What You Need To Know: Privacy Concerns Over Contact Tracing Tool
Georgia Public Broadcasting’s new series What You Need To Know: Coronavirus provides succinct, fact-based information to help you get through the coronavirus pandemic with your health and sanity intact.
Apple and Google launched a contact tracing platform that allows public health departments to notify people when they’ve been in contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19. The CEOs of both companies say the technology can help protect people during the pandemic.
Technology can help health officials rapidly tell someone they may have been exposed to COVID-19. Today the Exposure Notification API we created with @Google is available to help public health agencies make their COVID-19 apps effective while protecting user privacy.— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) May 20, 2020
The #COVID19 Exposure Notification technology we built jointly with @Apple is now available to public health agencies in support of their contact tracing efforts. Our goal is to empower them with another tool to help combat the virus while protecting user privacy.— Sundar Pichai (@sundarpichai) May 20, 2020
Still, Georgia Tech Professor Deven Desai worries about security and privacy concerns with this technology.
Desai: Data doesn't doesn't die, right? It's there. And as long as your storage systems are functional, you can use it. I can use it. The technical term and in economics is it's non rivalrous, which is why it's so impressive and wonderful in a way. It's this issue of many people can have it, many people can use it, and you can learn different things depending on who you are.
So the idea then is, people will continually use this data. Now there's a problem which is, "well, how good is the data over time?" That's a deep question. How much does it reflect a reality about who you are or I am, from five years ago, or 10 years ago, or even maybe six months ago, pre- and post-COVID. More simply and practically: now I know where you were, and I might try and piece together things and use it for things beyond this immediate issue.
The ability to delete it and show you deleted it — and you've talked about, you know, the who owns it and controls it — I think is deep because of the fact that data can be, so many other things can be extrapolated, and so that's a big issue.