Access Now is committed to protecting human rights and to contributing to governments’ responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. These responses must promote public health, prevent discrimination, ensure access to reliable and timely information, defend unrestricted access to an open, affordable, and secure internet, ensure the enjoyment of freedom of expression and of opinion, and protect privacy and personal data.
International and national laws recognise that extraordinary circumstances require extraordinary measures. This means that certain fundamental rights, including the rights to privacy and data protection, may be restricted to address the current health crisis as long as basic democratic principles and a series of safeguards are applied, and the interference is lawful, limited in time, and not arbitrary.
This paper focuses on three categories of measures that authorities have advanced around the world:
- collection and use of health data
- tracking and geo-location, and
- public-private partnerships.
The paper provides an overview of existing measures and give specific guidance for each category to help assist governments in addressing this major public health crisis while ensuring that people’s rights are respected.