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Joint statement on Digital surveillance technologies and COVID-19 in Canada

As the Canadian government seeks to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the possibility of using smartphone tracking or other mass public data collection to track infections or ensure
compliance with rules has been raised.

The pressure to adopt extraordinary measures in response to extraordinary situations is understandably high. But we must make sure to carefully consider the cost to our privacy,
values and human rights. We must emphasize that any measures that amount to mass warrantless surveillance of identifiable people in Canada would not be a proportionate or
reasonable response, even in these difficult times.

Alongside the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (FIPA), International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG), and the Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy & Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC, we urge the government of Canada to follow these seven principles when considering any kind of enhanced digital surveillance or data collection:

  1. Prioritize approaches which do not require any surveillance or data gathering to encourage people to stay at home
  2. Due process for adopting any new powers
  3. Favour consent in any data sharing initiatives
  4. Put strict limits on data collection and retention
  5. Put strict limits on use and disclosure
  6. Oversight, transparency and accountability
  7. Any surveillance efforts related to COVID-19 must not fall under the domain of security, law enforcement or intelligence agencies

Read the full statement here.