Tech experts split if U.S. should use location data to track coronavirus.


In an attempt to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, the U.S. government should not harness Americans’ location data, according to a very slim majority of tech experts surveyed by The Technology 202.

51% of experts say the USA shouldn’t emulate other countries including Israel, South Korea, and China in adopting digital surveillance measures. Yet the close vote underscores the tensions even within industry between preserving privacy and removing all the stops to respond to a public health crisis that has already claimed the lives of more than 2,000 Americans.

Salesforce senior vice president of strategy and government relations, Niki Christoff, said that the USA should be extremely cautious about emergency measures that use contact, location, or health app data.

Christoff said. “Some of the countries using personal data to track and quarantine individuals aren’t implementing any of these protections, which is concerning.”
“This crisis is challenging all of us with unprecedented questions about balancing public safety against privacy protections like consent, the ability to delete and strict oversight of use by private companies and the government — questions without easy answers,”

On the other hand, given the growing urgency of the crisis, a staggering 49% minority of Network experts supported the United States following other countries’ playbooks.

“This step is a drastic one and should not be taken lightly in this country,” Michael Powell, who now serves as the chief of the NCTA Internet & Television Association, and a former Federal Communications Commission chairman during the George W. Bush administration said, “However, the critical importance of physical distancing and to prevent recurrence may well justify such an extreme measure.”

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