The COVID-19 pandemic continues to cripple the worldwide economy. In the United States, senators are clamoring to regulate contact-tracing apps for better privacy, CNet reported.
On Monday, June 1, United States Congress members announced plans to enact a bill that seeks to regulate apps that do contact-tracing and exposure-notification. The aim is to make sure that these technologies will curb the spread of the virus, and at the same time, will not interfere with the patients' privacy.
Sen. Maria Cantwell, a top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, stated, "The important thing we wanted to get done, as people started to look at this, is make sure the privacy protections are in place."
The proposed bill is known as the "Exposure Notification Privacy Act." It seeks to launch "federal guardrails" around the recent regulations in Silicon Valley when it comes to the pandemic. It also will track people's movements and notify them when they are close to someone tested positive for the coronavirus.
Where is privacy? The lawmaker, and the proponent of the bill, said that it will ensure that tracking will not be forced to patients who choose not to receive alerts. Furthermore, it also makes sure that the information collected won't be utilized commercially.
"We're all irritated our browser history might be sold a thousand times over, but when it's your healthcare history it's a whole new realm," Cantwell added.
Recent figures reveal there are now 1.8 million confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States, with 412,000 recoveries and 107,000 deaths. Worldwide, there are more than six million confirmed cases suffering from the virus.
The World Health Organization said in one of their recent tweets, "Countries must 'build back better', strengthening health services so that people affected by noncommunicable diseases can receive the care they need without disruption, in all circumstances."
WHO is constantly conducting media briefings and press conferences to update the globe on the pandemic.
In various countries, government sectors are working together closely with their citizens to combat, mitigate, and curb the spread of COVID-19. Quarantine measures, establishment closures, and postponement of school openings are in place. Due to the major lockdowns, many areas formerly under intensified quarantines are now under general regulations to reveal improvement.
Contact-tracing and privacy
With the threat still in place, technology plays a crucial role in finding aid to the disease. However, the U.S. government, for instance, is tough enough to regulate those that might come off abusive for these patients.
Companies have partnered with digital technology to speed up contact-tracing, a method utilized to slow the spread of the virus. This system is labor-intensive, which makes it fortunate for those who have the devices since they can test more patients in a shorter amount of time.
In the CNet report, major tech firms Apple and Google said they are working on a technology that utilizes signals from mobile devices to notify people if they are nearby, someone tested positive for the virus. The U.S. states of Alabama, North Dakota, and South Carolina already have this in place.
The COVID-19 pandemic reportedly originated in Wuhan, China, late last year.