WHO Warns that Privacy Regulations Must Be Followed
Technology played an important role in tackling COVID-19 (coronavirus), the World Health Organisation (WHO) said. The association also emphasised that privacy and security regulations must not be circumvented when gathering key information as part of the efforts.
Michael Ryan, executive director of the body’s Health Emergencies Programme, noted at a press conference that the pandemic was the first this century in which the full power of information, technology, social media, AI had been employed. Technology was being used for communicating with communities and ensuring the accuracy of information being disseminated, he noted.
But, he added a groundswell of innovation and enthusiasm must be carefully structured to deliver products and services which are truly useful for frontline workers and systems. An eagerness to help must also not spill over into breaching human rights by ignoring data protection regulations, he explained.
“We do always have to have in the back of our minds, especially when it comes to collecting information on individual citizens or tracking their whereabouts or movements, that there are always very serious data protection implications,” Ryan said. To achieve this, he argued technology products being developed to combat the virus must never step beyond the principles of individual freedoms and societal rights.