When the Coronavirus pandemic worsens, privacy commissioners are ready to find health officials to remove data restrictions. A review of policy changes shows the world that data protection agencies prioritize life over privacy, which may be a sign of what is to come in the US. In Hong Kong, the city's Privacy Commissioner said in February that authorities would find some people with a smartphone tracking permit. In the UK, the Office of the Information Commissioner gave a consultation on the implementation until March 12. The Global Privacy Assembly, a coalition of more than 130 data protection authorities, has noticed changes around data privacy caused by pandemics in at least 27 countries.The organization assigned the committee to ensure the personal data is not abused.
The GPA's executive committee said in a statement “We are confident that data protection requirements will not stop the critical sharing of information to support efforts to tackle this global pandemic. The universal data protection principles in all our laws will enable the use of data in the public interest and still provide the protections the public expects."
Changes in the guidelines vary across countries, but a clear trend has emerged. In areas where the situation is worse, officials focus on public health rather than privacy. This has prompted some governments to use phone location data to track the spread of the Coronavirus and to determine how to combat the virus-causing respiratory illness. COVID-19 Affected Communities.
This method, used in China and South Korea, has been hailed as successful. The World Health Organization has discussed how public health surveillance can be used to warn of outbreaks and to allow effective policies.
"We haven't seen an urgent enough escalation in testing, isolation and contact tracing, which is the backbone of the COVID-19 response." Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general f WHO said in a media briefing. "You cannot fight a fire blindfolded. And we cannot stop this pandemic if we don't know who is infected." He added.
But tracking carries privacy risks because location data can reveal a lot of sensitive information about our lives. Although the US considers similar measures, it can rely on data it collects from Facebook, Google and other companies. It raised concerns in some legislators, including Democrat Sen. Ed Markie of Massachusetts.