Posted 10 months ago | by Ben Armstrong

Coronavirus – A Lesson on Data Privacy

People and governments around the world have struggled with the consequences of Covid-19 pandemic’s effect on the economy and our daily life. We need to be aware of data privacy, and how much data is shared without our consent.

Everyone seems to be aware of the fragility of public and private institutions as they see how lockdowns keep extending, the market crashes and civil unrest up.

The pandemic has also revealed several flaws in healthcare systems around the world that need to be solved if we are to be ready for similar situations in the future. We need to be faster at acting, better at handling and detecting cases and organized when working on test deployments.

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Civil Liberties and Privacy in Times of Crisis

Governments around the world have been using big data and massive surveillance to identify infected citizens, control their movements and symptoms, and trace their contacts with other people to gain more control over the infection and halt the pandemic’s evolution.

It is understandable for citizens to turn to their governments and trust their ability to handle these pandemics, accepting new laws and limitations as they are deemed appropriate.

However, privacy and freedom go hand-in-hand, and although even trusting the government under such circumstances, can we trust that this privacy will be returned once the crisis is over?

The Pandemic Will Pass but Decisions Might Last

The information recollected by governments during the crisis is being stored in different locations by different companies and entities, all in a centralized manner. While this information is available to them and whoever they decide to provide access with, the users who this information was taken from cannot.

Events such as the Facebook - Cambridge Analytica scandal and the corporate model of companies such as Google have demonstrated time after time that user’s data is a commodity really valuable for companies for different purposes. The centralization of this information and its obscurity to the users it is taken from.

How will governments around the world use this information and technologies once the crisis is over?

Will they find other applications to it in a way to exert control over its citizens?

Is Edward Snowden right when he says, “What we are building is the architecture of oppression”?

Blockchain and Government Transparency

Government exists as the result of a social contract and it is supposed to serve its citizens, protect their interests, and get its authority for this purpose. As so, it makes sense for it to provide access to public data to all of its citizens under most conditions.

Citizens might not be able to get access to all of the data the government collects, for obvious reason. However, the use of blockchain technology to store and collect public data could provide users with privacy regarding their identity as well as provide them information on the data that is being collected.

Governments around the world are slowly adapting their software and using blockchain technology to provide public services to its users, standardize education and health records, and promote the fintech industry.

Time to Take Data Privacy Seriously

With the ever-increasing interest in data privacy and awareness on how mass government surveillance is detrimental to democracy and freedom, it is time for users and citizens to demand transparency and control on how their data is accessible to them.

Data on our lives and actions should not be controlled by someone else but us and if we decide to give some of this information away, we should decide how it is used and be able to access it. Blockchain is the most appropriate technology for this purpose.

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