Senators to introduce COVID-19 contact tracing privacy legislation

A group of Republican senators said Thursday that it intends to introduce a bill that would regulate the way consumer data is used to fight COVID-19 MS, including Apple and the notification system. Google exhibit.


Lawmakers announced new legislation on Thursday to protect consumer privacy from contact search applications. Credit: Martin Falbisoner

The COVID-19 Consumer Data Protection Act “would provide all Americans with more transparency, choice and control over the collection and use of their personal health, geolocation and proximity data” during the coronavirus pandemic, according to Roger Roger Wicker (MS), John Thune (SD), Jerry Moran (KS) and Marsha Blackburn (TN) said in a joint statement.

While not specifically named, it’s likely the law will apply to the contact search framework that Apple and Google announced in April.

Specifically, businesses would be required to obtain consumer consent before using the data to track the sp of the coronavirus and allow users to opt out at any time. It also requires companies to let users know how their data is used, how long it can be stored, and with whom it can be shared. In addition, companies should delete or anonymize informationon once it is no longer needed.

Most of these requirements are also integrated into the Apple-Google API. The tech giants’ system is based on anonymized data stored in a decentralized fashion, and both companies require that application developers offer contact search on a strictly opt-in basis. Apple and Google have also committed to dismantling the system after it is no longer needed.

Since the idea was born at Apple in March, the tech giant Cupertino has worked with its internal cryptographers to ensure that the system would protect consumer privacy and security at all levels.

Some of these protections have caused conflicts between Apple and Google with other governments, such as the United Kingdom, which opt for a system that stores informationon in a centralized database. France and Germany have also implemented a centralized system, although Germany has since changed position and supported the methodology of Apple and Google.

But some privacy advocates, such as Sara Collins, political advisor to the canine group Public Knowledge, have expressed their own concerns about the bill. Collins said the legislation does not confer new resources, enforcement or regulatory powers on the Federal Trade Commission, reports The Verge.

She claims she also warns of the much stricter Federal Communications Commission protections on mobile operators, and also prevents states “from adopting or enforcing stricter privacy protections in the absence of strong federal protections at the FTC “.

She called the legislation “deregulation disguised as consumer protection” and said it “does little to protect the privacy of Americans during the COVID-19 epidemic”.

Apple and Google released beta versions of their developer exposure notification APIs this week before a major launch in mid-May.

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