ADM Systems in the COVID-19 Pandemic: Denmark

New report: 'Automated Decision-Making Systems in the COVID-19 Pandemic: A European Perspective' by AlgorithmWatch and Bertelsmann Stiftung – a special issue of the upcoming Automating Society Report 2020, to be published in October.

Country analysis: Denmark

By Brigitte Alfter

A few months into the COVID-19 crisis, Denmark started following a test and trace strategy. The first case of COVID-19 was registered on February 27, and the first death on March 16.

From location to proximity

From early on in the pandemic, a tech solution was envisaged, and in mid-April, the government commissioned a legal assessment of a contamination tracing app, based on geodata. At that stage, the government pondered the legality of such an app, including a legal basis in the law about epidemics (Kammeradvokaten, 2020) .

Later, however, the government decided against geo-tracing and data storing and decided on a solution based on a decentralized software solution offered by Apple and Google.

Throughout May 2020, the Danish health authorities were able to open testing capacity to more of the population than before, when testing was restricted to selected groups who were tested in hospitals. It soon emerged that the authorities would store DNA information of those tested in a national database for up to ten years after the death of the person in question, while hospitals would destroy the DNA once the test had been carried out. This situation caused public controversy.

Neither the coronavirus app nor the testing question apply automated decisions [17]. Yet, the controversies around these tech-approaches in dealing with a health emergency are worth noticing and possibly studying as such.

Blocking websites without warrant

Another, little noticed, measure to react to COVID-19 was the right to block websites offering fake or overprized COVID-19 protection gear, notably to block them immediately and without warrant. A judge can then be asked to "approve" the blocking or otherwise the judge can inform the ministry of justice (L 157. 2020).

The bill introducing this and other measures were ad-hoc reactions to the COVID-19 crisis and is set to expire automatically in 2021. However, the minister of defense suggested to make the right to block websites without warrant permanent beyond the planned expiration date.

Download the full report as PDF (1 MB).

[17] Cfr. Footnote n. 2, Introduction

Automated Decision-Making Systems in the COVID-19 Pandemic: A European Perspective is a special issue of the report Automating Society 2020 by AlgorithmWatch and Bertelsmann Stiftung, to be published in October. Subscribe to the our newsletter to be alerted when the report is out.