In the shadow of our attempts to fix big issues are hidden truths and individual lives, reflected in the numbers. The fact that our digital freedoms and privacies are being crossed in a crisis, in ways that may arguably save lives - but that we may well regret later - was brought up at the start of the Epidemic curves thread. While we are now intensely diving into the open data for the #covid19mon virtual event, I’d like to cross post some food for thought from the Personaldata.io forum. Here is a short excerpt, with the original post worth a visit for context, supporting imagery, and discussion:
There are a lot of people right now at home in Europe who are either pre-symptomatic, asymptomatic or healthy. You can try to perfectly quarantine people for 14 days at home (the supposed incubation period to cover 99% of transmission cases), but this will not root out me contaminating a child who then contaminates my wife up until the end of the quarantining period. This would also not address the problem of people living in communal situations (shelters, jails, etc), or the problem of not quarantining people who need to provide health care and food to the population during that quarantine.
The only way out, and this seems to be extremely robust to the numbers, is contact tracing. Note: I didn’t say “digital” contact tracing. Contact tracing is the idea that you can use contamination instances in the dark-blue region to prevent contamination events in the light-blue region. As soon as someone feels symptoms, all their past contacts get quarantined immediately - on top of the symptomatic person being quarantined as well.
This brings enormous civil liberties challenges, because we would not just talking about consent of the app user, but also preemptive consent of the contacts for their information to be passed on …
Will you grant permissions to your data in public interest? To protect your loved ones? What assurances do you need? How could we apply our technical understanding of the risks to ensure the speedy flow of information into the right hands?
Is anybody working on a dataset to track this flood of Covid-19 apps we’re headed for?