Privacy and the Coronavirus
There is no doubt that in this beginning of 2020 humanity as a whole is living a common challenge never seen before, facing an exceptional and unique situation: the expansion of the COVID19 pandemic has made everyone stop due to the risk of contagion. How does the Coronavirus affect our privacy?
The number of deaths and infections are rapidly increasing, and Spain is currently one of the most greatly affected countries.
I hope that this situation will make us rethink many of the things we do in our daily lives, both personally and professionally and make us consider our relationship with each other and with the world around us.
Beyond these reflections, the world of privacy is not exempt from this phenomenon and I would like to focus here on two specific aspects.
In the need to control the mobility of the population, many governments, including Spain, are establishing measures to obtain geolocation data collected by operators when providing their service: Order SND/207/2020 of 27 March, foresees the sharing of anonymised data between the companies and government agencies to control the lockdown of the population.
The Spanish Data Protection Authority itself went a little further, and in a recent report stated that data from the mobile phones of people infected can be processed in order to fight the pandemic, in order to learn their whereabouts using GPS technologies.
It goes without saying that the right to life and health will always take priority over data protection rights. But it is also true that in these times of emergency, there is a common problem against which everyone would be willing to give whatever it takes, which is when privacy has been more extensively exposed and threatened.
This ocurred with the 9/11 attacks when in the name of security, many privacy rights were lost never to return. As one of 7 Privacy by Design Principles indicates, it shouldn’t be about health or privacy, it should be how we make both interests compatible.
With the widespread closure of businesses and companies, new ways to work and communicate have had to be explored and implemented, often in haste and without a specific plan: remote access from the home with domestic networks, videochat, and cloud services to store and share data, etc. Cybercriminals are taking advantage of the situation and their attacks have increased significantly during lockdown.
Privacy and the Coronavirus
At times like these, companies and organisations are understanding that complete digitisation is irreversible and essential, but all these processes have to be made with proper guarantees in order to ensure security and confidentiality. It must be possible for privacy and the coronavirus to coexist.
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