Category: COVID-19 and Privacy

Uproar in UK Over Police Getting COVID Self-Isolation Data

By Robert Bateman

Police in England will receive the personal information of people told to self-isolate because of COVID-19, as part of a policy that aims to increase compliance with pandemic emergency laws.

But experts in epidemiology, social psychology — even policing — told Digital Privacy News that the practice ultimately could harm efforts to fight COVID.

“Collective pandemic response is completely dependent on public trust,” said Deepti Gurdasani, senior lecturer in clinical epidemiology and statistical genetics at Queen Mary’s University of London.

Continue reading “Uproar in UK Over Police Getting COVID Self-Isolation Data”

Workers, Homeowner Associations Square Off Over Rules in Pandemic

By Joanne Cleaver 

A home-based doggy boarding business nearly cost Dianna Sells her house.  

Sells didn’t realize that her retirement business of taking in sedate older dogs for short periods violated the rules and regulations of the homeowners association (HOA) in which her house is situated in Round Rock, Texas.

After all, her yard is big, the geriatric dogs were quiet — and many of her clients were neighbors. 

Then someone — Sells told Digital Privacy News she still doesn’t know who — complained to the association’s board.

Continue reading “Workers, Homeowner Associations Square Off Over Rules in Pandemic”

Using Subpoenas in COVID Raise Privacy, Overpolicing Questions

By Tammy Joyner

Last of two parts.

The seven-month-old COVID-19 pandemic has raised a thorny ethical issue: When is it necessary to override a person’s privacy? And is policing obstinate behavior during a pandemic ethical?

“There’s very much this tension between individual privacy and protecting the public,” Kelly Hills, a bioethicist and co-principal of the Rogue Bioethics consultancy in Lowell, Mass., told Digital Privacy News. “We’re still working out what it means to do public-health ethics.”

Americans total 4% of the world’s population but account for nearly one in four of the world’s coronavirus cases — and a little more than one in five of the deaths globally, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

Continue reading “Using Subpoenas in COVID Raise Privacy, Overpolicing Questions”

NY Suburb Turns to Subpoenas to Stop Parties During Pandemic

By Tammy Joyner

First of two parts.

Tracking a killer is exhaustive work, especially when witnesses won’t cooperate.

Partygoers in the tony New York suburb of Rockland County recently found that out the hard way.

After being stonewalled, Rockland public-health officials in July served a group of obstinate revelers with subpoenas that carried a $2,000-a-day fine.

Rockland County contact-tracers, or disease detectives, had learned that some residents had contracted COVID-19 after attending a party of as many as 100 20-somethings in mid-June.

Continue reading “NY Suburb Turns to Subpoenas to Stop Parties During Pandemic”

UK Politicians Demand Privacy Regulator Enforce Law Against Government

By Robert Bateman

The U.K. government has shown “scant regard to both privacy concerns and data protection duties” — and the country’s privacy regulator has failed to protect the public’s personal information, according to a letter from 22 opposition politicians.

The Aug. 21 letter, signed by 22 members of Parliament from four political parties, was addressed to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) — the “data protection authority” responsible for enforcing privacy law in the U.K.

The office is headed by Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham.

The government has been accused of breaching privacy law on numerous occasions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, including in July, when it admitted that it had not assessed the privacy risks involved in its “test and trace” program properly.

Continue reading “UK Politicians Demand Privacy Regulator Enforce Law Against Government”

Districts Implement Lessons from Spring Emergency Online Learning

By Samantha Cleaver

Last of a series.

School districts across the country spent the summer hedging bets on how the 2020-21 year would begin amid COVID-19.

Now, as students fill backpacks to return to school in-person or online, Digital Privacy News is examining how this year will impact students’ and teachers’ privacy.

“We are behind the eight-ball,” said Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute. “These are conversations we should have been facilitating in May and June.”

Today’s Digital Privacy News report examines what school districts have learned from the spring online learning season brought on by COVID.

When Loudoun County Public Schools in Virginia had to shift to emergency learning in the spring, Vincent Scheivert, assistant superintendent for digital innovation, found that the available applications often weren’t ready — particularly when it came to privacy.

Continue reading “Districts Implement Lessons from Spring Emergency Online Learning”

Recording, Sharing Lessons Spur Debate on How to Record Right

By Samantha Cleaver

Second of a series.

School districts across the country have spent the summer hedging bets on how the 2020-21 year would begin amid COVID-19.

Now, as students fill backpacks to return to school in-person or online, Digital Privacy News is examining how this year will impact students’ and teachers’ privacy.

“We are behind the eight-ball,” said Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute. “These are conversations we should have been facilitating in May and June.”

Today’s report discusses the privacy dilemmas involved in recording and sharing student lessons.

Monica Herman (name has been changed) teaches fourth grade in New Jersey. She is teaching completely online this fall.

In previous years, Herman used Screencastify to record lessons of her voice alongside a text or slide deck. Then, she posted the videos in Google Classroom to share with students.

However, thinking toward this year, Herman questioned the privacy implications of streaming live lessons from her classroom.

Continue reading “Recording, Sharing Lessons Spur Debate on How to Record Right”

Unenforceable Urban Legend?

Teacher Waivers for COVID Raise Privacy Fears as Schools Re-Open for New Year

By Samantha Cleaver

First of a series.

School districts across the country have spent the summer hedging bets on how the 2020-21 year would begin amid COVID-19.

Now, as students fill backpacks to return to school in-person or online, Digital Privacy News is examining how this school year will impact students’ and teachers’ privacy.

“We are behind the eight-ball,” said Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute. “These are conversations we should have been facilitating in May and June.”

In this three-day series, Digital Privacy News examines issues that have emerged at the start of this school year.

Today’s report addresses liability waivers that teachers are being asked to sign to protect districts should they or their students contract COVID.

As schools start to re-open and teachers return, school boards, districts, even Congress are thinking about liability.

Continue reading “Unenforceable Urban Legend?”

Public PPP Loan Data Strips Anonymity From Private Firms

By Joanne Cleaver

Fuse Financial Partners received a $150,000 potentially forgivable loan through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), created by Congress as part of the federal CARES Act.

And the whole world knows about it.

David Worrell, the firm’s managing partner, used the money as Congress intended: to continuing paying his 10 employees.

Continue reading “Public PPP Loan Data Strips Anonymity From Private Firms”

GOP Using ‘Smart Badges’ at Convention, Raising Privacy Flags

By Joanne Cleaver 

Tagged so they can be bagged.

Participants in the Republican National Convention next week will wear electronic “smart badges” that document their movements to speed contact-tracing should anyone subsequently develop COVID-19.

Some elements of the scaled-down convention will be held in Charlotte, N.C., Monday through Thursday. Attendees will be assigned badges that communicate with one another to document where the badge-wearers are, and who they move close to, within the confines of the location. 

Continue reading “GOP Using ‘Smart Badges’ at Convention, Raising Privacy Flags”