New article: Data protection during the coronavirus crisis, by Christophe Olivier Schneble, Prof. Bernice Simone Elger, and Dr. David Martin Shaw
The SARS‐CoV‐2 virus has caused a worldwide pandemic with many deaths (WHO, 2020b) and healthcare systems being pushed to their limits. This makes it all the more important to identify infected people early on and to ensure that people comply with public health measures so as to reduce the spread of the virus. In contrast to most previous pandemics, we can now use smartphone and other digital data. This is not the first case of using smartphone data for public health: The WHO's go.data initiative successfully used those technologies to fight Ebola (WHO, 2020a). Common to all digital tracking methods is the fact that we deal with different types of data, such as geo‐localization data or, via Bluetooth, close‐contact data, that under normal circumstances would fall within the scope of data protection laws. However, there is growing evidence that governments that using such technologies in conjunction with other basic hygiene measures are more successful in fighting COVID‐19 (Ferretti et al, 2020; Normile, 2020). The question remains of how data protection regimes should react to such states of emergency.