There are no easy answers here. If I had the virus and Apple could dip into the location history of my phone and see who I may have come into contact with, and get to those people for early diagnosis, I might want them to do that, right?
“According to published reports, the US government is in talks with tech companies that include Facebook and Google along with health experts. The discussions concern how to use smartphone location data to combat the novel coronavirus, also known as Covid-19. The discussion also includes tracking whether citizens are keeping a safe distance to stop the virus from spreading.”
On the other hand, if I agree to that, just how much more information does the government have about my whereabouts, and how will that be used? What if, while looking at my location history, they discover I ate at the same cafe as a suspected terrorist? What if they discover I attended the same meeting as a political opponent? How often would this become an issue for many people across the globe?
And, more importantly, if this kind of program is put in place, will it ever end? What’s the next virus where they’d want to do this? What other “public risk” would we start tracking? Use of fossil fuels? Sex workers? Where would you draw the line?
In the midst of this pandemic, we’ve redrawn a lot of lines and we’ve blurred some other lines in the interest of public health. For the most part, I’m OK with that, on a temporary basis. I might even agree that when this is all over, there are some things we’re doing now temporarily that we may want to continue doing, but we also need to be careful about leaving things in place that should only ever be used in a public emergency, and not defining down the idea of a public emergency. Some of the programs discussed in this article should definitely not be left in place, if they should be implemented at all. But I can’t imagine anyone having this much information and then turning it off willingly. It’s too tempting. We need to remove that temptation.
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