The Spanish Government Studies the Use of the Mobile Phone’s Geolocation Data against Coronavirus

Spain’s Minister of Justice, Juan Carlos Campo, said earlier this week that the Spanish government is looking to use its citizens’ mobile phone geolocation data to control the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus (Covid-19).  

Campo said that there are other countries applying the same measures. “The Data Protection Agency tells us that there is no violation during a situation like this and it seems reasonable to us that when someone is positive and reluctant [to be confined] we establish some mechanism,” he said.  

In this sense, he referred to the possibility of forcing the isolation of individuals that have tested positive (for Covid-19) who do not want to isolate themselves. “The emergency state does not lower the rule of law and, in cases like this, they would ask the relevant departments to act,” he said in relation to the enablement of public facilities and hotels to isolate asymptomatic individuals.  

In any case, he also said that everything cannot be “homogenized” and the government considers the assumptions of the people who want to access these spaces “voluntarily” because they cannot do it elsewhere.  

Many organizations, political parties and citizens have raised concerns about what they think will be a tool that will be in force beyond the state of emergency. The Spanish government could use this tool against political dissenters, they warned.  

Ministry of Truth (1984)

Campo also vowed to review all legal instruments in order to penalize anyone who spreads false information and “contaminates public opinion.” The minister defended the citizens’ right to truthful information and said that it is even more important in an emergency situation when he believes that fake news can do “harm.” Thus the Spanish government would decide what can and cannot be published jeopardizing citizens’ freedom of expression and political dissent.

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