As countries across the globe try to find successful strategies for minimizing the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, South Korea, Israel, and other nations have used tracking data from cellphone location information and facial recognition tools as essential aspects of their COVID-19 response.
In the United States, Google and Apple are teaming up to create new digital tools that could tell iPhone and Android users when they cross paths with someone who is infected via Bluetooth wireless technology. Neither the infected person’s identity nor their actual location would be revealed. Yet one concern is the virus could lead policymakers to rush headlong into adopting new digital surveillance regimes that don’t get rolled back once the pandemic is under control.
Officials could also adopt tracking tools that are later re-purposed for other things, similar to how post-9/11 surveillance and investigatory powers aimed at combating terrorism were later used to stem drug trafficking and other crimes.
Privacy advocates are urging companies and government officials to make a series of technology and policy commitments regarding any surveillance programs. Those include collecting as little data as possible and anonymizing to the greatest extent feasible, ensuring any data they collect won’t be used for purposes beyond combating the virus, and committingto ending any new programs as soon as the virus is under control.
source: Washington Post