Privacy During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Have your views on privacy changed since the outbreak of COVID-19? We have seen governments and private companies alike take drastic privacy invading steps that the general public would never have been complicit in under normal circumstances.

Some examples:

  1. To Track Coronavirus, Israel Moves to Tap Secret Troves of Cellphone Data [NYT]

Cellphone-based location tracking of citizens, originally approved only for anti-terrorism use in Israel, was approved by Prime Minister Netanyahu for use in coronavirus patient tracking. The goal of limiting the spread of Coronavirus is noble and important. But how far is too far?

  1. The US Government Wants Smartphone Location Data to Fight Coronavirus [WoPo]

“Privacy is the first to go when there are national security issues,” said Ashkan Soltani, a former Federal Trade Commission chief technologist. The US appears to not be far behind Israel in taking surveillant steps to limit the spread of Coronavirus.
QUESTION: What is the right balance to strike between protecting privacy and stopping a pandemic?

  1. A Sneaky Attempt to End Encryption is Worming Its Way Through Congress [Verge]

While Coronavirus has stolen the public attention, the “crypto wars” of the early 1990s have snuck back with US senator Lindsay Graham’s introduction of the “EARN IT” Act in Congress. The “EARN IT” Act essentially criminalizes privately encrypted communication and gives a Government appointed committee full control over what can and can’t be encrypted.

In the previous TOTW the community discussed the EARN It bill. Please find the discussion here:

  1. Senate Democrats Raise Alarms Over the Security of Google’s Coronavirus Screening Site [CNBC]

Google’s ‘Project Baseline’ website, a Presidentially endorsed Coronavirus online screening platform, is under fire for privacy violations. IoTeX looked at the ‘Terms and Conditions’ of ‘Project Baseline’ and found the following, troubling language: " If you withdraw your consent, information that has already been gathered will be retained… Once you join, your membership could last indefinitely, or could be ended at any time with our your permission. " QUESTION: Is Google’s service important and useful enough to accept this privacy tradeoff?

This thread is specifically about COVID-19 and privacy. Are you seeing your personal privacy invaded for the sake of helping stop the spread of COVID-19? How do you feel about this? What is your community, state, or nation, doing that may have been controversial before COVID but is now accepted as necessary?

Any and all thoughts are welcome. If you want to share participate in IoTeX’s formal survey on privacy under COVID-19, please take this survey:

We will publish the results to this thread in the coming days.


Now I feel Privacy is a two edge sword. The measures that governments take to prevent Covid-19 definitely violate someone’s privacy, e.g. tracking movements of confirmed cases; however, it seems like that they do help to stop the virus spread and also alert those have close contacts with the confirmed cases.

How to make sure that the government/big online players only utilize those data, normal people’s privacy for goodwill? This is very essential. I think access with permission from the public to certain data but not to all is a solution. Only when crisis is coming or under certain good-will conditions, the government could have access to certain privacy data.


All this is artificially created to raise panic and spread not the virus, but the global crisis. Panic over the virus, governments are rewriting the constitution.

Compliance of measures with challenges is important. Normally you will not cut a human’s leg off, but what if there is a gangrene? What is excessive and what is sufficient? The main problem is not that something is being done in extraordinary circumstances, but that it is difficult to stop using emergency powers when the need for it ends.

Telegram… @bez_nicka
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Almost all the country due to the pandemic is passing bill to help track the spread of corona virus but On the other hand they are taking it as avenue to breach privacy.
for instance, In the UK the government has also been reported to be in discussions with telcos about mapping mobile users’ movements during the crisis — though not at an individual level. It was reported to have held an early meeting with tech companies to ask what resources they could contribute to the fight against COVID-19.

While there are clear public health imperatives to ensure populations are following instructions to reduce social contact, the prospect of Western democracies making like China and actively monitoring citizens’ movements raises uneasy questions about the long term impact of such measures on civil liberties.

Plus, if governments seek to expand state surveillance powers by directly leaning on the private sector to keep tabs on citizens it risks cementing a commercial exploitation of privacy — at a time when there’s been substantial push-back over the background profiling of web users for behavioral ads.

Many of those measures are based on extraordinary powers, only to be used temporarily in emergencies. Others use exemptions in data protection laws to share data. Some may be effective and based on advice from epidemiologists, others will not be. But all of them must be temporary, necessary, and proportionate. It is essential to keep track of them. When the pandemic is over, such extraordinary measures must be put to an end and held to account.



Privacy advocates are already doing good jobs by raising alarm against Prime Minister of Isreal Mr Netanyahu over the plan “to sift through geolocation data routinely collected from Israeli cellphone providers about millions of their customers in Israel and the West Bank, find people who came into close contact with known virus carriers, and send them text messages directing them to isolate themselves immediately” whatever that will done to combat the spread o this deadly disease must not be at negligent of member of the public privacy. :space_invader: :ghost:
Greater step should taking to stand against coronavirus as stated by Washington and Silicon Valley dozens of Engineers, Executives and Epidemiologists in an open letter who still encouraged the tech companies to adopt privacy preserving techniques is a good direction to go, in this scenario balance would be stroked in order to protect privacy and also at the same time stop the coronavirus pandemic. :pray: :weight_lifting_man: :weight_lifting_woman:
When looking at the propose EARN IT ACT, the cost of law outrightly outweigh its benefits. Each company and individual have propriety right to encrypt and keep their data privately,that is what have made them who they are, that is the business trade mark and goodwill. Some of these vital information have cost them a life time saving money to accumulate. So everyone, corporate entity are whom they are for their privacy if then decrypted then that potency instantly bankrupted, therefore the EARN IT ACT should be opposed and discarded. :no_entry_sign: :construction: :mountain:
As regard the Project Baseline, google services is too bogus and importance to accept the privacy tradeoff at the detriment of the populace. The entire project terms and conditions as pointed out by IoTeX violate the right to privacy. :man_standing: :running_man: :biking_man: :men_wrestling: :women_wrestling:

Telegram Id: @tadex01


Participate in this weeks discussion:

Are you seeing your personal privacy invaded for the sake of helping stop the spread of COVID-19? How do you feel about this? What is your community, state, or nation, doing that may have been controversial before COVID but is now accepted as necessary?

:moneybag:Rewards: Most interesting & creative 5 answers will receive 1,000 IOTX EACH + all of the participants will be entered in the community scoreboard for March!
{Make sure to include your Telegram ID}

You can post more than once but make sure to share different stories/use cases, do not duplicate posts. Feel free to comment & reply to posts from other community members.


It is good initiative to see that the governments of the various countries of the world are making one move or the other to see that this cankerworm in everyone country fabric is eradicated, but not at all should it be at the expense of privacy. Yes, of course the fact that COVID-19 which is already wrecking serious havoc economically, healthwise, financially and presently denying everyone right to freedom must be get rid of is never a fallacy but not at alternative forgone to the right to privacy.
Privacy preservation or not is also a determinant factor of how buoyant an individual or corporate entity will be economically, healthwise, and financially.
Yes, I see my privacy and everyone privacy in the universe being invaded by diverse move of governments to find solutions in order to fight and eliminate this COVID-19 pandemic. It is as good as one is infected with COVID-19 if governments should succeeded in their various moves and proposals. The basic hygienic enumerated by WHO and other health services providers to combat COVID-19 have never before enforcing as it is being done now by my government, this is necessary and going forward should be a norm. :raised_hands:

Telegram ID- @SangosanyaM


It is good that the governments are doing everything to stop the pandemic. But it is very bad when the government crosses the boundaries of the personal space of its citizens. Now we are actively observing this, since people are forbidden to do absolutely everything outside their own apartments. Pharmacy - home, home - pharmacy.
I hope that in the near future the quarantine will be lifted, and we will see what happened to privacy during this time.

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Thank you guys for sharing your perspectives and contributing to this discussion.

:speech_balloon: We are extending this thread discussion for another week until April 6

Please continue to comment and voice out your opinions

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Either there are an incredible number of incompetent governments in the world, or the story about the virus is a tough game. The brightest minds in the world have failed to take timely action to protect people and our economy.

In my home country Germany 19 Carnival was celebrated despite being known by Covid. Everyone is kissed by everyone throughout Carnival. So-called kiss-free applies especially on so-called Rose Monday. This is a kind of license for all people to kiss each other with their mouths (naturally also with their tongues). I know from experience that it is practiced with dedication.

It is only now that everyone has become infected with the virus and hospitals are reaching their limits that governments are starting to respond.

Today I read in the newspaper that the first finance minister committed suicide. I assume that it was not the first. I expect further suicides in the near future and especially resignations from the ranks of the politicians.

In a special program on Corona, the top finance minister of Germany said that our money is safe with the banks. The facial expressions and gestures in his statement said more than a thousand words.

In my opinion, Covid 19 is the perfect excuse for the current crisis and, incidentally, they are working on improved surveillance. The scapegoat in this story is clearly Covid 19! Monitoring thanks to GPS data sounds very heroic at first, but the past has shown that the data collected is misused for many other purposes.

Governments should be able to find better ways to contain the virus. For example, one could use anonymized GPS data to recognize crowds of people in good time. The police and / or military could be used to solve the crowds. An app that collects such data could also be very helpful. A beep could warn users in good time if there is a large crowd.

It should also be noted that we are only at the beginning of the crisis. There will be many more life-changing laws to come. The unjust distribution of money will peak in the not too distant future. To survive, many people will criminalize themselves. Governments, on the other hand, may start wars. In view of this, the fiat currency EURO will probably not be around for long. I see very dark times coming.

My view of data protection is against the new measures. Due to the problems I have described, we will not be able to prevent surveillance. The worldwide tense situation now and after the pandemic will argumentatively help to implement the measures and keep them for a very, very long time.

TG: @altcoin_maximalist

Yes my personal privacy is violated I don’t understand why I have to sit at home as if under lock and key and have nowhere to go if I’m not infected with this disease?this is first,second, we have blocked the movement of buses and electric trains and there is nowhere to go during the quarantine…third, on TV they only talk about it COVID-19 got nowhere to go from them and how do you think my privacy is hurt???)

the spread of covid19 is stunning, and due to the fact that the government is tensed and eager to control the situation, they are taking extreme measures which.they deem necessary in order to minimize the spread of the virus.
for instance,
Some of these privacy-hostile practices face ongoing challenges under existing data protection laws in Europe — and/or have at least attracted regulator attention in the US, which lacks a comprehensive digital privacy framework — but a pandemic is clearly an exceptional circumstance. So we’re seeing governments turn to the tech sector for help.

US president Donald Trump was reported last week to have summoned a number of tech companies to the White House to discuss how mobile location data could be used for tracking citizens.

In another development this month he announced Google was working on a nationwide coronavirus screening site — in fact it’s Verily, a different division of Alphabet. But concerns were quickly raised that the site requires users to sign in with a Google account, suggesting users’ health-related queries could be linked to other online activity the tech giant monetizes via ads. (Verily has said the data is stored separately and not linked to other Google products, although the privacy policy does allow data to be shared with third parties including Salesforce for customer service purposes.)
in summary, though these bills may be good because of human lives is at stake but the government should always include a terminating clause of invation of privacy in bills, thereby restoring individual rights and privacy when the pandemic is over.


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