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Privacy Concerns Grow Over Coronavirus Measures in Germany

The world will never be the same after novel Coronavirus is a rare statement over which most experts agree. During the Coronavirus outbreak, several European countries have taken certain measures which otherwise would never be considered in a western democracy. Germany’s latest plans amount to screening pulses of its citizens and that raised alarms in the public which still carries the scars of the 20th century dictatorship.

The “Big Brother” moment for the German citizens started when mobile giant Deutsche Telekom decided to share data of its customers with the government to monitor the movement of its citizens to see whether people follow the rules to curb the virus. Although it was announced that no European privacy law would be violated by this step, concerns have since been raised.


In the German capital, Berlin, a protest called “Corona Dictatorship” was held on Friday. German police quickly dispersed the crowd and even took one photojournalist under custody. One of the protestors said on his Twitter account that the journalist being released later does not change the fact that he was arrested in the first place. The protestors in Berlin was pointing at alarming concerns to recent controversial government steps to stop the spread the virus. The protest itself never made it to the mainstream media.

The worst has yet to come. German government has recently announced that it was working on a smartphone application to fight the virus. Robert Koch Institute said the app would allow people to voluntarily share information from their fitness trackers that could reveal signs of a Covid-19 infection. Once the app is downloaded, it will keep track of person’s sleep habits, body temperature and even heart rate which could be symptoms of a respiratory disease. Germany hopes 10 percent of the roughly 10 million people in Germany with smartwatches or fitness bracelets will join in.

These might all sound like necessary steps to beat the Coronavirus once and for all. However, not all the Germans believe in that. Beate Bahner, A lawyer in Germany with expertise in privacy and democracy issues, applied to the German Federal Constitutional Court to reverse Coronavirus rules but her appeal was rejected. She referred to restrictions as “biggest legal scandal” in the history of the Federal Republic. Bahner’s attempt to hold a demonstration on Saturday was also banned by the police and her website was temporarily taken down.

For now, how far these preventive measures could infiltrate into our personal space does not hit most people in Germany. General public believes and hopes all the measures would be dropped once the outbreak is beaten. A Brussel-based journalist Guldener Sonumut said these steps are supposed to be temporary. “At least that is the case for now,” she continued in her piece.

Picture Source: Martin Lejeune

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