Contact tracing is seen as a key tool in the fight against COVID, but it has serious implications for individual privacy. In this video, learn about contact tracing methods being introduced by technology companies and the way you can engage in the fight against COVID without giving up your privacy.
- Over the past few months, our lives as citizens and employees, managers, and even as parents, have been fundamentally changed by COVID-19. One of the most effective ways to stop the spread of this virus is public health surveillance, which serves the community at large, but threatens individual privacy. In the past, public health surveillance was typically conducted by contact tracing, with healthcare workers privately interviewing individuals to determine their health status and trace their movements. Today, though, we have technology, and governments and other entities can use it to track the virus. However, the use of technology raises even greater threats to privacy than the manual methods of contact tracing used in the past. For example, in Israel, the government is accessing the location data of millions of mobile phone users to trace people who have been in proximity to confirmed patients. South Korea has collected sensitive information from COVID patients, such as their age and gender, and even the places they visited before testing positive, and then sharing that information, along with the patient's name and occupation, with the public. This has allowed for discrimination and even harassment in some cases. In China, they have taken the privacy invasive step of collecting citizens' location and online payment history so that local police can watch who's breaking quarantine rules. They've even placed cameras to check on people in quarantine to make sure that they are not leaving their location. In addition to what governments are doing, private companies are also taking steps to track COVID. One of the best-known examples is the contact tracing app developed by Apple and Google. But there are many others out there, too. In Michigan, a state health agency was able to track hundreds of individuals who protested stay-at-home orders at the state capitol by gathering data from an app the protestors had downloaded. While none of the protestors had agreed to their data being shared to track COVID, they had opted in to location sharing in an app that shared the data on to third parties, such as the state agency. So now that you're aware of some of the potential privacy risks raised by COVID tracking, please join me for the next course, where we'll explore some of the technologies being used.
- Describe the risks of impaired privacy.
- Explain how technology can be used to track location and proximity.
- Describe precautions you should use when working from home.
- Explain precautions you should take before allowing your child to use devices with internet connectivity.