Private Eyes: Covid-19 Raises Privacy Concerns

As American leaders look for ways to reopen businesses and public life amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, ideas like mass surveillance, movement tracking, public health checks and even issuing immunity cards are being tossed around. And some people are okay with that, saying they would be willing to share their medical or location info if it meant being able to go back to work.

The line between security and privacy has always been a fine one, and now with the Covid-19 pandemic it is thinner than ever, according to privacy expert Robert Siciliano with "In this case, a certain invasion of privacy can be used to potentially protect us from an unseen, unknown predator, a virus," he says.

While some people are warming to the idea of increased surveillance and data, many are not. A Pew survey from last year found 52% of Americans have declined to use a product or service because of privacy concerns. "It's about time that consumers wake up to corporations invading their privacy by exploiting them via the terms of service, and then reselling their private information," says Siciliano. "We have an entire culture, an uprising, that is now holding government and corporations accountable for these privacy vulnerabilities."

In the modern world, it is nearly impossible to protect all of your private info all the time. Siciliano recommends being smart about when and where you give up your privacy. "As long as consumers are informed, and they recognize security risks versus giving up certain liberties in regard to privacy, then we stand a good chance of a happy medium," he says.

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