Category: COVID-19 and Privacy

Sun, STEM, Security: Summer Camps Go Virtual and Deal with Privacy Issues

By Samantha Cleaver

Ellen Zavian’s 14-year-old son was interested in the University of Maryland engineering Seaperch camp, but instead of being on campus, it was moved online.

Campers use materials at home and work through experiments led through Zoom calls.

Zavian, a member of the Safe Tech Committee in Montgomery County, Md., outside Washington, read the fine print and saw that campers had the option to use cameras for recordings. She liked that.

For Zavian and her family, the ability to opt out of audio and video recording helped them think through how her son would attend camp securely.

She is one of many parents who find themselves preparing for online summer camp for the first time. On the other side, many camps are moving into the uncharted territory of online programming.

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What Has US Learned from Asia’s COVID-Privacy Battle? Not Much, Experts Say

By Charles McDermid

Last of two parts.

The United States has done little to implement the data-privacy lessons learned in Asia after regional governments rolled out strict measures to control the spread of COVID-19, analysts told Digital Privacy News. 

In some Asian countries, the tough tactics — contact-tracing apps and so-called digital fencing — drew data-security concerns from an internet-savvy region long weary of hacks, leaks and enhanced surveillance. 

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Asia on the Front Lines of COVID Battle, But at What Privacy Cost?

By Charles McDermid

First of two parts.

Governments across Asia have recently deployed COVID-19 surveillance measures with the potential to reshape the world’s approach to public-health crises — and to forever alter the global debate over data privacy and protection. 

As the pandemic erupted, Asian nations moved quickly to monitor their citizens: from “digital fencing” in Hong Kong and Taiwan, to color-coded “health passports” in China and India, as well as data-collection platforms in Singapore and South Korea. 

But as the conversation shifted from emergency tactics to the eventual aftermath, many experts wondered which tools would be shut down or dismantled in the post-pandemic world, and how that uncharted process might actually work.

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Experts: COVID Pandemic Could Jeopardize 2020 Census Count

By Tammy Joyner 

Where were you on April 1, 2020?

That’s what the U.S. Census Bureau wants to know, but the coronavirus outbreak has made it tough for the agency to conduct its decennial count of America’s population.

With the global pandemic threatening a second — and possibly more virulent— wave, the bureau faces possible further delays in gathering data for the count.

“From the 60,000-foot view, the pandemic has disrupted every single 2020 Census operation — either in small ways or significantly,” Terri Ann Lowenthal, a nationally recognized expert and consultant on the census, told Digital Privacy News. “This is not a minor matter.”

Nearly three months have passed since April 1. The more time passes, the greater likelihood individual responses to the census may be inaccurate, experts said.

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In Nashville, Sharing COVID Data With Police Raises Fears Among Blacks, Immigrants

By Mary Pieper

Critics of sharing information about those who are COVID-positive with police and other first responders say it’s a privacy breach that disproportionally affects African Americans and other people of color.

“It’s a perfect storm,” Craig Klugman, professor of bioethics and health humanities at DePaul University in Chicago, told Digital Privacy News. “There’s a lot of distrust out there.”

Klugman and Nashville Metro Council member Colby Sledge in Tennessee said that even before the COVID-19 pandemic, black and immigrant communities were suspicious about how the government used their personal information.

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Q&A: Kenyan Technology Expert Malcolm Kijirah

Contact-Tracing in Africa Faces Unusual Challenges

By Maureen Nkatha

Are contact-tracing apps the answer to reducing the spread of COVID-19 infections in Kenya?

Continued concerns among citizens and digital privacy advocates have raised questions on whether Kenyans are ready to risk their privacy to curb the spread of coronavirus in the East African nation.

Among the laws in place to combat cybercrime in Kenya include last year’s Data Protection Act and the 2014 policies developed from the African Union’s Malabo Convention.

But Malcolm Kijirah told Digital Privacy News that implementing these laws remained a challenge in Kenya. A lawyer in private practice, he also is a research fellow at the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law at Strathmore University in Nairobi.

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Experts: COVID’s Financial Fallout May Require More Data Than Ever

By Joanne Cleaver 

As Americans emerge from sheltering in place, the privacy view from the front door may still be foggy. 

Grace periods that allowed homeowners and renters to skip, reduce or delay monthly housing payments won’t last forever.

But the financial fallout might, housing-finance experts told Digital Privacy News, might force Americans to reveal more personal data than ever to restructure their own housing stability.

The extra $600 a week in unemployment compensation flowing from the federal CARES Act expires next month.

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Experts: UK’s 20-Year Retention of Health Data Violates Law

By Robert Bateman

The U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS) has set up a “Test and Trace” program to help track the spread of COVID-19. 

The program, rolled out May 28, involves “contact-tracing” — gathering information about COVID-19 patients and those with whom they have been in contact, with an aim to slow the spread of the virus.

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In India, Mandatory COVID App Raises Privacy and Data-Theft Issues

By Aishwarya Jagani

The government of India last month took several steps to allay some privacy fears over its official COVID-19 contact-tracing app, Aarogya Setu.

The app’s terms of service now says the government will accept “limited liability” for data collected by the app, which had not been the case. The device also is now open-sourced, allowing independent coders and researchers to check for security flaws.

But Aarogya Setu, announced in April by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, still remains under fire: The device is mandatory for many Indian citizens, as well as for central government employees and those traveling by air or train.

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U.K. Government Urged to Publish Details of COVID Datastore Contracts

By Robert Bateman

The U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS) is creating a “COVID-19 datastore” with the help of such tech firms as Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Silicon Valley artificial intelligence company, Palantir.

In a March blog post detailing the project, Matt Gould, chief executive of government unit NHSX, said the goal was to provide “secure, reliable and timely data — in a way that protects the privacy of our citizens — in order to make informed, effective decisions.”

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