The recent pandemic has thrown a wrench in the progress made around the world in strengthening privacy rights.
While there is no question that social distancing and quarantining programs do a great deal of good in helping to “flatten the curve”, they are blunt tools that have profound, and oftentimes, devastating psychological, social, and economic impacts. The world cannot stay at home indefinitely, waiting on scientists to discover a vaccine or build out rapid testing procedures, or for society to develop “herd immunity.” Obviously, a medium-term solution needs to be developed.
One such solution is the development of contact tracing applications, which are being rolled out in countries around the world. The question we consider in this piece is how to develop applications and processes, while still preserving the important gains in privacy and data protection that have been made thus far. The good news is that regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and recent guidance from regulatory bodies, may provide us with a framework for developing a sensible solution.