• Press Release

Privacy Must Not Be ‘Another Casualty’ of the Virus in the UK

May 4, 2020

Jess Kemp holds a smartphone showing webpage where customers can directly order plants from at Sandiacre Nursery near Guildford on May 4, 2020. - The nursery is a third generation family-owned business. Started in 1945 after the second World War it now sells bedding plants to garden centres around the southeast of England. Nursery owner Royden Kemp said, that the lockdown couldn't have come at a worse time. "I have incurred all the expense of the crop but stand to lose all of the income if the shutdown continues through May" he said. To raise the cash for wages, Kemp has set up an online ordering service supplying local gardeners rather than their core business selling wholesale directly to garden centres. (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP) (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

The UK Government plans to introduce a COVID-19 tracing app with a potentially centralized contract tracing system are deeply concerning and may mean that people’s right to privacy could become “another casualty” of coronavirus, Amnesty International UK warned today.

Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK Director, said:

“We’re extremely concerned that the Government may be planning to route private data through a central database, opening the door to pervasive state surveillance and privacy infringement, with potentially discriminatory effects. 

“Ministers should instead be examining decentralized, privacy-preserving models such as those many European governments are pursuing.

“In these extraordinary times, contract tracing apps and other technology could potentially be useful tools in responding to COVID-19, but our privacy and rights must not become another casualty of the virus.

“Contract tracing apps must always be voluntary and without incentives or penalties.”

Public lack confidence in Government’s response

Last week, Amnesty released data showing a lack of public confidence in how the Government is responding to the crisis. Amnesty’s poll revealed that more than three-quarters (78%) of the UK public felt the Government had not been fully transparent in its communications in respect of the crisis. Amnesty has been campaigning for the Government to ensure that the most vulnerable people in society are adequately protected during the coronavirus pandemic – a petition to the Government has now reached almost 25,000 signatures.

To learn more about COVID-19 and human rights, visit: https://www.amnestyusa.org/distant-but-together-responding-to-covid-19/

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Mariya Parodi, [email protected]