Watchdog Urges Cambodia To Enact Data Protection Law Over Alarming COVID-19 QR Code System

Watchdog Urges Cambodia to Enact Data Protection Law Over Alarming COVID-19 QR Code System

MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 06th April, 2021) A prominent human rights watchdog on Tuesday called on the Cambodian government to adopt a data protection law, as the country's "Stop COVID-19" virus contact tracing system based on the QR code raised privacy and rights concerns.

In late February, Cambodia's Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPTC), together with the Health Ministry, launched an electronic check-in program in a bid to contain and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the country. The authorities initially claimed that the QR code system was voluntary and it logged citizens' locations without violating user privacy, however, in early March, the MPTC said that the collected data was submitted to the government.

"Cambodia should enact a data protection law that would regulate and protect the usage, collection, and retention of data in accordance with international standards for privacy and other rights," the Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement.

The watchdog added that any contact tracing system, such as Cambodia's "Stop COVID-19" initiative, should protect the right to privacy and be used strictly for responding to the pandemic.

"Cambodia's QR Code system is ripe for rights abuses because it lacks privacy protections for personal data," Phil Robertson, the HRW deputy Asia director, said as quoted in the statement.

According to the watchdog, local businesses implement the tracing system out of fear of being deemed non-compliant with the government regulations under the recently passed law on measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Cambodia has so far registered over 2,750 cases of the coronavirus and 21 related deaths.