Balancing privacy with technology use: lessons from COVID-19

Digital Pathways publication
Harshita Agrawal
Prakhar Misra
Ananth Padmanabhan
Abstract

There has been an uptick in the use of technology in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Governments have had to be swift and agile with response strategies. A variety of technology applications have been helpful in this regard. Yet, data governance and privacy principles have taken a back seat. In this paper, the authors derive a set of eight principles that can be followed by governments to balance individual privacy while deploying technology for governance purposes in emergency situations.

The authors look at three technologies used during COVID-19 in their analysis: contact tracing, AI use for drug development and disease prevention, and syndromic surveillance. They highlight informational privacy harms that these technologies penetrate through a framework of privacy proposed by Koops et al (2017) to give a set of eight principles that governments should enforce.