How do you balance privacy and public health in a pandemic?

Digital contact tracing involves a level of surveillance that could make a lot of people uncomfortable, especially given the involvement of large technology companies with spotty records on privacy. However, contract tracing represents one of the most potent methods for combating the pandemic and is only useful if implemented on a wide scale. How do we balance privacy and public health in these times?
Environmental health Occupational and Public health Occupational health Public health Risk assessment
Personal privacy is absolutely critical to getting contract tracing to work, regardless of the public health need, due to the lack of trust in large technology companies and, indeed, in some government agencies (global perspective).    The collection should be done by a private company or government agency set up solely for this work.  A private company must be a stand alone company, unowned and uncontrolled by and existing technology company.   A company would be paid solely for its work in contract tracing (e.g., paid per person enrolled, or some other measurable criteria) and subject to audit.   Any government agency set up to do this must also be independent of an existing agency and free from political interference.   As with a private company, its work must be subject to outside auditing.   All data needs to be anonymized to the fullest extent possible and the data retention be limited by law to a defined period (e.g., 2 years or so).   Anonymized data may be used by researchers ONLY if the individual providing the data agrees in writing to this use of their data.   Essentially a modified version of informed consent.
Ignacio J. Sánchez Lázaro
Of course privacy is important, one of the most, but public health is also important. Goverments need to guarantee that privacy is achieved in all aspects, but they also hace to promote every action in order to improve life of their citizens. I think that privacy and development can be achieved, and there are multiple ways of managind data, big data, without affecting the privacy of citizens. Big data will be of great help in the future to achieve a better global health. 
Clement G. Yedjou
It is important to engage in clear communication with the public and explain the benefit of the data collection. Obtain informed consent from the individual so that he/she can be aware of how the data will be used. Then, be transparent about the study design, data collection methods, purposes, and use of data.  

Amal Saad-Hussein
In case of pandemics, public health and population safety will be the most important target for most of the population and policy makers, even if personal privacy is essential.
Rafia Azmat
To avoid the effect of Covid 19, personal privacy was significant, including personal face-to-face contact, keeping away from public places wearing masks. For the protection of the health of people, governments and institutions should put restrictions on movement and develop awareness among people. 
Dr Paul Vaucher
I think the question should be how could we collect information on epidemiological networks without identifying or locating people?

To answer this question, we first need to clarify a few points.

  1. What do we need the data for?
  2. What data is essential/indispensible to achieve this goal?

Contact tracing can be used for many purposes. One of which is to warn people that they are potentially infected, another to let the system know if an agent is spreading somewhere. The level of detail of this location does not need to be very high.

I would go arround creating first a density map of the region of interest. In other words, I would create clusters of about 100 individuals whose size depends of the population density and then focus on each of these small clusters. Each individual within this cluster is given a random tag that keeps them anonymous but does identify them from the cluster. Mouvement would not be tracked but only contacts to other cluster members. Individuals can personnaly let the system know their "avatar" has been infected" and "when". Other IDs that were in contact can then be warned but only they hold the key of knowing who their "avatar" is.

This would then make it possible to keep track of a disease by respecting privacy.
Mohammad Asaduzzaman Chowdhury
The Covid-19 pandemic has created a heated discussion about data gathering, processing, and control. In the absence of a global standard for data management, nations around the world have taken a variety of techniques to using data in pandemic governance, particularly in the testing and tracking of Covid-19 and surveillance mechanisms for monitoring quarantines. The pandemic has unintentionally unleashed new monitoring tactics as it has sped the contactless manner of living, increasing the digital domain of the global economy at an unprecedented rate. whether it's neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, or other negative effects. The collecting and analysis of data for pandemic response is at the heart of the policy discussion. The preferred techniques to data governance have shown significant disparities between countries. Others have resisted or are unsure about deploying data with defined policy purposes. A country's approach to using data to combat Covid-19 is influenced by a number of factors. Different policy choices and outcomes have resulted from different jurisdictions' laws on combating contagious illnesses and establishing personal data protection. During the pandemic, government officials and businesses had to strike a compromise between two competing priorities: public health and personal privacy protection. Some actions aimed at limiting the virus's transmission and potentially saving lives may have major human-rights consequences.

While many public-health initiatives do not necessitate data collecting, others may infringe on privacy protections.
Prof. Sunil Jay
Privacy in the COVID-19 era:
COVID-19 pandemic is an emergency.  Thus, typical established factors and variable might not necessarily applicable.  For example, it is unethical to wait forever to approve cost-effective drugs to prevent or treat COVID-19 to save lives by waiting for many randomized controlled clinical trial data to manifest.  Especially the agents have been approved by the regulatory agency like FDA already for other purposes.  And so, they do not need to be approved under the emergency use authorization (EUA).  However, there are legal barriers to do that in COVID because of temporary EUA, for an unlicensed vaccine.  If one waits (as the regulatory authorities are doing currently), thousands of patients will be dead, and millions will get sick.  Thus, it is not necessarily the right approach. 

The use of personal data under confidential conditions is a routine part of ding clinical trials that clinical researchers are familiar with. At the same time, personal privacy should be protected, by timely taking of actions is an essential factor in controlling then epidemic or a pandemic.  This is also applicable during contact tracing, quarantining, and hospitalizations.  Notification of those in the neighbourhood, labelling houses with COVID persons, etc., a fine lime must be treated to balance privacy and community safety.  This is also applicable to the dissemination of data, local statistics, etc.  

W. Foster
Personal privacy is a central tenant of public health and medical research. In a clinically important health crisis such as the present pandemic, personal privacy should be protected. In the case of contact tracing, personal privacy can be preserved while still allowing for contact of individuals may have come into contact with. The process of contact tracing must be demonstrably transparent to ensure public trust in the system and confidence that identifying information will not not be accessed by anyone without clearly defined need to view the information. Data collected should be anonymized to the extent possible for administrative and reporting purposes. 
K. Kannan
While giving personal privacy is very important ethically, if scientific data point that contact tracing is critical in controlling the pandemic then this needs to be educated adequately to the public so that majority of the public are aware of the significance of contact tracing.  This is a balancing act and this needs to be done transparently so that public has the trust in regulatory agencies and science.

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