A group of senators will introduce legislation to help protect consumer privacy as companies focus on using data to help combat COVID-19.
Governments and companies around the world have turned to big data in an effort to map the spread of the coronavirus, and try to get ahead of it. One of the most publicized efforts is being undertaken by Apple and Google, as the two companies work on a contact tracing API. The API, and subsequent apps, will use anonymous Bluetooth keys to keep track of the phones an individual has been in close proximity with. If a person tests positive, each person that has been in contact with them over the previous 14 days will be notified they have been exposed and need to quarantine.
Needless to say, many individuals have expressed concern over the privacy implications and, as a result, half of Americans have no intention of installing any contact tracing app.
To help ease concerns, and protect the privacy of Americans, Senators Roger Wicker, John Thune, Jerry Moran and Marsha Blackburn have announced their intention to introduce a data privacy bill. The goal is to provide much-needed transparency and give consumers a measure of control over how their data will be used, as well as hold businesses accountable for how they use it.
“While the severity of the COVID-19 health crisis cannot be overstated, individual privacy, even during times of crisis, remains critically important,” said Thune. “This bill strikes the right balance between innovation – allowing technology companies to continue their work toward developing platforms that could trace the virus and help flatten the curve and stop the spread – and maintaining privacy protections for U.S. citizens.”
Here’s to hoping the legislation will help prevent abuses of consumer data.