SEEDIG intersessional project

COVID-19 tracking apps in SEE+

Project relevance

In the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, contact tracking apps have been viewed as a sound countermeasure for containing the spread of the virus by identifying the infected individual’s circle of contacts and monitoring compliance with self-isolation regime. Since the outbreak, many governments in SEE+ countries, such as Armenia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, North Macedonia, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine have introduced various forms of tracking apps, and few other states are currently deliberating upon such measures (e.g. Croatia).

While some governments have claimed positive results in preventing the further dissemination of COVID-19 through mobile location tracking, their application has raised many red flags in terms of human rights implications, in particular with regard to privacy and data protection. While these apps are gaining momentum, we know rather little about them or how they could affect society in the future. How many people will download and use them, and how widely used do they have to be in order to be effective? What data will they collect, and who is it shared with? Are there risks that the information be used in the future for other purposes? Are there policies in place to prevent potential abuse?

Goals

(a) Sensitise stakeholders about the deployment of tracking apps in the SEE+ region and their human rights implications.

(b) Create a brainstorming space for the development of recommendations for the region.

Milestones

Setting the scene

An introductory online meeting will be organised to set the scene for the project. It will include:

◽️ A section on what is mobile tracking, where is it being discussed, status in the region, human rights implications, etc.

◽️ A section on organising the work inside the community.

Working group

A call for volunteers was launched via the SEEDIG mailing list, to create a small working group (WG) in charge of collecting community feedback and drafting recommendations. The WG is convened based on the principle of stakeholder diversity to ensure that recommendations are not biased but provide a comprehensive overview of the issue at stake. Representatives from the countries that have launched tracking apps are especially welcomed to apply.

The WG may also host online meetings or conduct surveys to collect different points of view.

Recommendations

◽️ Drafting of recommendations (by the WG).

◽️Public comments on the draft recommendations.

◽️Comments are incorporated as deemed appropriate by the WG, and the recommendations are finalised.

◽️The recommendations are then shared with stakeholders in SEE+ and discussed during SEEDIG 6.

Indicative timeline

Element Timeline
Announcing the project
9 June 2020
Call for WG volunteers & Short survey
9–16 June 2020
Announcing WG composition
22 June 2020
Hosting introductory online discussion with the community
2 July 2020
Drafting recommendations by the WG
29 June – 24 July 2020
Presenting draft recommendations for public consultation
27 July – 9 August 2020
Incorporating comments from the community
10–23 August 2020
Disseminating recommendations
August – September 2020

Team

Working group:

  • Ayça Atabey, Researcher at Istanbul Bilgi University IT Law Institute, Turkey and PhD student at Edinburgh University, UK
  • Bogdan Banjac, Serbia
  • Nataša Glavor, Croatia
  • Veronica Mocanu, Moldova
  • Liljana Pecova, North Macedonia
  • Ucha Seturi, Georgia
  • Hanna Strubitska, Ukraine
  • Ioana Stupariu, Babes-Bolyai University, Romania
  • Sabrina Vorbau, Project Manager at European Schoolnet, Belgium

Co-leads:

  • Meri Baghdasaryan, YCIG Steering Committee member & SEEDIG 6 Programme Committee member, Armenia
  • Desara Dushi, Ph.D., SEEDIG Executive Committee member & Lead Albania Fellow, Albania
  • Olga Kyryliuk, Ph.D., SEEDIG Executive Committee member, CEO & Founder at The Influencer Platform, Ukraine

Contact: intersessional@seedig.net

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