Bogotá’s Claudia López retracts obligatory registration of contact-tracing App

Having announced on Monday that all Bogotá residents must register personal information on the district’s web portal Bogotá Cuidadora in order to be able to receive district assistance, certification of mobility as well as inform local authorities on coronavirus symptoms during the additional two weeks of quarantine, Mayor Claudia López was forced to backtrack Tuesday with the “obligatory” registration. Besides citizens relinquishing data from an identification number to email, home address and date of birth, Mayor López’s original decision shows political inexperience when it comes to enforcing quarantine by over-ruling privacy laws protected under the Constitution.

While for the majority of Bogotanos, the district’s APP GABO and web platform are inoffensive instruments to contact-trace the movements of asymptomatic citizens and keep confined those age 70 and older as well as high-risk groups, storing personal information in a database that can be passed on to third parties or hacked puts citizens at risk, especially at a moment of increased criminal activity with the pandemic.

Already subject to decrees-upon-decrees and lockdown since March 20, while residents of many large cities are returning to their new “normal” with personal freedoms restored by their governments – in countries where the death toll reached tens of thousands – and outlining a clear route to economic recovery, in Bogotá, the pandemic narrative has become one of policing on the street and in cyberspace.

With hefty fines being handed-out by police to those who can’t justify their mobility and don’t socially distance – even if accompanying children – the patience of Bogotanos in their third month of Obligatory Preventive Isolation should be motivating Mayor López to facilitate everyday activities that don’t present a danger to public health.

Reactions to López’s retraction was swift on social media with citizens recalling recent incidents with the government of President Iván Duque in which she tried to over-rule an executive order to allow construction workers and manufacturers back to work. And critics from both sides of the political divide also slammed López for another bout of improvisation and imposing more regulations before consulting legal experts. Among those who challenged López’s about-face is left-wing leader Gustavo Petro, tweeting: “Bogotá Ciudadora can easily, without a democratic culture, be a police autocracy, which already is showing its face in the city.” Petro’s political ally, Senator Gustavo Bolívar went to claim that “López is building a database for future campaigns.”

On Tuesday, Bogotá registered 373 additional cases of COVID-19 putting the capital’s total at 10,743. Colombia’s has 31,833 coronavirus patients 2ith 11,142 recovered.