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Privacy Concerns Hindering Digital Contact Tracing UPD

If the apps are used by citizens of particular states or localities, then state or local laws may apply. However, a quick look at the leading state law (the California Consumer Privacy Act or CPPA) is not promising, since it does not apply to the government agencies that build and use these apps. Even if CCPA did apply, a law that protects citizens only in one state hardly provides the privacy assurances needed for broad nationwide uptake of contact-tracing apps.

Privacy Concerns Hindering Digital Contact Tracing

Months into the pandemic, Congress attempted to fill this legal void by enacting yet another narrow, situation-specific law. In May and June, after contact-tracing apps had already been developed and deployed in certain localities, a number of senators rushed to circulate draft bills in order to regulate the apps and the sensitive data they collect. Some of these bills had serious flaws and gaps, and none of them made any headway in Congress.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused substantial global disturbance by affecting more than 42 million people (as of the end of October 2020). Since there is no medication or vaccine available, the only way to combat it is to minimize transmission. Digital contact tracing is an effective technique that can be utilized for this purpose, as it eliminates the manual contact tracing process and could help in identifying and isolating affected people. However, users are reluctant to share their location and contact details due to concerns related to the privacy and security of their personal information, which affects its implementation and extensive adoption. Blockchain technology has been applied in various domains and has been proven to be an effective approach for handling data transactions securely, which makes it an ideal choice for digital contact tracing apps. The properties of blockchain such as time stamping and immutability of data may facilitate the retrieval of accurate information on the trail of the virus in a transparent manner, while data encryption assures the integrity of the information being provided. Furthermore, the anonymity of the user's identity alleviates some of the risks related to privacy and confidentiality concerns. In this paper, we provide readers with a detailed discussion on the digital contact tracing mechanism and outline the apps developed so far to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, we present the possible risks, issues, and challenges associated with the available contact tracing apps and analyze how the adoption of a blockchain-based decentralized network for handling the app could provide users with privacy-preserving contact tracing without compromising performance and efficiency.

Several countries have effectively limited the spread of COVID-19 by using digital technology in unprecedented ways, implementing core public health techniques such as case detection, contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine with the assistance of mobile devices. But those techniques also raise complex questions about privacy and consent.

Contact tracing is the effort to identify individuals known to be infected as well as trace anybody they've been in contact with to alert them of their exposure to the disease. The person known to be infected becomes the index case and is asked who they have been in contact with during a specified period of time. Anyone that person has interacted with will then be contacted, questioned about their symptoms, and advised to quarantine. If any of the contacts is infectious, then their contacts are traced, and the cycle continues.

Respecting privacy is a core ethical principle and is actually driving the conversation of whether digital contract tracing should be used in the United States. Tracking someone's personal information is beyond what most Americans are accustomed to, and some may consider it a violation of their privacy. One of the major concerns is who will have access to an individual's private information, for what purposes, and for how long. It's troubling when you think about the possibility of linking data from your mobile device to other things like health behaviors and use of the health care system, genomic testing, consumer habits, credit card data, and more. People are concerned about these data points being merged and used to track citizens in a nefarious way. Those sorts of other uses can be prevented, but we need strong protections to ensure that it won't happen.

Equity is another ethical principle to consider. If digital contact tracing provides a benefit, then how do we also protect people without smartphones who don't have access to the technology? Policies should make sure that access to the technology and its benefits, as well as the distribution of its burdens, are shared equitably.

A final consideration is the level of performance of the technology. We don't yet know whether these tools work. Do they actually predict who has been exposed in ways that will help public health professionals combat the pandemic, and with what level of precision? Too many false positives or false negatives won't serve the goal of augmenting traditional contact tracing efforts.

Several governments employed digital contact tracing using smartphone apps to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Research shows that privacy concerns hinder the adoption of such apps, while privacy problems which emerged by using them are empirically unknown. This study aims to uncover the dimensions of privacy problems available in digital contact tracing through a survey from 453 citizens in Sweden. Our results show that respondents found privacy problems regarding surveillance, identification, aggregation, secondary use, disclosure, and stigma highly relevant in contact tracing apps. Among demographic factors, younger respondents were generally more concerned about privacy risks than older respondents. This study extends previous literature by revealing privacy problems arising from contact tracing apps.

Background and Objective: Digital tools have been extensively used in handling the COVID-19 pandemic, but governments struggle with the low uptake of digital contact tracing (DCT). Since this limits its effectiveness in infectious disease control, this topic is important to epidemiology and public health. The objectives of this review are: (I) to discuss the factors affecting DCT adoption in different communities; (II) to compile suggestions to improve DCT uptake; (III) to discuss implications of DCT utilisation in the pandemic on further digital and mobile health development.

Key Content and Findings: Literature review shows consolidated agreement that factors affecting acceptance of DCT applications are: (I) technical factors (privacy protection protocols, application design, user experience); (II) social factors (social norms, media representation and coverage, perception of responsible corporations); (III) political factors (government promotion and education, government image); (IV) health concerns (perceived risk of COVID-19, perceived effects of using DCT); and (V) cultural factors. Additionally, it is agreed that intention to use these applications pre-release does not indicate actual usage. Privacy protection, favourable attitudes of society, trust in private corporations, trust in governments, transparency, open communication approaches, perceived health benefits, and values of collectivism favour DCT uptake. Literature disagrees on the association between health awareness and DCT adoption, but most identify a positive association.

Conclusions: Specific to the COVID-19 pandemic, literature recommends repeating these studies in different communities at different time points because social, cultural and political factors are geo-specific and temporo-specific. Beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, developers of digital and mobile health applications should consider data security and privacy consider, perceived functional efficacy and application usability.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, health authorities adopted a variety of measures, including city-wide lockdowns, travel restrictions, mandatory quarantine, and the test-trace-isolate approach for new confirmed cases (1). Digital tools were extensively used in the handling of this pandemic, including telemedicine, applications that allow self-reporting of symptoms, and digital contact tracing (DCT) (2,3).

DCT works by having DCT applications installed on smartphones (4). These applications largely use either Bluetooth to detect signals from nearby devices and identify close contacts of the phone owner, or Global Position System (GPS) to identify people present at the same place and time as a COVID-19 patient and mark them as possible contacts (4). Another subset of these applications use QR code or barcode systems, where people scan codes provided by venues to record their travel history (5-8). From that, close contacts of individuals can be inferred, which can facilitate contact tracing efforts by public health authorities.

The first contact tracing mobile applications were rolled out in the first quartile of 2020 largely in the Asia-pacific and Scandinavian regions (4). Other regions had reservations in using these technologies, and controversies regarding the privacy concerns, ethicality and best methods for implementing DCT hindered its implementation (4). The privacy-preserving protocol launched by Apple and Google, which uses decentralised storage systems and Bluetooth-enabled tracking software (9,10), has alleviated these concerns (11). Governments thus swiftly follow suit (4,11), such that DCT became adopted throughout the world.

Despite moving onwards from the COVID-19 pandemic, DCT remains relevant because it can minimise the risk of new variants causing uncontrollable outbreaks (14), with some speculating that it could strike a balance between infection control and daily activities, thus become the key to returning to normal life (15,16). Moreover, our experience in the pandemic can guide the use of DCT for future outbreaks involving other pathogens (14). Thus, to improve the adoption of DCT, we ought to look into the concerns of the public and factors influencing the adoption of DCT, such that effective strategies can be devised to improve the uptake of DCT. This review explores the factors affecting adoption of applications in hopes to better advise on handling the privacy concerns, reservations on effectiveness, technical inabilities, and poor image. We present the following article in accordance with the Narrative Review reporting checklist (available at -22-11/rc). 041b061a72


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