There’s a whole ton of privacy news this week! I hope you manage to find a couple of minutes trying to catch up on it all.
For me, probably the most interesting news emanates from the stories and debates concerning contact tracing. This pandemic has Google and Apple working together, and it seems they are near a solution. The technology will mean individuals with smartphones will be able to allow their devices to speak with one another via Bluetooth. If an individual with whom you came into close proximity eventually reports they have COVID-19, then a notification will be sent to you warning that you were in contact with the person who has become ill.
Privacy advocates seem to be all over the map in terms of support for or warning against using our smartphones this way. Apple and Google are pledging there are baked-in privacy precautions throughout the entire system. But, is there enough trust out there for people to start using this? What happens if the government decides it won’t be voluntary? Will the only solution be to leave your phone in your bedside drawer until this all passes? Will it encourage people to do a little digital detox and unplug?
A little while back, I wrote about the idea of people beneficial data processing. The idea is that instead of relying on consent, our laws should allow organizations to process personal information if it is beneficial to the individual concerned. This is very similar to how they are doing it in the EU these days.
But, the question remains, is the Google/Apple project an example of people beneficial data processing? I have to admit, I’m not sure what the answer is. But, with the speed at which they are rolling this out (and, admittedly, every second counts), do we have the time to have a healthy and comprehensive debate about this? Is it going to come down to trust — as it so often does when we talk about privacy? I would love to hear your thoughts on this (after you catch up on all the other news).
If you want to comment on this post, you need to login.