts of those infected with the coronavirus. As is the case with similar apps in other countries, COVIDSafe has raised privacy concerns, especially about the potential of abuse by government agencies and hacking by cybercriminals. The University of Sydney academics from the disciplines of cybersecurity, media, law and health comment on COVIDSafe, its pros and cons.

  • TracingFrance, Europe Mull Controversial Coronavirus Tracing Apps

    France’s parliament votes next week on plans to use a controversial tracing app to help fight the coronavirus, as the country eyes easing its lockdown next month. Lisa Bryant writes in VOA News that French Digital Affairs Minister Cedric O says the downloadable app would notify smartphone users when they cross people with COVID-19, helping authorities track and reduce the spread of the pandemic. In a video on the ruling party’s Facebook page, O said the so-called “Stop COVID” app will fully respect people’s liberties, and will be completely voluntary and anonymous. It also will be temporary — lasting only as long as the pandemic, he added. The government wants to launch the app on May 11, the date it has set to begin easing a two-month lockdown in the country. It initially announced a parliamentary debate on the technology, but that’s been changed to a vote, after major pushback from lawmakers.

  • AuthoritariansGulf States Use Coronavirus Threat to Tighten Authoritarian Controls and Surveillance

    Governments across the Middle East have moved to upgrade their surveillance capabilities under the banner of combatting COVID-19, the disease linked to the new coronavirus. Matthew Hedges writes in The Conversation that overtly repressive policies have been commonplace across the Middle East for years, notably in Egypt, Iraq and Syria, where violent measures have been taken to control populations. As a result of technological advances, an increase in political engagement and changes of leadership, the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – have also upgraded their form of authoritarianism in recent years. This has seen policies of partial economic liberalization and market-based reforms used to obscure an increase in repression and surveillance, for example by containing the work of civil society groups. Following the pattern in which authoritarian states tend to exploit common threats, some of the GCC states are now manipulating the current pandemic to enhance their social power and control.

  • TracingThe Coronavirus Contact Tracing App Won't Log Your Location, but It Will Reveal Who You Hang Out With

    The Australian federal government has announced plans to introduce a contact tracing mobile app to help curb COVID-19’s spread in Australia. Roba Abbas and Katina Michael write in The Conversation that rather than collecting location data directly from mobile operators, the proposed TraceTogether app will use Bluetooth technology to sense whether users who have voluntarily opted-in have come within nine metres of one another. Contact tracing apps generally store 14-21 days of interaction data between participating devices to help monitor the spread of a disease. The TraceTogether app has been available in Singapore since March 20, and its reception there may help shed light on how the new tech will fare in Australia.

  • Contact tracing & privacyThe Challenge of Proximity Apps For COVID-19 Contact Tracing

    By Andrew Crocker, Kurt Opsahl, and Bennett Cyphers

    Around the world, a diverse and growing chorus is calling for the use of smartphone proximity technology to fight COVID-19. In particular, public health experts and others argue that smartphones could provide a solution to an urgent need for rapid, widespread contact tracing—that is, tracking who infected people come in contact with as they move through the world. Proponents of this approach point out that many people already own smartphones, which are frequently used to track users’ movements and interactions in the physical world. But it is not a given that smartphone tracking will solve this problem, and the risks it poses to individual privacy and civil liberties are considerable.

  • Contact tracing & privacyBluetooth Signals from Your Smartphone Could Automate COVID-19 Contact Tracing While Preserving Privacy

    By Kylie Foy

    Imagine you’ve been diagnosed as Covid-19 positive. Health officials begin contact tracing to contain infections, asking you to identify people with whom you’ve been in close contact. The obvious people come to mind — your family, your coworkers. But what about the woman ahead of you in line last week at the pharmacy, or the man bagging your groceries? Or any of the other strangers you may have come close to in the past 14 days? Researchers are developing a system that augments “manual” contact tracing by public health officials, while preserving the privacy of all individuals. The system enables smartphones to transmit “chirps” to nearby devices could notify people if they have been near an infected person.

  • PrivacyHow to Protect Privacy When Aggregating Location Data to Fight COVID-19

    By Jacob Hoffman-Andrews and Andrew Crocker

    As governments, the private sector, NGOs, and others mobilize to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen calls to use location information—typically drawn from GPS and cell tower data—to inform public health efforts. Compared to using individualized location data for contact tracing—as many governments around the world are already doing—deriving public health insights from aggregated location data poses far fewer privacy and other civil liberties risks such as restrictions on freedom of expression and association. However, even “aggregated” location data comes with potential pitfalls.