Paraguay is one of many countries that have put in place new measures, legal and technological, to help contain the spread of the coronavirus. Unprecedented levels of surveillance, data exploitation, and misinformation are being tested across the world. It is important to examine how these technological solutions will impact democracy at the global level, both during this emergency period and moving forward.
In Paraguay, many proposals and ideas emerged on how to use technology to face the COVID-19 pandemic, some focused on biomedical and social control. While the application of technology can reinforce pre-established public health policies, it is of concern that it is used for mass surveillance purposes. As will be explained later, the technology used in this context was implemented from a technologically revolutionary perspective where no human rights impact study was conducted and no structural changes were aimed, but rather the technology was presented as a sort of magic potion. It is so that these “solutions” are gathering a significant amount of sensitive information, such as health diagnostics and geolocation, among others, and may impose severe restrictions on people’s freedoms, including their privacy and other human rights.
Many of these measures are based on extraordinary powers. Like in many countries, the duration of the declaration of emergency in Paraguay have not been time bound (i.e., there are no sunset clauses). Other countries use existing exemptions in data protection laws to share data. Some may be effective and based on advice from epidemiologists, others will not be. But all of them must be temporary, necessary, and proportionate. Here we outline various measures taken by the government of Paraguay which require further scrutiny and accountability.
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