As Governments Rush to Track Coronavirus, Honduras May Offer a Privacy-First Model

Coindesk

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04/02/2020

……..In the United States, companies like Apple and Google are involved with developing the Trump administration’s screening program. Google, in particular, owns a staggering amount of behavioral user data. There are other companies researching more privacy-forward coronavirus tracking models as well, according to Nym Technologies CEO Harry Halpin, although such efforts aren’t connected to any government and are still in a theoretical stage.

Privacy experts are concerned about the long-term implications of these programs. Yet, attorney Preston Byrne of Anderson Kill's technology group said there’s reason to believe Americans have legal protections other nations may not.

“With regard to cellphone location data specifically, in the U.S. citizens enjoy a substantial expectation of privacy in relation to their physical movements,” Byrne said.

With regards to subscriber data, like IP addresses and metadata in text messages or emails, Byrne added companies are “not free to provide these communications voluntarily to the government except in very limited circumstances including an emergency involving death or serious bodily injury.”

In short, Americans can generally choose which apps to use. American police can’t use mass surveillance to show up at someone’s house if a phone is turned off, as reportedly happened in Taiwan. Even in Israel’s case, courts promptly ruled on which organizations can access and collect data. Plus, Israel’s consumer-facing mobile app, called “Shield” in Hebrew, is open source so anyone can review it.

If the White House adopts a comparable software initiative, Americans have a right to choose their connectivity tools and advocate for open source apps. They can also protect their privacy rights in court, according to Byrne.

Back in Honduras, Gallardo argued technologists should design software programs to specifically do certain things and not allow other types of data collection. Rather than waiting for litigation to assert privacy rights, this can help prevent government overreach in the future…..

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