COVID-19 Civic Freedom Tracker

Keep Civic Space Healthy

This tracker monitors government responses to the pandemic that affect civic freedoms and human rights, focusing on emergency laws. For information about our methodology, click here.

For more information and analysis by region, click here.

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The COVID-19 Civic Freedom Tracker is a collaborative effort by the ICNL, ECNL, and our global network of partners, with generous research support from the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Fionnuala D. Ní Aoláin. This is an ongoing effort, and we welcome you to email us at epage@icnl.org and simona@ecnl.org to share additional resources.


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India

Mobile Phone Tracking and Mandatory Selfies to Confirm Home Quarantine

The Karnataka state government directs all persons in quarantine to send a “selfie” of themselves every hour from their home, failing which they may be housed in government-created mass quarantine centers. The directive mentions that the selfie image shall include location coordinates to inform the government of the sender's location, and that every selfie sent by a home-quarantined person will be verified by the government. The state government has also released a mobile application which reveals the addresses of COVID-19 patients. The mobile app for tracking of quarantined patients has also been adopted by the Delhi, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra governments. (See primary source or citation here)


Introduced 31 Mar 2020

Issue(s): Surveillance, Privacy

Type: law

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India

Prior Approval Required for Publishing Information about Coronavirus

The Maharashtra government prohibits organizations or individuals from publicizing information about the coronavirus without ascertaining prior clearance from relevant government health authorities, in order to avoid spread of misinformation. (See primary source or citation here)


Introduced 24 Mar 2020

Issue(s): Disinformation, Press Freedom, Expression, Access to Information

Type: order

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India

Order No. 40-3/2020-D on Measures to be Taken by States and Union Territories to Contain Covid-19

The order among other things provides for a 21-day ban on all social, political, sports, entertainment, academic, cultural, and religious gatherings. Violations of these and other provisions in the order are subject to penalty under Section 51-60 of the Disaster Management Act, and Section 188 of the Penal Code. (See primary source or citation here)


Introduced 24 Mar 2020

Issue(s): Assembly

Type: order

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India

Maharashtra Public Trust (Amendment) Ordinance

The government of Maharashtra state amends the Maharashtra Public Trust Act 1950 with Section 57A, establishing a separate “Epidemic Disease Relief Fund & Disaster Relief Fund,” on account of the coronavirus. The amendments require all public trusts to contribute a percentage of their gross annual income to the fund.

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See primary source or citation here

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Introduced 10 Apr 2020

Issue(s): Association

Type: regulation

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India

The Assam COVID-19 Containment Regulations, 2020

This set of regulations include "geographic quarantine, social distancing measures, enhanced active surveillance, testing all suspected cases, isolation of cases, home quarantine of contacts, [and] social mobilization to follow preventive public health measures." The regulations indicate that house to house surveys are to be used for surveillance purposes. Those surveys involved daily house visits by supervisory officers. Individuals believed to be infected were required to isolate at home until examination by a Rapid Response Team. Surveillance teams reported their activities daily to a central authority. All non-essential services were shut down. Containment zones were established and restrictions were imposed on movement into and out of containment zones. The regulations also indicated that "rumors and myths are to be strictly controlled by the administration." 

(See primary source or citation here)


Introduced 31 Mar 2020

Issue(s): Assembly, Disinformation, Surveillance, Press Freedom, Expression, Privacy, Access to Information, Movement

Type: regulation

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India

COVID-19 Crackdown on Journalists

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, state and national governmental actors in India have cracked down on journalists' coverage of the pandemic, and have employed lockdown measures in a way that adversely impacts journalists' ability to cover the pandemic. When writing critical coverage of governmental responses to the pandemic, journalists have been refused curfew passes, arrested under charges of spreading false information when covering governmental responses to pandemic, charged with acting negligently to spread infectious disease, physically assaulted by police, and charged with disobedience under the Epidemic Diseases Act.

(See primary source or citation here)


Introduced 3 Aug 2020

Issue(s): Disinformation, Press Freedom, Expression, Access to Information

Type: practice

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India

Arrest of Protesters and Activists

Over a matter of weeks, nearly a dozen prominent activists and potentially dozens of other demonstrators were detained while coronavirus restrictions blocked prisoners' ability to file bail applications and to meet with attorneys. Although the arrests mirrored practices that preceded the virus, the fact that the arrests were conducted during lockdown meant that activists were unable to quickly file responses to charges that human rights groups assert were brought on limited evidence. The arrests have had the effect of controlling dissenters' ability to protest social and political issues.

(See primary source or citation here)


Introduced 19 Jul 2020

Issue(s): Assembly, Expression

Type: practice

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India

Mobile Phone Tracking App

The government has made it mandatory for all central government officials to use the government-built Aarogya Setu app on their mobile phones. The app alerts users if a person in their vicinity has tested positive for Covid-19. The government has also made the app mandatory in virus "containment zones" throughout the country. The app lacks privacy protections, with the use of both Bluetooth and GPS, and with little transparency about how the data will be handled.


Introduced 1 May 2020

Issue(s): Surveillance, Privacy

Type: practice

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India

Assam Anti-Disinformation Campaign

The Government of Assam filed charges against a Bengali daily published from Silchar, for carrying a false news report about the state’s first COVID-19 patient. The case was brought against the reporter who filed the story and the publisher of the newspaper under Section 188 of IPC and provisions of Assam COVID-19 Regulation, 2020. Additionally, Assam DIPR has formed a five-member committee for monitoring and checking fake news in all forms of media. The committee includes officials from the information, health, police and disaster management departments. The committee surveilled social media accounts and created WhatsApp numbers for the purpose of tracking information circulating on Whatsapp. As of April 8, 52 cases had been registered for spreading rumours/uploading objectionable comments on social media and a total of 25 people had been arrested, while eight were detained and then released.

(See primary source or citation here)


Introduced 8 Apr 2020

Issue(s): Disinformation, Surveillance, Press Freedom, Expression, Privacy, Access to Information

Type: practice

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India

Dispersal of Sit-in and Destruction of Protest Site

Citing a ban on public gatherings because of the Covid-19 pandemic, police in Delhi broke up a months-long sit-in protest against India's controversial new citizenship law. Police bulldozers destroyed tents and billboards at the protest site. (See primary source or citation here)


Introduced 24 Mar 2020

Issue(s): Assembly

Type: practice

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India

Hand Stamps to Enforce Quarantines

The government of Maharashtra state announces a policy to stamp the hands of individuals required to self-quarantine. The stamps indicate that the stamped person must stay at home for two weeks, and indicate the dates of the person's required isolation. (See primary source or citation here)


Introduced 17 Mar 2020

Issue(s): Surveillance, Privacy

Type: practice

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This is an ongoing effort, and we welcome you to email us at epage@icnl.org and simona@ecnl.org to share additional resources.