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How do we think about the UK lockdown debate? Show more Show less
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The coronavirus pandemic has led to unprecedented isolation measures throughout the world. One effect has been the creation of ideological blocs across traditional party lines, lobbying for different approaches to containing the virus. UK lockdown came into effect on March 23, shutting down non-essential business and movement outside the home, bar a single daily outing for exercise. Critics variously describe this decision as too late, too little, too much and overblown. So, who are these groups, what do they stand for, and why?

The nanny state position, or 'Let the state look after us' Show more Show less

This approach believes that the role of the state is to look after its citizens. It considers alternatives to lockdown, which give the state control to monitor the movements of its people for their own good.
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We should relax the lines between the public and the private

South Korea has managed to control the virus by disseminating a phone app alerting citizens when they have passed someone infectious. Handing personal information and disclosing one's movements to the government may be the most effective solution. Proponents include Chair of the WHO Dale Fisher and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
covid health politics

Context

The global outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in early 2020 led to national and international measures of social distancing, lockdowns and quarantines. Research and consideration is now directed towards finding alternatives to national lockdowns that will equally insure the reduction of transmission rates amongst individuals.

The Argument

There are alternatives to total freedom or total lockdown that are proven to work, if we are willing to hand over our data to the government. [1] With the help of technology and tracking, it is possible to create a transparent system allowing citizens to be informed about the development in their area. This allows them to avoid possibly risky spots. For instance, the government of South Korea has launched an app that 90% of the population uses. It tracks the routes taken by infected patients and publishes them anonymously. Furthermore, infected individuals or foreign travellers have to report their symptoms to the app.[1] Individuals who have been at the same places at the same time or who are in proximity of the infected person are alerted by text messages that have no opt out function. These location-based emergency messages are supposed to create a bigger transparency for the population so that they can assess the risk of going somewhere according to precise data. In addition, this approach allows the government to centrally compile data which helps them to recognise trends and hotspots more quickly; increasing their reaction time. [2] Other countries like Germany have launched similar applications that still have to prove if they will be as effective as in South Korea. Due to bigger privacy concerns, many citizens are reluctant to use the app which would make it less efficient as it can only function with a certain rate of input by the citizens. [3]

Counter arguments

1. Major privacy concerns arise with the use of a tracking app. Despite the data being fairly anonymous, people might be able to identify someone in their surroundings for having the virus and use that information against them. [1] 2. No one knows who long the private health records that are compiled in this context will be stored by the government. [4] 3. There is the possibility of the private data to be hacked.[4] 4. Such an app is only efficient if the emergency alerts are really taken seriously and people avoid certain areas. If the alerts are too frequent, they will lose importance and will be ignored. [1]

Proponents

Framing

In the case of an emergency, it is okay to give away personal data for the sake of increased safety.

Premises

[P1] Safety weighs higher than personal freedom [P2] Collective efforts for a common good are more important than personal rights and freedoms.

Rejecting the premises

[P1] than Personal freedom weighs higher than safety. [P2] Personal rights and freedoms are more important than collective efforts for a common good.

References

  1. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/04/korea-smartphone-apps-tracking-coronavirus-won-stop-buzzing-200408074008185.html
  2. https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-52681464
  3. https://www.dw.com/en/loved-or-loathed-how-germanys-coronavirus-tracking-app-is-faring/a-53959165
  4. https://www.brusselstimes.com/opinion/108594/corona-apps-south-korea-and-the-dark-side-of-digital-tracking/

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This page was last edited on Friday, 17 Jul 2020 at 10:12 UTC

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