Lawmaking is usually a long and tedious process. Proposals for new laws, or adjustments to old ones, often take years to finalize. The global COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 has taught us that this process is sped up when states are confronted with an urgent crisis.
Obligatory masks, lockdowns, curfews, the prohibition of public events, social distancing rules, travel bans… These are all far-reaching legal measures that have been adopted at record braking speeds in countries hit by the virus.
On top of being far-reaching, these measures have almost solely been created at the state level. An obvious problem arises: how can the global community keep track of these various and ever-changing measures?
The Global COVID-19 policy response: a meta-legal research initiative
Over at FutureLaw, researchers have developed a platform that seeks to map how countries around the world have responded to the pandemic. FutureLaw has gathered a great amount of data about the policy responses in almost every country and presents them in slick visualizations.
The main goal of this initiative is to give a general overview of national responses to the pandemic. It facilitates a comparative analysis and can aid in identifying what works, and what doesn’t. This kind of research might turn out to be vital in the global fight against COVID-19.
The long term effects of far-reaching policy measures
But the utility of this research doesn’t stop there. What makes this initiative even more important from a legal perspective?
Any legal professional will tell you that the wave of measures taken in response to the pandemic is unprecedented. And although the pandemic will pass, the return to a before-COVID-19 legal situation isn’t so evident. What is being done to assess the long term danger and systemic impacts of these far-reaching policy responses?
The global COVID-19 policy response initiative seeks to raise awareness of this specific issue.
“This storm will pass. But the choices we make now could change our lives for years to come.”Noah Yuval Harari
Example: privacy and data protection
An obvious example of the possible long term effects of COVID-19 policy is the possible infringement in privacy law. For instance, the EU has put a lot of emphasis on privacy rights and data protection in recent years, which resulted a.o. in the world-renown GDPR directive.
In recent months we have seen policy in EU member states which requires citizens to hand over personal information in order to combat COVID-19. Multiple EU governments now collect data on its citizens, we have even seen the inception of so-called tracker apps. The question remains: is this not an infringement on recently adapted privacy and data protection laws?
Will we be able to screw back these measures and ensure adequate privacy and data protection after the pandemic?
Final words on the global COVID-19 response
There are many other examples to be made. These possible infringements on fundamental rights might or might not be necessary to combat COVID-19. But, the importance of going back to our original position is evident. That’s why we should all applaud initiatives like The Global COVID-19 policy response, they give an initial push to a very important issue in the years to come.
Here at bestoflegaltech.com we follow any breach of fundamental rights and other great developments in lawmaking with great scrutiny. We will keep a close watch on every legal issue raised in the aftermath of COVID-19 and concerning the policy adapted to combat it. Follow our blog for further updates.