How coronavirus restrictions inadvertently lead to mass surveillance

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/10/17/how-coronavirus-restrictions-inadvertently-lead-to-mass-surveillance.html

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On the plus side, maybe we can find sliders…

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inadvertantly

In many cases I’m sure it is. No one seems to be thinking beyond the next ten minutes in their covid planning anyway. But it’s not like no one has pointed out these problems before, and from that point on no one creating such policies can pretend to not know. Also, it’s 2020, privacy concerns about data collection should not be surprising to anyone making policy about anything at this point. But, of course, they are.

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In the USA, we rightfully have HIPAA, a law that protects the privacy of our personal health matters. However, with this highly contagious, potentially deadly virus, I am willing to make a concession. At my work place, we recently had two outbreaks simultaneously in different offices. We have no information from management about who these unfortunate individuals are. But when I am being asked to show up for work at an office filled with 100 autonomous individuals, I am willing to let others know my Covid status. In contact tracing, unless we have the objective data collection and records, we are relying on these individuals to provide accurate information about their exposure to our HCM analysts, who are in effect amateur contact tracers. I can’t expect everyone to remember every encounter throughout the past three days, but I’d like to know if someone in that office has Covid. The minimal amount of data collected here, who is sick with Covid, and then made available to the office employees, the better. Keep a record for 2 weeks and then forget about it.

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This might be in issue in some other country, but here in the US 1) all relevant privacy issues are already being exploited (legally and illegally) by tech firms and the government and 2) it’s obvious that not one ounce of energy is going into contact tracing, so Covid-19 really has nothing to do with it.

Suddenly a privacy law Republicans care about, since they can use it as an excuse to hide covid numbers.

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That’s how privacy should work and exactly why we should have something like HIPAA for all facets of personal information. We should not only be able to opt in to various forms of useful information sharing, but more importantly, opt out and permanently delete whatever information was collected.

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In our case, there should be no opt in or opt out. We are relying on the virtues of our office mates, like honesty, and their lack of a timestamped photographic memory. Unless we have the results across the board, either temperatures or tests, and then share them, we just might be walking into a game of roulette. Now, back to the virtues of our office mates, I totally understand the concern about data collection getting out of hand, but I wouldn’t begin to suggest that would be inadvertent.

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Oh no, of course not! A crisis for many is just opportunity for a few.

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Yeah, no one wants intrusive contract tracing either. Most people, rightly, don’t trust misuse now or later. Which sucks because it is probably one thing to help stop the pandemic.

Here in Germany we need to leave our name and address when we visit a restaurant. It was made clear before that the data would only be used for contact tracing.

However, that data is now made available to the police for petty crimes.

So many people start making up names.

I have yet to see any kind of surveillance that is not being abused. Where ever you build a trough, the pigs will gather.

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It’s in the name of HIPAA that we are unable to know who has Covid in the workplace, where we must earn a living. And I am assured by management that anyone who has it has been forthcoming and accurate about who they’ve come in contact with. Right.

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Yep. That is how you destroy the public’s faith.

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I don’t believe HIPAA prohibits public health measures like contact tracing anyway? In this case, protecting public health overrides the privacy of the individual.

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No, I agree. HIPAA should not apply to this. Going further, it’s the accuracy of contact tracing that I am concerned about. I would just like to know who at my office contracted it, regardless of whether or not they inform our HR group that they were in contact with me. For example, we can use available technology to improve contact tracing, and safety. It’s done at certain food plants already. We can install remote thermal sensors to check temperatures and send notifications out regarding high reads. In my office, I have had to use a handheld infrared thermometer to screen my co-workers directly, coming into close contact with everyone in my group, so I can’t say I feel safer screening them myself. And there’s no log or data sharing that goes along with it.

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I wonder what the internet thought about Social Security when it came out.

“You will have some protection from poverty in your old age with this system…but don’t think that your Social Security ‘number’ won’t be used in all sorts of ways to keep track of you. There is no going back. #monkeyWrenchTheNumber

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And then hand over the system to a woman who was in charge of TalkTalk when they had their data breach and is manifestly incapable of running the system.

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… and is the wife of a Tory MP - but it’s even worse. A Tory MP who is on record as wanting to replace the NHS with an insurance system and who wanted Public Health England abolished.

In October 1995, she married John Penrose, who was elected MP for Weston-super-Mare in 2005 and went on to hold junior minister posts from 2010 to 2019.[37] The couple met while working at McKinsey, have two daughters, and live in London during the week and Somerset at the weekend.[38][39] Penrose sits on the advisory board of think tank ‘1828’, which calls for the NHS to be replaced by an insurance system and for Public Health England to be scrapped.[40]

PHE was abolished very recently and guess who is the head of its replacement, the National Institute for Health Protection?

Go on, guess!

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