Damir Gainutdinov: Nine recommendations for government based on Agora’s recently released report on use of surveillance during the pandemic

16 July 2020

Damir Gainutdinov is a legal analyst with the advocacy group Agora (1)

Source: Moscow Helsinki Group [original source: Facebook]

In addition to the specific report on surveillance, we also have recommendations that the current government will ignore.  But, as the good old joke used to say, “This is for later” (2):

1.  Any surveillance should be established in accordance with accessible and clearly formulated normative acts issued by authorized bodies acting within their field of competence.

2.  The application of any surveillance technology should be voluntary and optional.  Forced surveillance and the collection of information about the private lives of individuals should be authorized on the basis of a well-founded court order and be subject to restricted limits on time, scope and means of implementation.

3.  Mass indiscriminate surveillance is illegal in all instances and should not be used, since it does not allow an analysis of specific cases in accordance with the necessity and proportionality of the measures applied.

4.  Any data collected should be securely protected and used only by authorised persons.  The state should ensure that officials who disclose personal data are held to account, and that any victims are appropriately compensated.

5.  In processing anonymised data, the relevant state body or authorised individual should be able and ready at all times to ensure the anonymity of the data.

6.  No more data should be collected than is essential for the protection of public health.  The data may not be marketed, even in an anonymised form, or used for other purposes, including penal investigations.

7.  All data must be securely deleted once they have been processed for the specific purpose for which they were collected.  This includes data gathered for the purpose of monitoring individuals’ compliance with mandatory quarantine regulations; these data must be destroyed after the quarantine is terminated.

8.  Surveillance may not be discriminatory and may not be based on race, nationality, citizenship or country of origin.

9.  The state is responsible for ensuring the transparency of all the measures and actions it takes; it should do so by creating the conditions for an independent public audit of the impact of its actions on the rights of the individual.

Translator’s Notes

(1) Agora is an international human rights group focussing on legal advocacy.  For information, see http://en.agora.legal/ and https://www.dw.com/en/ngos-in-russia-battered-but-unbowed/a-41459467

(2)  This refers to an old Jewish/Russian story.  An elderly Jewish man was lying on his death bed,  Suddenly he smelled something delicious.  Calling his grandson, he asked him to go the kitchen: “I think your grandmother is preparing stuffed fish.”  The grandson returns.  “Yes,” he says, “you are right, but Grandma says it is for later” [that is, for dinner after the funeral].

Translated with notes by Elizabeth Teague

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