We highly appreciate the steps taken by the Government from the perspective of the protection of the population’s health and life. Nevertheless, this draft does not solve either of these problems. The events implemented by the state in the state of emergency should not deviate from the principles of democracy, human rights and rule of law. The draft developed by the Government contains a number of problematic regulations which create unnecessary disproportional restrictions on the protection of personal data, inviolability of personal and family life and the right to freedom and privacy of communication.
It should be recorded that in the state of emergency, there are already active restrictions on the right to move freely. The principle of proportionality requires that preference be given to less intrusive solutions, taking into account the specific purpose pursued. 2 Introduction of additional oversight mechanisms may disrupt the whole system of human rights protection and have irreversible consequences for the functioning of democratic institutes.
The Council of Europe and the European Union have already highlighted the issue of personal data protection in the countries’ fight against COVID-19. 3
Questions arise as to what security mechanisms and means will be in place to exclude personal data leaks and access to the data by third parties. Also, another problem is where the data will be stored. There is no link between the processed personal data and the purpose defined. Thus, a question arises: how expedient is it to control the number and duration of calls and all that has no direct connection with movement?
Unlike GPS, location data obtained by mobile data have a very low accuracy, hence the benefit of their use is highly questionable. This means that the collection of the data will be of no use in the fight against the pandemic. Besides, the toolkit used to process the data is quite expensive and requires big expenditures from the state budget. Thus, we exhort not to waste resources on the collection and processing of inefficient data.
The lack of an efficient applicable mechanism of recording and preventing abuses resulting from the suggested restrictions may not only entail uncontrollable violations of human rights without achieving the presupposed purpose of preventing the coronavirus pandemic, but may also make people’s lives and safety vulnerable.
We assess the draft as a gross violation of the right to personal data protection, the right to inviolability of personal and family life, the right to freedom and privacy of communication, and claim to remove it from circulation.
At the same time, we exhort the Government to invest all the possible resources and efforts to find out the possible scope of contact with the infected persons and force their isolation, as well as add tests for the population, which is the most effective method to discover cases of infection in a proper and timely manner.
Open Society Foundations-Armenia
Peace Dialogue NGO
Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly-Vanadzor
Centre for Community Mobilization and Support NGO
Analytical Centre on Globalization and Regional Cooperation
Ara Gharagyozyan, lawyer
Arayik Papikyan, lawyer
Tehmine Yenokyan, journalist
Veles Human Rights NGO
Protection of Rights without Borders NGO
Harut Harutyunyan, citizen