QUESTION OF: The question of government digital surveillance of the population.


CO-SUBMITTERS:Kazakhstan, Ecuador, Cuba, Lao PDR, Israel, Jordan, Latvia, Belgium, Cyprus, China, Arab League, Bolivia.



Defining community-based surveillance (CBS) as detection of public health issues by members of the community and government entities,

Noting the right to privacy is a fundamental human right and should be respected by all UN member states,

Recognizing the life-saving nature of surveillance in times of a global health crisis, like the on-going COVID-19 pandemic,

Keeping in mind the effectiveness of surveillance technology in COVID-19 contact tracing,

Recalling the plethora of past UN resolutions firmly placing value in digital privacy for all people of member states, 

Further noting that event-based surveillance (EBS) is defined as collection and assessment of unstructured data regarding public health risks by the World Health Organization (WHO),

Further defining signals as patterns of disease that may or may not become outbreaks,

Bearing in mind that the main goal of the usage of surveillance during COVID-19 is the early detection of cases in order to inhibit the spread of the disease,

  1. Recommends each member state to develop their own app to be installed on citizens’ phones with the sole objective of tracking the track COVID-19 spread, which will:
    1. monitor citizens who are traveling abroad and coming back to the country with the purpose of ensuring that the necessary tests are taken by those citizens
    2. use GPS data and/or Bluetooth to assist in COVID-19 contact tracing
    3. monitor who citizens interact with, how long they interact, and when they interacted to assist in COVID-19 contact tracing
    4. record whether citizens have been infected, by collaborating with local health officials, and use this data to track emerging hotspots, and inform affected people of their proximity to the virus;
  2. Further recommends all UN member states to create and deploy an individual cybersecurity agency with the sole purpose of maintaining accountability from private firms as well as government institutions to ensure the ethical and safe use of personal data through:
    1. providing effective communication between member states in order to ensure the fundamental regulations and procedures are followed, which are already decided by international instruments on the topic of human rights and preservation of personal data
    2. ensuring that the digital data and other information regarding the health history of individuals that are collected by the governments are safe from any and all cyber-attacks and other threats that may be caused online and violate the preservation of personal data, and are not shared with third parties for other purposes;
  3. Encourages an official meeting under the authority of the United Nations on the issue of digital surveillance of the population that will be joined by members states on a decided date within six months, in order to:
    1. decide on a mutual agreement on fundamental rules and regulations regarding the government surveillance of the population to have a base international instrument on the issue for members states to refer back to and build their legislation on to, that will include:
      1. fundamental human rights established by the UN
      2. certain procedures for the digital management of the surveillance of data
      3. limits of access on personal data that are already decided by certain international instruments
    2. create a medium for member states to share expertise and experience on digital surveillance of the population during COVID-19;
  4. Further encourages a program that informs the public about ongoing surveillance during COVID-19 with the purpose of providing efficient and clear communication from the government to citizens about surveillance methods, and ensuring citizens are aware of how they are being surveilled, by:
    1. sharing necessary information regarding the surveillance methods of the government via national media and other organs
    2. providing education to the citizens on the use of the application and other media organs as well as the reasons for the surveillance when necessary;
  5. Suggests the use of CBS beyond the medical threats of COVID-19 and also implementing these systems of surveillance to address the threats that have arisen as a result of COVID-19;
  6. Proposes that each individual member state, after the creation of contact tracing app, inform their citizens of the state, with the help of a specific health conference that should be broadcasted to the population regarding the app, addressing and giving information about the app such as, but not limited to:
    1. the data that will be collected in order to provide a sufficient amount of information for contact tracing including:
      1. phone number
      2. email address
      3. age
      4. name
      5. special conditions
      6. location
    2. reminding the population that if the app has been downloaded on their phone, to make sure that they take them wherever they go outside to ensure that the contact tracing can be as reliable as possible,
    3. the general layout of the contact tracing app and inform the population how to record specific personal information and any sort of survey related to symptoms or location on it to allow maximum efficiency.