Governments, private and public organizations around the world are taking measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These measures, among others, include processing of various types of citizens’ personal data. In the context of the fight against coronavirus, health information, location data from mobile phones, metadata and other citizens’ personal data are of particular importance.
Quarantine regime has been introduced in Almaty, Nur-Sultan and other cities by the Decree of the President of Kazakhstan “On the introduction of a state of emergency in the Republic of Kazakhstan” to combat against spread of coronavirus infection COVID-19.
According to the Decree of Acting the Chief State Sanitary Doctor of Almaty city dated March 18, 2020 No. 8 “On introduction of the quarantine regime in Almaty”, the Police Department is obligated to ensure, among other things, “control over citizens to ensure the home quarantine regime with no right to move outside, with location data tracking from citizens’ mobile phones.»
The Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On the state of emergency” allows certain restrictions on rights and freedoms of citizens, including the right to free movement and the right to privacy, however, these restrictions, according to Article 17 of this Law, must be implemented to the extent that are caused by circumstances, served as the basis for the imposition of a state of emergency and should not contradict international human rights treaties ratified by Kazakhstan.
As for the directive of “location data tracking from citizens’ mobile phones,” obviously, it is an interference with the right to privacy by tracking the coordinates of mobile phone users with the assistance of telecommunication companies. This measure belongs to the data processing obtained from electronic communications, such as location data from mobile user devices. The legal basis for this limitation is an emergency situation with the spread of the virus.
Many governments are willing to use location data from citizens’ smartphones to control the spread of coronavirus infection. According to The Washington Post, USA has been negotiating with Facebook, Google and other technology companies with the participation of health experts. Meanwhile, the public is curios: “Has this measure used in emergency situations, breaks limits of the restriction of human rights to privacy and confidentiality of personal data?”
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