A group of senators want to enshrine privacy protections in COVID-19 contact tracing apps through legislation, but there are concerns it won’t do enough.
Senators Marsha Blackburn, Jerry Moran, John Thune and Roger Wicker plan to introduce a bill, the COVID-19 Consumer Data Protection Act, that would set requirements for data collection and transparency. The measure would start by requiring “affirmative express consent” for transferring health, location and proximity data, along with an opt out for those who aren’t comfortable. There would also be clear definitions of aggregated and de-identified data, and entities would need to both meet data security requirements and scrub any personally identifiable info after the pandemic is over.
However, privacy advocates are concerned it doesn’t do enough and might even worsen consumer safeguards. Public Knowledge Policy Counsel Sara Collins claimed that the bill only covers contact tracing data, not other health or location info, and could still let companies determine who was infected.