Law in the Internet Society
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Privacy in the age go COVID-19

-- By MarvinGalloway - 24 Nov 2020

Privacy is often touted as being a core value of a free democracy, however, this premise is nowadays being tested more than ever. Increasing technological capabilities are viewed as helpful mechanisms to confront the SARS-Cov2 pandemic. And while the use of technology is certainly our best bet in terms of tracing infections, we must be aware of the privacy concerns that such use raises. One country where the debate of security and privacy versus disease control is taking on a rather interesting dynamic is Germany.

In May of 2020, the German government directed its federal agency in charge of disease control, research, and prevention, the Robert-Koch-Institut, to commission a mobile app which had the intention of tracking infections and alerting users that they had been in close proximity to another user who tested positive for the novel Coronavirus. It was developed jointly by Deutsche Telekom and software giant SAP, along with support from various other firms and organizations. While many citizens were skeptical of the application at first, the developers and, some, politicians have praised its capabilities and point to the near 20 million downloads as a marker of success.

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With Germany being a country made up of citizens that know just too well how fragile the illusion of privacy and freedom can be, whether we are thinking of the horrors of the Third Reich or of the wiretapping/spying apparatus and information control of the German Democratic Republic, it may be astonishing that Jens Spahn, Merkel’s minister of health, has been able to convince that many individuals to download an app that represents perhaps the most intrusive public invasion of privacy the German public has directly been able to observe in the 21st century. This does not mean that similar things have not happened in the past, or that Germans are more protective than any other western European nation, one must simply talk to members of Chaos Computer Club to get a better picture. But it is rather interesting considering that privacy concerns are regularly touted as a major obstacle to implementing new technological abilities in the country. The most notorious example of course being the lack of Google Street View coverage as compared to the rest of Europe and the United States.

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r1 - 24 Nov 2020 - 01:20:20 - MarvinGalloway
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