Quarantine tracking via smartphones?
In its efforts to contain the Covid-19 pandemic Europe is also looking to South Korea, where apps are being used to check whether people are complying with quarantine regulations. The population has apparently complied voluntarily and the measure has met with success. In Europe, too, countries have started using mobile phone data to track how many people are moving around in public spaces. Some observers see this as an effective strategy, while others are concerned that it undermines data protection.
Now is the time to use modern technology
All the means available should be used to curb the rate of infection, Corriere della Sera comments approvingly:
“Why are we not using all the technology at our disposal now that we really need to do so? The instruction is to stay at home. ... A rule that too many people are breaking because we're still fighting with 20th-century weapons. To meet this challenge, we must act according to the WHO's instructions: 'Find, isolate, test, treat and track each person infected'. To do this quickly, the authorities could ask mobile operators to make their data and technologies available on a large scale in order to monitor social distance and to open up new channels for communication with citizens.”
Shields to help us back to normality
Apps that record the movements of people infected with Covid-19 could play a key role in paving the way for the gradual lifting of curfews, writes Valérie Segond, Italy correspondent for Le Figaro:
“Technophiles argue that these apps are based on risk awareness and individual responsibility. Only those who wish to download them will download them, according to the tried and tested procedure based on a declaration of consent by users and avenues of legal recourse. These 'digital passports', they argue, will make it possible for us to gradually leave our confinement. It's a sensitive moment that could take months to materialise, as no one really knows today whether the antibodies will protect those who contract the virus from further infection. Clearly these digital shields could be the very condition for the end of confinement.”
Clarify now when emergency measures will end
Polityka fears that the far-reaching restrictions on personal freedoms could last well beyond the Covid-19 crisis:
“It's far easier to give the security services new powers than it is to take them away later. This was already demonstrated in the fight against terrorism - and people are much more afraid of the pandemic, so that the use of means that society would never tolerate at other times is far easier at the moment. This is why when we introduce new measures, we must also draw up a precise plan right from the beginning that lays out how these measures are to be ended once the pandemic is over.”