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Outpacing the Virus: Digital Response to Containing the Spread of COVID-19 While Mitigating Privacy Risks

– Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics

  • Report
  • Posted by Good ID team (Good ID)
  • 9 May 2020

This report examines contact tracing as a response to coronavirus, and how it can be implemented without threatening people’s privacy and civil liberties

Contact tracing identifies and alerts people who have come into contact with an infected person, in order to enable them to self-isolate immediately, and lower the overall number of people who are exposed to the virus. It is hoped that contact tracing would be effective as a response to the pandemic and allow social distancing measures to be relaxed.

“We believe it is possible to deploy a system that is voluntary, respects privacy and agency, and is resistant to fraud and abuse, while achieving the ‘smart’ testing loop necessary to prevent another wave of infection or continuous lockdown.”

This report outlines the different possibilities for contact tracing apps and their potential risks and benefits, such as Bluetooth, GPS and Wifi systems, and combined approaches. It concludes that there is reason to believe contact tracing, in combination with other methods, can help battle COVID-19, and that it can be designed in a way which does not require people to give up too much of their privacy.

Proactive use of intentionally designed technology can support voluntary participation from the public toward the goals of smart testing, effective resource allocation, and relaxing some of [the] physical distancing measures, but only when it guarantees and assures an individual’s complete control over disclosure, and use of data in the way that protects individual rights

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