Russian coronavirus app fines infected patients who have left their homes

Russian coronavirus app fines infected patients who have left their homes
© iStock

Russian authorities are reportedly forcing patients who have tested positive for coronavirus in Moscow to use an app on their phones that tracks users' locations and fines them if they leave their homes or break quarantine.

The Social Monitoring app uses GPS data to track users and sends various notifications throughout the day, according to The Associated Press, which added that selfies are required to prove infected patients are still in their homes.

The app was launched in early April and is mandatory for anyone infected with the virus or suspected of having it, the news service noted.

ADVERTISEMENT

Failure to supply a selfie promptly can result in a fine of approximately $56, it added.

One user, Maria Alexeyeva, told the AP that the app crashed while she was trying to take a photo, adding that she discovered accumulated fines of $620 after several days passed with repeated software troubles.

"That's more than my monthly wage," Alexeyeva said, according to the AP. "This quarantine has been hard on me. And now I have to deal with this on top of it."

Thousands of Muscovites have reportedly voiced complaints about the app wrongfully imposing fines. In just over a month, nearly 54,000 fines were issued to patients, totaling $3 million in fees for roughly 70,000 users combined.

Authorities have received more than 2,500 complaints from users voicing frustrations about unjust fines, according to the AP, and more than 200 lawsuits have been filed disputing the penalties.

Tanya Lokshina, associate director for Human Rights Watch's Europe and Central Asia division, said that despite many countries rolling out tracking apps, she had not seen as many complaints as those in Russia.

ADVERTISEMENT

"The situation is absurd. It's insane," Lokshina told the news service. "Instead of serving to contain the epidemic, it in fact serves ... to punish law-abiding citizens who actually attempt to play by the rules."

Moscow has become Russia's biggest hot spot during the pandemic, reporting nearly half of the country's more than 423,000 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.