The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the need for strong data protection standards during public health emergencies. Governments and private entities have used contact tracing technologies, employee monitoring, surveillance drones, facial recognition, and more in an attempt to combat the spread of COVID, justified by a “state of emergency.” Italy, for example, approved the use of drones to surveil lockdown-violators during the pandemic, identify infected individuals, and even yell at offenders through recorded warnings.
Under many global legal regimes, certain rights may be curtailed or temporarily limited during states of emergency, exceptional circumstances, or due to pressing national interest. However, privacy advocates have been vocal about the need to ensure that emergency measures are limited – both in time and scope – and do not permanently undermine individual privacy rights or become the “new normal.”
• What limitations – both in law and in practice – currently exist on curtailing privacy protections during a state of
• How are privacy protections safeguarded by data protection authorities, civil rights groups, and others during a declared state of emergency?
• Are there areas that you believe most urgently require protections against exploitation during a state of emergency?
• How can we effectively combat potential abuse of “state of emergency” to curtail privacy rights?