Freedom, democracy and transparency Media reports

Patrick Breyer on Coronavirus: No justification for tracking the movements of all citizens!

Member of the European Parliament Patrick Breyer (Pirate Party) criticises telecommunications providers such as Deutsche Telekom, the Austrian A1 and the Belgian Proximus for their bulk disclosure of location data in the coronavirus crisis:

“Monitoring the movements of all citizens – even without names – does not protect anyone from infection, but it makes unprecedented mass surveillance possible. Analysing bulk location data threatens to become a precedent for real-time identification of non-public meetings and gatherings, which can be very important for example for the confidential planning of political activities and actions. What now starts as a research project could become a weapon of mass surveillance and a highly dangerous instrument of persecution in the hands of a nationalist government.”

Breyer warns that the next step could be the automated reporting of individuals for “suspicious behaviour”:

“The next step will be to label people an ‘infection risk’ because of their movements and contacts – just as block wardens used to in authoritarian times. Our smartphones could also be turned into electronic shackles. A general suspicion against all citizens is typical for totalitarian systems like China, but unacceptable in a democracy! Under constant surveillance we are no longer free.”

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