Privacy and COVID-19 Contact Tracing – Lessons from South Korea?

Very interesting discussion in the most recent Journal of the American Medical Association, “Information Technology–Based Tracing Strategy in Response to COVID-19 in South Korea—Privacy Controversies.”

The sources of information are staggering in their breadth:  mobile phone carriers, immigration services, law enforcement, credit card companies, public transit companies, government agencies, health insurers and health care providers.  It is difficult to imagine this type of tracing in the United States.

The social ramifications of such close tracing were significant:

“The locations of infected individuals attracted extensive news coverage at times. For some cases, the general public engaged in profiling and unveiled or inferred embarrassing personal details. Reidentification allegedly took place on a few occasions. Some of these individuals were affected by unwanted privacy invasion and even became subject to public disdain. Restaurants, shops, and other business premises that infected individuals had visited often experienced abrupt loss of business. Concerns were raised regarding the uneven scope and granularity of disclosures by municipal and local governments.”

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