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School of Law

Responding to Covid-19: Surveillance, Trust and the Rule of Law

A blog series from the Criminal Justice Centre and the School of Law, coordinated by Professor Valsamis Mitsilegas and Professor Elspeth Guild

Government responses to Covid-19 have centered on surveillance as a key component of managing citizens and populations as the pandemic develops. Calls for enhanced surveillance- including generalised tracking, tracing and monitoring of mobility and movement- pose a number of fundamental challenges to the reconfiguration of the relationship between the individual and the state in democratic societies based on the rule of law.

This blog series will evaluate critically current and proposed surveillance-led responses from a domestic, European, comparative and global perspective. Contributions will develop new thinking in responses to Covid-19, including a fundamental rights and rule of law audit of responses to Covid-19. The impact of surveillance-led responses to processes of stigmatisation, inclusion and exclusion, citizenship and democracy will also be explored.

Blog entries

Statues at the Parthenon in Athens set against a view of the city Greece’s Covid-19 Response: Not Beyond Reproach
5 March 2021

Greece emerged as the EU’s poster child in the fight against Covid-19 during the first few months of the pandemic. Its approach, while effective, is not beyond reproach. We analyse two such contested areas of Covid-19 regulation: permits of movement obtained through SMS, and restrictions to the freedom of movement of asylum seekers. Our analysis draws from our forthcoming article in the European Journal of Risk Regulation (2021).

People walking through the departure lounge of an airport Empty Threats Make the Most Noise
12 February 2021

A row erupted on 9 February 2021 when Mr Matt Hancock[1] announced that any passenger who submits a Passenger Locator Form in terms that conceal the fact that they had travelled in a ‘red list’ country[2] (such as Portugal)could face a £10,000 fine or prosecution and up to 10 years in prison”.[3]

People running, jogging and walking in the park Conflating "Guidance" and "Rules" - Restrictions on "Exercise" during the Jan 21 Covid Lockdown
14 January 2021

From the 6 January 2021, every area in England has been placed into Tier 4. That tier is subject to a number of restrictions which, collectively, have been styled a “lockdown”.

A party of people gathered by a river at sunset 'Mingling' and the 'Rule of Six'
16 September 2020

What do the expressions “mingle” and “rule of six” actually mean?

EU flag EU Fundamental Rights, Human Rights and Free Movement in times of Covid19
24 July 2020

In this blog Professor Elspeth Guild will briefly outline the key fundamental rights which are put in question under each category and conclude with some general comments.

Woman sat on the floor with her knees up and her head in her hands The impact of increasing domestic violence as a result of COVID-19 on those with insecure immigration status
22 July 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic and isolation which has ensued, has driven a dramatic rise in the number of reports of domestic violence in the UK. The Guardian reported that during the first four weeks of lockdown, 13 women and four children were killed in the UK, while calls to domestic violence helplines increased by 120%. This devastating consequence of lockdown is not confined to the UK, but is being felt globally.

Patrons sat outside the Sherlock Holmes pub in London Regulating public heath on ‘Super Saturday’: misstatements and legal uncertainty
6 July 2020

Revised regulations make no reference to “two households”, “multiple households” or “groups of up to six”, or (for that matter) to ‘linked households’. The view - that two households "of any size" could get together in a “private dwelling" - was misplaced. 

Person's hand holding an iphone Digital apps in times of Covid 19: an illusionary solution
18 June 2020

How is it possible to believe, and to make people believe, that the actions of digital tracking and detection of the movements of potential patients will make it possible to re-establish a "normalized" health and economic order with an acceptable victim rate and to deconflict without too much risk?

Smartphone on a table with a screen showing contact tracing is enabled to detect coronavirus transmission An Exit Strategy from Covid-19 Lockdown: Surrendering to Surveillance with Different Design Choices
8 June 2020

There are many questions to be asked regarding digital contact tracing apps developed in response to the coronavirus crisis

The EU flag with a padlock in the middle of the circle of stars Covid-19: European rules for using personal data
4 June 2020

What existing national security legislation, new bulk analysis efforts, and emergency measures have different states deployed to curb the spread of Covid-19?

Big pink bubble with a location icon in the middle, surrounded by purple and yellow bubbles Covid-19: A New Struggle over Privacy, Data Protection and Human Rights?
4 June 2020

What existing national security legislation, new bulk analysis efforts, and emergency measures have different states deployed to curb the spread of Covid-19?

People walking through a tree-lined pathway in Green Park, London Open textured legislation in the times of Covid-19: 'reasonable excuse’ and legal certainty'
2 June 2020

This blog examines the problems that can arise when Parliament chooses to regulate conduct in an open-textured manner

A digital image of an eye representing surveillance Responding to Covid-19: Surveillance, Trust and the Rule of Law
26 May 2020

The purpose of this analysis is to focus on the multi-level challenges that, regardless of its form, what is in effect a post-Covid system of mass surveillance poses on well-established principles of law, rights, trust and citizenship

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