Greens call contact-tracing app ‘a totalitarian regime’s wet dream’

Pandemic no excuse for invasive technologies, says Green Party

The Greens said it was worrying that entrepreneur and Nationalist MP Ivan Bartolo was peddling mass surveillance technology and wearable geolocation devices on the pretext that it will contain the coronavirus pandemic
The Greens said it was worrying that entrepreneur and Nationalist MP Ivan Bartolo was peddling mass surveillance technology and wearable geolocation devices on the pretext that it will contain the coronavirus pandemic

Alternattiva Demokratika, Malta’s Green party, has come out against a proposed contact-tracing app – mooted by the government as a measure to stop the spread of COVID-19 – describing it as “every totalitarian regime’s wet dream.”

“The coronavirus pandemic should not be used as an excuse to introduce invasive technologies and to force the entire population of Malta and Gozo to be monitored continuously through their mobile devices,” Ralph Cassar, AD secretary-general said.

“It is worrying that in the space of barely a month, in parliament, on some media outlets and now during an official PN press conference, entrepreneur MP Ivan Bartolo has been peddling mass surveillance technology and wearable geolocation devices on the pretext that it will contain the coronavirus pandemic. He is making the assumption that what is possible through technology is inherently right. It is not.”

Arguing that it was not right to create panic and paranoia by introducing such an app, Cassar added that it was “not right to collect massive amounts of data about people’s whereabouts, who they hang out with and their daily routine.” 

There were other ways to collect the information, he said, which were based on trust-building, and on providing accessible public services to tackle crises. 

“Why should we trust that the data collected is used responsibly? Why should people be made to wear, buy or use technological devices provided by the state?  What guarantees are there such that such blanket surveillance will not become a new normal and used for other purposes?  Who will own people’s personal data?” Cassar asked.

People should be trusted and helped to do the right thing rather than forced into technological servitude, said the party in a statement on Saturday. 

Bartolo’s and the PN’s proposals were “every totalitarian regime’s wet dream,” Cassar said.

As it was clear that in Malta, there already was a spirit of cooperation on the part of the public to control the pandemic, this meant that the introduction of such measures were unnecessary, he went on, predicting that such measures would “breach the relationship of trust between health authorities and the public and may have long lasting repercussions.”

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