Senator Edward Markey, an online privacy advocate, stated in a letter released Wednesday that any digital coronavirus contact tracing ought to be voluntary, transparent and collect only the data required to identify who might be at risk of contracting the respiratory disease that has killed over 45,000 people in the USA.
Markey urged President Trump’s administration to balance public health needs as states seek to allow companies to reopen their doors with the privacy rights of people who may be monitored.
Alphabet’s Google and Apple said recently they had been partnering on technology to create smartphone apps that will help identify individuals who have crossed paths with a contagious person and alert them.
Markey urged that any contact tracing be limited to what’s needed to track disease exposure, include funding in public health, and be voluntary, subject to enforceable guidelines, and transparent about what data is collected and what happens to it.
He urged that a minimum of data being collected and that it’s kept securely and discarded in a timely manner.
Markey’s concerns echoed those of fellow Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, who has stated that the companies face a rightfully skeptical public in terms of privacy.
Republican Senator Josh Hawley, a frequent critic of the Big Tech corporations, sent a letter Tuesday to Google’s chief Sundar Pichai, and Apple CEO Tim Cook to demand that they be responsible for any privacy breaches in contact tracing.