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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?
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.
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. 
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.  

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.

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