Can Decentralized Technologies Promote Privacy Protection During COVID-19
The lines of data protection have been obscured thanks to the ongoing pandemic. Governments are concerned about checking the spread of the virus, preventing deaths, and keeping citizens safe. To do this, a lot of actions have been put in place, from tracking users’ phones to getting the data of citizens’ movements. Nevertheless, most of the steps taken appear to be putting citizens’ private data to risk. With the adoption of decentralized technologies like blockchain, state authorities can protect public health while protecting citizens’ private data during the coronavirus.
The Gap Between Centralised Data Infrastructure and Data Privacy
Most maximum governments have taken up the use of centralized technologies to have their citizens safe. Israel has a law that allows the tracking of persons presumed to be infected by the virus through smartphones. South Korea takes a more radical step and issues the movement of infected people publicly through text message. The United States government is seeking to associate with Google and Facebook to access the location data of infected people. While the United Kingdom is operating closely with Palantir, a data technology firm, to consolidate the data of its health service and proffer solutions.
Nevertheless, these centralized solutions pose a issue for data protection as they have proven to be unreliable. Citizens are being confronted with the difficulty of having zero control over their personal information. It may seem that the government is exchanging data protection for public health. There appears to be an assumption that data protection doesn’t seem essential at this time. While the coronavirus is a matter of public health, upholding data protection is an important human right pre-COVID-19, during and after the pandemic as well.
For example, China allows a color-code classification to its residents that decides if they should be quarantined or admitted into public spaces. Situations such as these spells sentence for the future of freedom. There is also the likelihood of a leak or the sale of personal data, as we have noticed with Facebook. The data included may incorporate addresses, Social Security Numbers, dates of birth, addresses, etc. This puts users at the risk of a leak, theft, hack, or empowers those in control of the data.
Protecting Personal Data with the Decentralised Infrastructure
When it arrives at protecting data, decentralized technology holds a lot of promise for the government. It also assures that solutions are created as well. So, governments can preserve data and stop the spread of the virus. One of the advantages that decentralized technologies hold over the centralized ones is that data is not kept on a centralized server. In the decentralized infrastructure, users have their data on their devices or a private cloud encrypted by their private key. The user owns the data, and there is no spread or collection of such data on a centralized server.
To preserve both public health and personal data, more solutions are springing up. One of such solutions is disposable identities. This technology lets users get pseudos, which aids them in protecting their identities while tracked for their health status. A former ConsenSys developer and a team of technologists and academics have come up with an open-source application that will allow users to trace their symptoms by a blockchain-based platform.
Utilizing decentralized solutions will support the government to track citizens and preserve data concurrently. Nevertheless, most governments have already negotiated on these factors. By shifting towards utilizing blockchain-based solutions, there will be an increment in the trust for protected data and human rights.