Several countries are managing and mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic with techniques that appear to trade off a citizens' right to privacy. Honduras is using the digits of a citizen's unique ID to tell them when and where they can leave their residence to run certain errands. Israeli and U.S. companies are working with their governments to consider tracking people's movements with their mobile phones to identify who else might be infected once a carrier is diagnosed.
While these sorts of applications clearly benefit public health, they just as clearly raise potential for abuse and invasion of privacy. Naturally, technology might be able to counter the very problems it raises. Blockchain applications can store all the information needed for various purposes on your mobile phone (your ID, your health records, your movements), and you can make it available only to those users who actually need it - and only the information they need.
We are a long way from actually developing this sort of integrated, sophisticated application, but these sorts of changes come much faster when you MUST have them as a society - and we are arguably at this point now.
Figuring out how to balance individual privacy rights with public protection is always tricky, and clearly getting much more complicated. We do have tools to help, though. Let's start what I expect will be a long set of conversations. What are your thoughts?
“What might it look like if, later down the line, whether you’ve tested positive for coronavirus has an impact on how people view you?” she said. “When you’re designing inclusively, these are questions you’ve asked yourself from the beginning.”