The announcement of the Government’s intention to make the use of the StayAway Covid app mandatory, with fines included for those who fail to do so, triggered the alarm bells in Parliament. As early as Wednesday, BE, PAN, CDS and the Liberal Initiative (IL) spoke out against the proposal by António Costa’s Executive, even before the National Data Protection Commission (CNPD) warned that the measure “raises serious issues concerning citizens’ privacy “.
After the first attacks, even within the government party itself, questions arose. This morning, PS parliamentary leader Ana Catarina Mendes admitted that the proposal raises “constitutional doubts” and that the party wants to hear experts and entities before taking a final position on this matter.
“The app was downloaded voluntarily by those who wanted it, more than one million Portuguese, regarding its mandatory nature, we have to discuss it here in Parliament. This is the house of democracy and this is where we have to appeal to the fulfillment of rights, freedoms and guarantees “, said Ana Catarina Mendes in a statement to journalists in Passos Perdidos.
The PCP – which had not yet spoken publicly – joined the opposition: the Government’s proposal has, for the communists, several problems, starting with the “doubts” of constitutionality it raises. In response to Expresso, the party considers that the measure is “inappropriate” in terms of defining who will be able to inspect its compliance, in addition to being “doubtful” about respect for the Constitution. In addition to this, the PCP sees difficulties in guaranteeing its “effectiveness” – and the danger of generating a “false sense of security” among the people who are forced to install it.
And this universe brings yet another obstacle: for communists, it is “incomprehensible” that there is, in the work context and in schools, an inspection carried out by the police: “It is not understood how those entities could respond to the missions they already have today comply with, adding trips to schools, universities, public services, workplaces in the most varied areas and sectors ”.
Everything results, defends the PCP, of a “line of individual accountability” with which the Government now decides to combat the evolution of the pandemic – and which cannot “replace” measures such as the strengthening of the NHS.
Opposition, even in the PS (but Rio has doubts)
The PSD had already admitted that the proposal is “controversial” and this afternoon Rui Rio confirmed that the Government’s diploma as it is formulated “is not in a position to be approved”. For the leader of the Social Democrats, the “balance” of citizens’ rights, freedoms and guarantees is not guaranteed. But Rui says that this is not even his biggest concern: above all, he wants to know if it is possible to guarantee its effectiveness – remember that when he was at the last meeting of the State Council with Lobo Xavier, who was infected with the new coronavirus, Rui Rio had already considered at the time that the app was “very doubtful” since it was not notified by the application.
Thus, Rio assured that he does not want to “defeat” the proposal from the start. He admitted to presenting a diploma similar to that of the Government, only related to the mandatory use of masks on the street, but also opened the possibility of the Government diploma lowering the specialty without voting, to measure between the setbacks in the freedoms and the effectiveness of the app. For this, it should be stressed, it is necessary that all parties agree – which is not guaranteed, taking into account the many criticisms of these 24 hours.
And they were from all sides of the plenary: The PAN also acknowledged that the measure raises many doubts, but said it was still defining its vote because “very sensitive matters” are at stake and need “more in-depth analysis”. The Bloc came together, declaring itself outright against the measure, considering that by imposing the mandatory use of the app, it goes against the will of its users, which will be “unacceptable in a rule of law”. The leader of the CDS, Francisco Rodrigues dos Santos, criticized the “authoritarian circus” that the Government is setting up “around inspection” and defended that “only with a massive voluntary adhesion to the app is that it becomes an effective weapon “.
On balance, the PS should not count on the support of the majority of the parties for the proposal – if it gets to vote. And with something else: even among the socialists, strong criticisms of the Government’s proposal are beginning to be heard. The coordinator of the electoral program, João Tiago Silveira, went to SIC-Notícias to say totally against it, claiming that the PS is a party of “freedoms” and that the Government should not even have suggested this mandatory; in Expresso, the socialist deputy Isabel Moreira is clear in her vote against, speaking of a “serious political error” by António Costa.
Marcelo ready to send diploma to TC
The President of the Republic himself admitted this Thursday that the Government’s proposal is causing controversy and that he guaranteed that he is available to send the diploma to the Constitutional Court in order to dispel “insurmountable doubts”.
“I respect the Assembly of the Republic and if in the case of this debate there are doubts, the President will have no problem taking the initiative to raise the issue in the Constitutional Court”, assured Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.
Even so, the head of state – who insisted on reaffirming that he voluntarily adhered to the application – left a message for the most skeptical, stressing that there must be a “balance” at this level. “Those who ask for more stringent measures and in the face of more stringent conditions then come to invoke consequences for the economy and society. There has to be a balance that is not easy to decide on these matters”, he observed.
It was on Wednesday that António Costa announced the Government’s intention to make the installation of the StayAway Covid app mandatory in the workplace, school, in the Armed Forces, Security and Public Administration, after the country was once again in a calamity situation. .
The proposal – which provides for fines of up to 500 euros – was admitted to the Assembly of the Republic overnight and will have to be approved by deputies before being promulgated by the President of the Republic.