Digital surveillance and smartphone technology may help curb a coronavirus pandemic-but some activists are concerned that it could cause lasting harm to privacy and digital rights.
From China to Singapore to Israel, the government has ordered electronic surveillance of citizens in an effort to limit transmission. In Europe and the United States, technology companies have begun sharing "anonymous" smartphone data to better track the outbreak.
These moves prompted intensive research by privacyists who recognized the need for technology to save lives while worrying about potential lives.
"Governments around the world are demanding extraordinary new surveillance capabilities to curb the spread of the virus," said the Electronic Frontier Foundation in a post posted online.
"Many people infringe our privacy, prevent us from speaking. And put different burdens on vulnerable groups. The government must prove that these powers are actually effective, science-based, necessary and proportionate."
These measures vary from place to place. Hong Kong ordered people from overseas to wear tracking bracelets, while Singapore had a dedicated digital detective team to monitor those in isolation.
Israeli security agency Shin Bet has begun using advanced technology and telecommunications data to track civilians.
Perhaps the most stringent move, China provided people with smartphone codes in green, yellow, and red, identifying where citizens can and cannot go.
Human Rights Watcher Freedom House said that China is also one of the countries that stepped up its review of the crisis.
"We have observed many worrying signs that authoritarian regimes use COVID-19 as an excuse to suppress independent speech, Strengthening surveillance and otherwise restricting basic rights goes beyond the organization's president, Michael Abramowitz.
Some activists cite Sets a precedent for the attacks of September 11, 2001, which opened the door to more invasive surveillance in the name of national security.
"These tools may become standardized and the Brookings Institution Technology Innovation Center is responsible Darrell West said
But even some digital privacy defenders have said that using some available data to control the epidemic may be prudent. 19659002] "I have no objection to using data or technology to fight this epidemic," said Ryan Calo, a researcher at the University of Washington affiliated with the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford University.
"The problem with surveillance in emergencies is
Calo says this is a difficult trade-off, noting that even the consciousness of being tracked or monitored can affect people's sense of privacy and security. Personal safety.  An application for this purpose
Much of the controversy has focused on smartphone location tracking, a sensitive issue that has been at the heart of many privacy disputes.
Since the beginning of the pandemic
A MIT researcher determined whether people "crossed the road" with an infected person (although it only works in this case), because the virus is missing and has been developed Several applications.
Researchers at Cornell University have developed another application that allows users to anonymously share their location and COVID-19 status to receive alerts about other nearby cases.
New York-based technology company Unacast created a "socially isolated" scorecard, which uses the location of a smartphone to determine how much people respect suggestions, to stay safe Away.
"Knowing whether people may help alienate society while practicing medicine. Calo said.
But he insists that crowdsourcing data on infections can be" full of inaccuracies "and can give people a A false sense of security.
A group of university researchers have developed a preliminary version of the application designed to enable people to share location and infection data using Bluetooth technology on their smartphones without compromising personal privacy.
"We designed it so that if someone has COVID, there is a way to send an alert (for someone nearby) without knowing who that person is. "Said Tina White, a graduate student at Stanford University and co-founder of the Covid-watch application.
White said she and other researchers came up with the concept
she acknowledged that the application would only As useful as the number of people using it, but she said the technology is being made available for free in development and suggested that "Android and Apple can use this option in system updates" to ensure widespread adoption.