For the release of the second edition of the Data Protection Handbook for Humanitarian Action, the ICRC has convened a panel of experts to discuss how, in today's technological landscape, data protection is a more essential concern than ever. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact societies worldwide, contact tracing apps are being developed in a bid to contain the spread of the virus. While arguably effective in this sense, such technologies also pose important questions regarding the relationship between public health, data protection and privacy.
The advantages of keeping track of people's contacts and interactions can be clearly traced back to the nature of the novel coronavirus, which spreads largely through direct contact with people affected and can go undetected for crucial days when people are asymptomatic. However, questions arise as to the effectiveness of available technologies to enable this network mapping, as well as to the proportionality of their use once they are set in place. They also present clear risks in terms of abusing the data produced, with consequences such as stigmatization, increased vulnerability and fragility, and discrimination, especially in contexts characterized by humanitarian emergencies.
The event brings together specialists from the humanitarian, new tech, academic, legal, data protection and health sectors. The objective is to look at the dilemmas that an increasing digitalization of the COVID-19 crisis can bring, and at what measures can be taken to ensure that technology is a relevant contributor to the fight against the pandemic, not an additional risk factor.
The event will provide an expert discussion tackling the issue from different perspectives, from exploring why contact tracing is important in the fight against a pandemic to the requirements for a safer contact tracing solutions, and provide some concrete recommendations for humanitarian actors and actors working in emergency settings.
You can now download the Handbook here.
In partnership with the Brussels Privacy Hub