Belgium: MEPs warn against usage of COVID-19 tracing apps for mass surveillance

Members of the European Parliament took part in a plenary session in Brussels on Thursday to debate the use of contact-tracing applications to help curb the coronavirus outbreak in the following months. MEPs touched on the possibility of using contact tracing apps as a new measure in addition to social distancing, testing and masks. They nonetheless highlighted the need to safeguard citizens... Еще' personal data and privacy in a moment in which EU countries intend to launch a mobile tracing app to track infected patients. EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders addressed the Members of the Parliament stating that without any doubts, «these applications cannot be used for mass surveillance.» «Individuals will keep, and should keep, control of their data,» he said. «That is the foundation of the precision and efficiency of these applications to contain the spread of the virus. It is therefore essential to identify the solutions that are the least intrusive and which fully comply with the requirements for the protection of personal data and confidentiality as defined in European Union law.» Reynders also emphasized that «the personal data should not be kept for longer than necessary» and «timelines should be based on medical relevance, to be used only during the crisis and be de-activated at the latest when the pandemic is over.» David Cormand, French member of the group of the Greens/European Free Alliance, said that «this system endorses an idea that is deadly for democracy,» in which the fundamental rights would be violated. German member of the group of the Greens/European Free Alliance, Patrick Breyer, asked the governments to «ensure sufficient protective equipment, tests and treatments are produced» and «prepare for future pandemics.» «That's what we owe to the people — not surveillance technology,» he added. Regardless of the common negative answer to the use of tracing apps in the plenary session, Isabel Wiseler-Lima, Luxembourgish member of the group of the European People's Party wondered «where and when is the freedom of the individual threatened.» «As an application, as one element among others allowing me to bring some additional security to my family, the people around me and others, it is almost a duty for the public authorities to make it available to citizens and to inform them as best as possible,» she stated. The Commission had published the interoperability guidelines for approved contact tracing mobile applications on May 13. The national authorities will work together with the EU data protection authorities to ensure that the tracing apps comply with EU privacy and data protection laws in place, Commissioner Didier Reynders reported.
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