2021-12-23 18:08:00

Patriarch Kirill worried by tightening control over people's privacy amid pandemic

Moscow, December 23, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said he is worried by the fact that the volume and scope of private individuals' personal data collected by government and other entities has increased during the coronavirus pandemic.

"The increasing volume and scope of information being collected about a person's private life, including their health, as well as the accumulation and processing of relevant data, provide opportunities for unprecedented control over the people's lives, over their travel, purchases, preferences, even over the content of their communication. But being able to control also implies being able to limit a person's activities on almost any arbitrary basis and even to force a person to do something he or she does not consider necessary, or even considers dishonest or sinful," Patriarch Kirill said at a Moscow diocesan meeting.

Some ideas and perceptions that certain countries have adopted as obligatory "are in direct conflict with God's truth" and the biblical teaching about an individual, their dignity, and their interrelations with other people, Patriarch Kirill said.

"It's easy to anticipate that disloyalty to such ideas in a number of countries might very soon elicit a relevant response from the implacable coercive apparatus armed with the power of digital technology," he said.

He welcomed the fact that the protection of traditional religious and moral values in Russia has been upheld at the top government level.

At the same time, the patriarch acknowledged that a lot of people in Russia are concerned about the very risk that a method once legalized as a provisional measure in exceptional circumstances might later be reinstated and significantly expanded, thus restricting fundamental rights and freedoms and violating the people's privacy.

The patriarch said that, while he vaccinated last year, based on recommendations from healthcare professionals, he is convinced that vaccination has nothing to do with religious doctrines and is rather a matter of a person's personal choice, responsibility, and experience.

At the same time, both intentionally withholding full and accurate information about effects of vaccines and spreading unverified rumors and myths about effects of vaccination essentially constitutes the sin of lying, he said.