Moroccan police have started using a mobile application in recent days to track violators of the kingdom’s lockdown in response to the coronavirus, according to the official MAP news agency.
The application was built by developers from the country’s national security force DGSN and its launch was confirmed by MAP on Tuesday.
It aims to let police “know which checkpoints a person has passed through, allowing them to trace their movements,” MAP reported, citing DGSN officials.
The application uses national identity card numbers but does not allow police access to citizens’ personal information and the storage of data “conforms to the rigorous security criteria used by the DGSN in its databases”, according to MAP.
Officials say more than 53,000 people have been arrested since the start of a public health state of emergency on March 20. About half of those arrested were then detained to face prosecution.
Those found guilty of violating lockdown measures face one to three months in prison, a fine of up to 115 euros, or both.
Morocco’s data protection authority CNDP said it was “aware through the media of the government’s plan to implement contact tracing application”.
“This announcement raised questions and even public concern around the risks of deploying a surveillance state in case the use of this application does not respect human rights or is not legally framed,” it said.
It called for transparency from authorities while praising their “proactive” response to the pandemic.
Local media has previously reported on the appetite of Moroccan authorities for high tech surveillance gadgetry for spying on the populace, citing documents made public by WikiLeaks-style hacks.
Amnesty International expressed its concern over illegal surveillance of Moroccan human rights defenders in a report last October that said the kingdom was using powerful spyware from the Israeli NSO Group.