Privacy in an Emergency

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Revision as of 12:40, 26 March 2020 by Tom (talk | contribs) (Specific Use Cases)

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Full Title or Meme

While some Privacy must be surrendered in an emergency, a little forethought will limit the exposure that results.


  • Emergency can be categorized in two for the purposes of this wiki page.
  1. Every day emergency where life or property can be dealt with one case at a time.
  2. National, or lager emergency, where life or property is under immediate and unexpected assault.


Specific Use Cases

  • The UK government approached the mobile phone and tech firms with large social graphs.[1]
  • South Korea’s (and other's) government is using cellphone data to create live maps of COVID-19-infected people. In Israel, the controversial NSO Group is reportedly working on an app for monitoring the virus’ spread.[2]
  • The coronavirus pandemic is creating a lucrative market for facial recognition manufacturers. But privacy issues need to be top of mind, tech experts warn.[3]
  • An Israeli technology company, which has gained notoriety for the spyware it sells, has developed a new product it says has the ability to track the spread of the coronavirus. NSO Group Ltd.’s product analyzes huge volumes of data to map people’s movements to identify who they’ve come in contact with, which can then be used to stop the spread of infection, according to a person familiar with the matter[4]
  • Telehealth is just one example of how privacy controls get differed during emergencies. In some cases these relaxations never get returned to pre-emergency conditions. "Under this Notice, covered health care providers may use popular applications that allow for video chats, including Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangouts video, or Skype, to provide telehealth without risk that OCR might seek to impose a penalty for noncompliance with the HIPAA Rules related to the good faith provision of telehealth during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency. Providers are encouraged to notify patients that these third-party applications potentially introduce privacy risks, and providers should enable all available encryption and privacy modes when using such applications. " [5]


  1. Shona Ghosh, Privacy activists fear the UK might spy on its own citizens to tackle COVID-19. Here's what we know. Business Insider (2020-03-26) Privacy activists fear the UK might spy on its own citizens to tackle COVID-19. Here's what we know.
  2. 11 countries are now using people's phones to track the coronavirus pandemic, and it heralds a massive increase in surveillance Business Insider (2020-03-26)
  3. Lindsey O'Donnel Covid-19 Spurs Facial Recognition Tracking, Privacy Fears (2020-03-20) ThreatPost
  4. Gwen Ackerman and Yaacov BenmelehIsraeli Spyware Firm Wants to Track Data to Stop Coronavirus Spreading Bloomberg (2020-03-17)
  5. HHS Office of Civil Rights, Notification of Enforcement Discretion for Telehealth Remote Communications During the COVID-19 Nationwide Public Health Emergency (2020-02-20)