Chapter

Can Technology and Privacy Co-Exist in a Pandemic?

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Abstract

This chapter assesses whether the short-term benefits of using digital technology to suppress the Covid-19 pandemic justify the detrimental long-term consequences for privacy. It addresses this complex question through an inevitably incomplete discussion of privacy data protection laws, technology design, and trust in governments and technology providers as well as cultural understandings of privacy. After outlining the technology-assisted measures in various regions in Asia, the chapter highlights major privacy concerns and looks at a number of trade-offs that emerge from the use of technology to contain the spread of the virus. These trade-offs exemplify the risks of adoption of just-in-time software technologies for public health purposes without fully understanding their impact on users and of potentially erroneous data-driven decisions and the involuntary collection of personal data. They also raise important policy questions in the dynamic and fast-shifting context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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